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Letters to the Editor

Poisonous Policy

Re "Toxic Shock" (MetroNews, June 25): Bridging the gap between South and North for pesticide/chemical regulations and research. The situation of pesticide and chemical market, advertising, transportation and distribution, labeling, worker protection and in general regulatory activities in developing countries is very bad and needs immediate support from the international scientific community and also from international regulatory agencies to prevent more misuse. Due to the lack of regulatory bodies and enforcement in these countries and specially lack of proper labeling and distribution and finally lack of consumer knowledge, many cases of suicide using pesticides happens every year in each of these countries. Pesticides are sold in food stores and sometimes in open containers with no labels. In most of these developing countries there is absolutely no enforcement power (if there are written regulations at all) and licensing procedure for agricultural worker protection, and these workers do their spraying with any type of equipment that they can find, with no protecting clothing.

Due to the unstable situations of governments in many developing countries, some very important tasks like pesticide/chemical regulations and enforcement are ignored, and in most cases they only exist on paper. In some of these countries, Mafia-like groups are clearly involved in pesticide marketing and distribution and they also cover some government agents. Unfortunately, the recent global political problems and also the very recent food and environmental crisis are adding to the problem by widening the gap between the North, as the provider of these compounds and also the place of research bodies and regulatory agencies, and the South as the receiver of these compounds (sometimes as gifts!) and as the blind consumer. Perhaps the worst part of government and political roles in this bad scenario in developing countries is that all international conventions that deal with global pesticide/chemical problems are in the hands of governments in developing countries and in absolute control of them, and this is a big problem. These governments send their political and in most cases nonscientific agents to international conventions like Stockholm, Basel, IFCS, etc., and these international conventions accept these governmental agents instead of genuine scientific people. Now in the 21st century, it is time that those people involved in international conventions give more opportunities to representatives of NGOs from developing countries, to the real academic/scientific people from developing countries instead of only dealing with governments.

Ahmad Mahdavi, Ph.D.

Guelph, Ontario

Responsibility:Accept It

Jean S.'s support of her husband is noble (Letters, June 11); her concern over his bicycling welfare very apparent. Yet, the letter is also indicative of a continuously growing concern in our culture; a lack of accountability for one's actions. If I might relay the Cliffs Notes version of her 13-paragraph novella; man rides bike, man breaks law, actions witnessed by police officer, man receives ticket. This letter and those like it frequently convey only two main themes: We don't like to hold ourselves accountable for our actions and we definitely don't like the manner in which someone else holds us accountable for our actions.

Did the officer fall short in "selling" the ticket he issued? Unequivocally, yes. Does anyone but a police officer know how challenging it can be to issue citations to people who do not wish to receive them? Unequivocally, no.

When we are the victim of a crime, the police are "nowhere to be found." If we get stopped on the sidewalk by an officer investigating someone else's crime, we're being "harassed." When we're involved in a vehicle crash due to someone else's violation of the vehicle code, the cops "really need to do something about this." When our own violation of the vehicle code is witnessed and addressed by a police officer, we ask him/her why aren't they "out solving real crime instead of bothering me with this."

Just this past week, a sixth-grade child was killed in a tragic accident. Perhaps a vehicle code violation took place and the child lacking a helmet were factors in her death. Yet, on this very day I'm sure that someone is arguing over the citation they very well know they earned and some parent is calling the police department over their child being issued a "stupid ticket for no helmet."

If, on the whole, we held ourselves accountable for our own actions, I have no doubt our relationships with the law enforcement community would improve dramatically.

Kelly D.

Santa Clara

A Real Kick

Re Shawnee Rivera ("The Contender," Cover Story, May 28): Thank you so much for highlighting such an extraordinary and passionate woman in your magazine. The story was truly inspirational and showed how people can carve out the most interesting of lives and thrive. Thanks again!

Alison Landon