Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What about human consumption?

Because of pressure from the public and now our politicians, the Food and Drug Administration is focusing on contaminated pet food (“Fluffy’s poisoned food makes political fur fly,” Nation, April 4), but how long will it take for the FDA to focus on foods for human infants?

The FDA quietly admits there is no evidence that soy phyto-estrogens are safe and especially that they have not been proved safe for babies or young children, yet infant formula and foods are commonly laced with soy phyto-estrogens.

The National Institutes of Health reveals numerous published studies on their Web site (https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov) confirming that soy phyto-estrogens are more potent estrogenic chemicals than once thought. Pregnant women are swallowing soy foods without knowing they are saturating their fetuses with soy’s damaging estrogenic effects.

Numerous published studies scattered throughout medical journals confirm that soy phyto-estrogens are capable of causing abnormal hormone fluctuations that target the brain, especially influencing changes in vasopressin and oxytocin during a most important period of time when hormone balance is most critical for normal fetal and early childhood brain development.

It took more than 60 years for the FDA to include a variety of fatal drug warnings for female hormone estrogen/progestin drugs that had been prescribed as safe to several million healthy middle-aged women. How long it will take the FDA to include appropriate warnings to parents regarding the evidence that soy phyto-estrogens may cause fetal and infant brain defects is anyone’s guess.

Female estrogen drugs and soy phyto-estrogens have a common bond; exposure of truthful warnings puts billions of dollars in corporate profits at risk. Lucky for cats and dogs, it only took the FDA a few months to announce details about contaminated pet food.


Santa Barbara, Calif.

‘Help keep VI open’

I am a second-year student at Virginia Intermont College and would like to thank you for running an article concerning VI’s financial situation (“Small Virginia college short $4 million for next year,” Metropolitan, Friday).

Over the past few years, the students have repeatedly faced rumors that our college will be closing, but now we are being confronted by the possibility that it may really happen. It is frightening to be unsure of your future, and since the announcement of the school’s difficult financial standing, there has been a flurry of questions all over campus: “What should we do? Should we try to transfer? Where should I go?” but mainly, “Will the school still be here in the fall?”

Regardless, we are confident, and we have refused to give up faith in our college. Our campus has come together, as your article mentioned, in a 300-plus rally of students, professors and the community. We will not be defeated by financial troubles; our college has too much to offer students, the community and the world.

Banners reading “Help keep VI open” are spread across dorm windows, VI pride days are planned and previously canceled award banquets have been rescheduled. We plan to keep fighting until the very end. Thank you for spreading the word about our situation — there are many Virginia Intermont alumni out there who may not be aware of what is happening, and it is news articles like yours that may help inform them and in turn help keep the school open through donations.

I would like the public to know that any and all monetary donations are welcome and appreciated. Our mailing address can be found at www.vic.edu


Bristol, Va.

The predicament in Iraq

Thanks to William R. Hawkins for drawing attention to the latest issue of the World Policy Journal; as they say, at least he spelled our names right (“Is retreat just the start?” Commentary, Friday). As for his assertion that the World Policy Institute stands for “unilateral disarmament and global retreat,” his charge reveals more about his outmoded views of national security than it does about our perspective.

For a country with an arsenal of 10,000 nuclear warheads to forgo the provocative act of building a new generation of these “weapons of mass murder,” as President Bush has described them when they are possessed by other nations, is just common sense. It is not a “retreat” for a country that accounts for roughly half of the world’s military spending to do without dangerous and indiscriminate weapons such as cluster bombs. True security lies in melding military, diplomatic, economic, intelligence, law enforcement and other tools into a coherent global policy. Leaning too heavily on force to the exclusion of our other levers of power leads to fiascos like our current predicament in Iraq. If a balanced security policy is Mr. Hawkins’ idea of retreat, maybe he needs a new compass.


Senior research fellow

World Policy Institute

New York City

A reality check

My initial reaction to the scenario selected by the Muskegon County, Mich., school district for its terrorism drill was the same as Michelle Malkin’s — outrage (“Whitewashing jihad in schools,” Commentary, Saturday). Upon reflection, I think there might be an understandable explanation for why the district ignored the reality of the world we live in, although I doubt it would so admit.

Being aware of recent events, the school district could have selected a Christian scenario to avoid the possibility of a violent reaction. As we have seen in the past, the reaction of the Muslim community — if any part of the scenario was considered insulting to Islam — could be violent.

One might ask how a scenario that reflects reality could be considered insulting. From the standpoint of American standards of free speech and toleration for actions and depictions even when patently offensive, reflecting reality could not be insulting. However, we simply cannot anticipate accurately what might be taken as an insult, so why not completely avoid the possibility by ignoring reality?

Some might say this is a cowardly approach, and it is if one maintains that a Christian terrorism scenario reflects reality to any degree as a Muslim scenario would. An upfront admission that the scenario was selected to avoid any possibility of a violent reaction could be taken as a common-sense avoidance of a battle better fought elsewhere.



People who live in glass houses…

Sunday’s editorial “Houses and masters” really points out the difference between those who talk the talk and those who walk the walk. President Bush actually does things to reduce energy use at his ranch; Al Gore uses 20 times the average homeowner’s electricity and buys “offsets.”

What Mr. Gore is saying, in essence, is that he can use all the energy he wants because he invests in ways to encourage other people to use less to compensate for his excess. How noble of him.

If Mr. Gore really believed his own hype about energy use and global warming, he would use less energy on principle in spite of the fact that he can afford offsets.


Hummelstown, Pa.

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