The Skinny on Organic
Kudos to Jeffrey Kluger for arguing in "What's So Great About Organic Food?" [Sept. 6] that we should consider the treatment of animals not just the health benefits to ourselves in deciding whether to buy organic animal products. The best solution, though, is to eat as few animal products as possible, organic or not. It's more humane, it's healthier, and it increases the feeding power of the planet.
Cumberland, R.I., U.S.
Conventional fertilizers do indeed boost crop production, but they damage the microorganisms in healthy soil, meaning that farmers must keep purchasing chemicals to get any production. America's treasure trove of rich topsoil is also being systematically squandered by "get more, faster" farming practices.
The Green Revolution initially promises and provides more, but over time, it pollutes the environment, depletes the soil, reduces biodiversity and produces monocultures that are susceptible to pests and dependant on chemical pesticides and herbicides. When the whole picture is considered on a greater world scale, the answer is clear: we have no option but to go sustainable and organic.
The term organic agriculture is totally inappropriate. Factories cannot produce synthetic potatoes or synthetic chicken; all agricultural products are organic. A more appropriate term would be ecological agriculture, in use in a few countries, for the type of agriculture that tries to approach natural conditions.
It would have been refreshing if TIME had allotted more print space to modern agricultural scientists. Given the chance, agriculture can show that it produces safe, healthy, nutritious and affordable food products in ways that are also good for the environment.
Chapman, Kans., U.S.
I'm not averse to the idea of nonorganic or genetically modified foods. They're probably the only way to feed the planet. But farmers across the world are being held hostage to the designer crops of a few corporations, and those in the developing world are getting the rawest of deals.
Not all the U.S. troops withdrawing from Iraq are simply headed home, no matter how sweet home must be for tired soldiers ["Going Home," Sept. 6]. Some will likely be redeployed to combat in Afghanistan, others to Yemen or Somalia to contain insurgents. It's unfortunate but certain that new battlefronts will emerge, only to be accompanied by more bloodshed and dead bodies.
Tragedy in Manila
Zoher Abdoolcarim penned a painful commentary on the Philippine hostage drama ["The Moment," Sept. 6]. Much like the rest of the world, I was horrified by the bloody outcome. It was outrageous that once again crisis management, Philippines-style, turned an incident into a tragic fiasco.
Quezon City, The Philippines
A Malaysian Move
Malaysia's affirmative-action policy favoring ethnic Malays has resulted in a quiet diaspora of non-Malay Malaysians. In New Zealand, I can drive a taxi, be a government contractor and enter university based on merit, not my race. The same chances in Malaysia? Dream on.
Timaru, New Zealand
The (Steve) Jobs Report
There is no paradox when viewing the depressed U.S. jobs report and the stunning Apple results as suggested in Zachary Karabell's "The Two Jobs Reports" [Sept. 6]. Apple's iPhone and iPad are almost completely manufactured in Asia, primarily in China. The spectacular results of Apple, if anything, reflect China's manufacturing vibrancy. The industry whose data would truly reflect a resurgence in U.S. jobs is housing. Houses can't be built in China and brought into the U.S.