New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 127

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] FOOD FIRST [image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman.

You have ulcers my dear chap! Do you participate in management by any chance?

R. K. Laxman in
‘The Times of India’

Comic Strip Revolution
Your comic feature on world hunger (NI 125) was good. It made the fundamental causes of hunger accessible in a few minutes’ reading.

But my goodness! The contrast between the gravity of the problem the power of private owners, backed by armed forces, governments, media, etc and the triviality of the course for action suggested in the cartoon: that contrast is as great as that between the world’s rich and the world’s poor.

An evil as serious and of such magnitude as world poverty and hunger requires, like the problem of nuclear weapons or any other world problem, no less than the overthrow of private property on a world scale.

R.Alderson
Manchester, United Kingdom.

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[image, unknown] WORLD MAP [image, unknown]

Cheated
I have been subscribing to the New Internationalist for nearly a year. I find the magazine very informative and interesting. I have to say that I was very disappointed to receive the world map this month and felt cheated out of a good read.

D. Williamson,
Godalming, Surrey,
United Kingdom.

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On top of the world
Thanks for the Arno Peters map of the world, which is a useful improvement in many ways and much appreciated by everyone in our household. But why on earth (!) did you print it that way up.

Putting the powerful North on top, and North America in the top left-hand corner, which is culturally dominant in a majority of the scripts in use in different cultures, may be symbolically true to the major axes of world oppression. But it hardly helps us to see the possibility of a different planet, which must surely be part of what any radically truthful new image of the world has to be about. After several years of searching in vain for a map of ’The World Turned Upside Down’, it was disappointing to miss out again on what was probably my best chance so far.

Rip Bulkeley
Oxford, United Kingdom

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[image, unknown] TERRITORY[image, unknown]

Faction
Having found many of your articles most fruitful. I was disappointed to discover that in your pictorial summary ‘The Growth of Nationalism’ (NI 123), the heading ‘Facts’ is a misnomer because the ‘facts’ arc highly obscured by points of view. To state, for example, as under picture 16. that ‘1,000 people were sacrificed in 1982 for useless islands in the South Atlantic ,is a biased statement rather than a fact and one in my views which totally misses the point. Those who died gave their lives for the people of those islands and for the protection of us all against international anarchy.

Patricia Harrod,
Corsham, Wiltshire,
United Kingdom

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Spaced out
I would like to commend you on the issue ‘This Land is My Land’ and the associated Peters projection. As one of a small but growing body of socially conscious geographers, it is inspiring to see the sociospatial nature of current problems elucidated. Those of us in academia concerned with the problematics of space produced by social relations, as opposed to a primordial land surface which the term usually connotes, have stressed space as a mutable, historically bound creation comparable to other social institutions. The politically informed, emancipatory social science we strive for, theorises the transformation of space on terms equally significant as the transformation of society, for indeed, neither can exist without the other.

Barney Warf,
Dept. of Geography.
University of Washington,
Seattle, U S.A.

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Transcending triviality
Anuradha Vittachi’s review of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (NI 125) failed to come to terms with the kind of book it is: written by a Parisienne and a rich one.

Most people do not go to work for ‘transcendence’: most people’s work is even more trivial than being a housewife. The modern housewife is not destined to triviality, and never was. The man at work certainly is in our society.

Peter Galpin,
Leeds, United Kingdom.

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Weeds and wetters
With reference to the item ‘Killer Cocktails’ (Update NI 125), subsequent information received from ICI reveals that the two types of paraquat known as ’S’ and ‘W’ refer to the presence of a wetting agent in the ‘W’ variety used for weed control in agriculture. The ‘5’ type with no wetter is used for aquatic weed control. ICI attributes the fish deaths in Thailand to ‘a bacterium, Aeromonas Hydrophvlla, severe overcrowding of commercial fish ponds, low quality feed and the release of a weak strain of young fish’, They conclude ‘paraquat is unlikely to be the cause of the epidemic.

Further studies are underway. and we reserve judgement.

Troth Tiranti,
Penang, Malaysia,
(author of the original article)

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Bottling it up
It has come to our attention that the April issue of the New Internationalist (NI 122), in an article entitled ‘Back on the Bottle’ states that Wyeth in Singapore employs seven mother-craft nurses who visit mothers at home to teach them how to prepare Wyeth infant formula.

In November of 1982, Wyeth International promulgated revisions to its policy with respect to the WHO Infant Formula Code. One of those revisions prohibited any contact concerning infant formula with pregnant women or mothers by such personnel and this prohibition has been in effect in Singapore since December of 1982.

E Steven Bauer,
Vice-President
Corporate Relations,
Wyeth International Ltd,
Philadelphia, USA.

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Girls and boys
About your piece in the May issue (NI 123) about Sri Lankan women going to work, mainly as domestic servants, in the Middle East, The headline ‘Mobile Maids’ trivialised the women and the difficulties they face and the sub-title below it ‘Arabs attract Sri Lankan girls’ carried an offensive sexual (and possibly racist) innuendo. Describing the women repeatedly as ‘girls’ is degrading and belittling to adult women. Remember how white racists in South Africa refer to their black male servants as ‘boys’?

Clare Hudson.
Cardiff
Wales, United Kingdom.

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Back in their jackets

When I read the story ‘Un-jacket your potatoes’ in your May edition (NI 123) regarding unsafe levels of the pesticide ‘Tecnazene’ on potato skins I took action and wrote to the UK Potato Marketing Board — as it is one of their jobs to make sure the public gets good potatoes.

Apparently the figure you quoted of up to 218 times the recommended safety level was an extreme figure from a sample of potatoes in an experimental trial, The potatoes in question had been deliberately nurtured to see what levels of tecnazene a potato could hold under certain conditions. This sample had been kept in sealed polythene containers (to prevent the pesticide evaporating) and underwent minimal handling (to prevent soil and residue being shaken off). These potatoes would never have reached the dinner table!

As for potatoes sold across Britain’s shop counters —once they are washed and cooked they contain around half of the international maximum level.

The Daily Mail newspaper (the source of your information) was informed of these facts by the Board but chose not to publish them. How’s that as a good example of press freedom?

Ray VadI,
Exeter, Devon,
United Kingdom.

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Consumption spiral
Your facile response to Sally Garforth’s letter about the Consumers’ Association advertising (NI 123) cannot go unchallenged. Your ‘we are all consumers, after all’ is precisely the sort of imprecise ‘truth’ that Ness’ Internationalist exists to expose.

Fifteen to twenty years ago, the Consumers’ Association could claim with some justice that they represented a genuine social need to keep producers on their toes by comparative testing of products and publication of the results. Today, when other consumers’ champions like Ralph Nader have moved on to the vital struggles over pollution and the environment, the Consumers’ Association rests upon its fat laurels. The implicit message of Which magazine exhorts all its Social Class A & B subscribers to buy, buy, buy whatever is new on to the market. The Consumers’ Association no longer challenges producers, or anyone else; it helps to sell to the better-off and already over-consuming citizens of a rich country.

Mike Pedler,
Sheffield, United Kingdom.

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Unkindest cut
I welcome the discussion about female circumcision by Sue Armstrong (NI 125).

But I believe that not only Western women should play a part by raising the issue, but Western men as well. I totally oppose female circumcision, as does the organization I belong to — the Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom.

Whilst there is some truth to Sue Armstrong’s contention that ‘the initiative for abolition must come from within the practising countries themselves’, we in the West can ensure that our own countries’ legislation prohibits this barbaric practice, particularly as many Western countries are now host countries to ethnic minority groups who have decided to establish new homes in the West.

James P Smith FRCN,
District Nursing Officer,
Brent Health Authority,
Middlesex, United Kingdom.

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