Dear Sir,
It is now obvious that Western governments, including Japan, are, through political cowardice and the greed of some major corporations, quite deliberately crippling third world economies by throttling their primary industries.

In Africa they are forcing populations to the brink of starvation.
While the West preaches free–trade, copyright agreements, and banking regulations to suit their giant banks, and while it demands the reduction and elimination of trade and financial barriers worldwide, and while its corporations buy up and monopolize Third World utilities such as electricity, telecommunication and water resources in the name of globalization, these governments heartlessly enhance their own economies at the expense of poorer nations.

George Bush's recent $190'000'000 farm bill, which provided yet more subsidies for US farmers, is a classic example of the total contradiction and hypocrisy that exists between the fine words – which successive US and British and European administrations preach about aid – and the contrasting grim reality.

Africa, Asia and, to a lesser extent, the Caribbean are perfect examples of areas of the world in which living standards have drastically declined, and will continue to decline further, as corporate greed on the one hand and cowardly or corrupt politicians on the other ruthlessly exploit their power in international forums to economically enslave millions of the world's poorer people. Less than a decade ago Africa was a net exporter of primary products, but it now imports a considerable proportion of its food needs.

The huge subsidies the US and Europe pay to their farmers for corn, rice, sugar and sugar beet are classic examples of international double standards.
As outlined in a recent New York Times article by writer Michael Pollan, author of “The Botany of Desire: A Plant's–Eye View of the World”: “Under the 10–year program, taxpayers will pay farmers $4 billion a year to grow ever more corn, this despite the fact that Americans struggle to get rid of the surpluses the plant already produces. The average bushel of corn sells for about $2 today; it costs farmers more than $3 to grow it. But rather than design a program that would encourage farmers to plant less corn – which would have the benefit of lifting the price farmers receive for it – Congress has decided instead to subsidize corn by the bushel, thereby ensuring that corn's dominion over its American habitat will go unchallenged. “In the United States most of the animals Americans eat – chickens, pigs and cows – subsist today on a diet of corn, regardless of whether it is good for them. “In the case of beef cattle, which evolved to eat grass,” Pollan wrote, ” a corn diet wreaks havoc on their digestive system, making it necessary to feed them antibiotics to stave off illness and infection.

Even farm–raised salmon are being bred to tolerate corn – not a food their evolution has prepared them for. Why feed fish corn? Because it's the cheapest thing you can feed any animal, thanks to federal subsidies.” Corn is turned into everything from ethanol to Vitamin C, biodegradable plastic and high–fructose corn syrup This dramatically effects countries in the Caribbean and Africa – as soft drink, snack and sweet manufacturers have switched from sugar to corn sweeteners.

Pollan: “The problem in corn's case is that Americans are sacrificing the health of both their bodies and the environment by growing and eating so much of it. It's probably no coincidence that the wholesale switch to corn sweeteners in the 1980s marks the beginning of the epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in the United States.” And, “Corn is also doing lasting damage to the environment. Modern corn hybrids are the greediest of plants, demanding more nitrogen fertilizer than any other crop. Corn requires more pesticide than any other food crop. Runoff from these chemicals ends up polluting water supplies and killing marine life.” Michael Pollan concludes his article with the following: “Americans eat it as fast as they can in as many ways as they can – turning the fat of the land into, well, fat.” Just this week a Monsanto representative in Johannesburg was spouting to the BBC the benefits of Genetically modified corn – to raise output! The BBC interviewer forgot to ask about runaway GM crops polluting Mexico's natural corn or the demise of the Mexican corn industry through the import of subsidized US corn.

Then, what applies to corn in the US applies almost equally to sugar beet in Europe. This is outlined clearly in a recent Oxfam Policy Paper entitled, ”How Europe's sugar regime is devastating livelihoods in the developing world”.

The report: “European consumers and taxpayers are paying to destroy livelihoods in developing countries. Under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the EU has emerged as the world's largest exporter of white sugar.

Subsidies and tariffs generate vast profits for big sugar processors and large farmers – and vast surpluses that are dumped on world markets.
Smallholder farmers and agricultural laborers in poor countries suffer the consequences.
Oxfam is calling for an immediate end to EU sugar exports and improved market access for the poorest countries.” The Oxfam report adds: “No agricultural sector is in more urgent need of radical reform. Yet sugar is not even included in the European Commission's latest reform proposals.” Here are figures from the report which make interesting reading: “It costs $670 US (approx) to produce a tonne of white sugar in Europe compared with just $280 (approx) by more competitive producers such as Brazil, Ethiopia, Senegal and Mozambique.

Duties of up to 140% on foreign imports shut most low–cost producers out of Europe.” There are many subjects which need discussion at Johannesburg; such as Aids, clean water, housing and sustainable development but until something is done about the inequalities of international trade – which so grossly benefit the rich nations at the expense of the world's poorest nations – all talk is meaningless and just hot air.

Meb Cutlack. S'Arraco

Boycott US products

Dear Sir

There are floods and droughts, the icecaps are melting, and unusual weather patterns world wide, are devastating millions of lives, and yet another ineffectual Earth Summit (in Johannesburg) is being held. The great U.S of A with her arrogant President, Mr Bush, refuses to set an example or to be seen to lessen the greenhouse effects that are fast destroying our planet, our home, Mother Earth.

What can we, ineffectual little cogs in the great wheel, do to make a difference for humanity? The answer is simple – SANCTION ALL AMERICAN PRODUCTS – AND START RIGHT NOW!!!
America is an expert at applying economic sanctions so as to impose their will on unco–operative countries.
It is now time for we, the concerned citizens of Planet Earth to apply similar sanctions against them, and thus enforce their co–operation with regards world enviromental dangers.

Don't buy that next Coke or similar soft drink with an American origin. Forget the fast food 'Mc Donald's', 'KFC' etc, and the 'Kellogg's' or 'Post Toasties' for breakfast. Check the labels on everything, and buy American, only if you have to, and if there is no alternative. This goes for medicines, makeup, toothpaste, clothes, machinery, cars – just absolutely everything with an American connection! When it hurts the American pocket, their President and his minions will have to act and bring in drastic laws to try to save our Planet. Buy the products of countries that support the World Summit Enviromental aims. America refuses to co–operate. We, who are concerned, can make a difference! Act Now!

Nanette Roberts. Ibiza

My holiday spoilt by Bush!!!

Dear Sir,
I have just returned from holiday in Majorca ruined by the dreadful weather.
I read with interest a report in your newspaper which suggested that the heavy rains were caused by global warming. It really makes you think when you see endless rain in Majorca in August that global warming is ruining our planet. I just hope there is some accord and George W. Bush decides to help the world rather than helping to destroy it.

Mrs. Cynthia Atkins. London