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Aspects of mad cow disease misunderstoodI read...


Aspects of mad cow disease misunderstood

I read Richard Rhodes' book "Deadly Feasts" (book review, March 30), and would say it is well-written and the history of early transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) research is reasonably truthful.

The book, however, includes no information from government officials or scientists working to prevent bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S. In addition, Mr. Rhodes frequently relies on speculative quotes without scientific evidence.

Mr. Rhodes attributes a BSE-like outbreak in minks (TME) to the feeding protein from cattle infected with a domestic version of BSE. However, despite 10 years of investigation by scientists and veterinarians, there is still no evidence that TME was the result of a cattle disease.

Mr. Rhodes ignores the side of the story that could have been told by other scientific experts, which is that there have been 10 years of aggressive BSE surveillance and tests of thousands of cattle brain samples by the USDA and other scientists. A single case of BSE or any similar disease has yet to be found.

A year ago, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and other groups requested a voluntary ban on feeding animal protein by-products to cattle pending a comprehensive review by the FDA. Cattlemen support the intent of the impending FDA rule, as it is an extra step to ensure that if BSE ever got into the U.S., it would be controlled, prevented from spreading and eliminated.

Gary Weber

Washington, D.C.

The writer is on the staff of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

School workers should be rated on product

I am writing this letter concerning the Baltimore school system. The statistics brought forth in a Sun article are astounding if true. It stated that only 13 percent of Baltimore City students pass their qualification test.

I may be incorrect, but I do not know of any industry or business that could exist if 87 percent of its products were unsatisfactory.

If a worker at General Motors would produce widgets that would be defective 87 percent of the time, that person would be looking for another line of work.

If the doctor delivering babies could only deliver healthy babies 13 percent of the time, that doctor would be in big, big trouble.

Why do we continue to keep the incompetent and ineffective school administrators and teachers, when other professions would have booted them a long time ago?

Marty A. Svert


Columnist strikes nerve on salaries

I find it ironic that Michael Olesker complains about the closing of the London Fog factory (column, April 6), considering how much he pushes for legalized gambling in Maryland.

Because, you see, gambling produces nothing. All gambling does is pass money from one hand to another, usually from a poorer person to a richer person.

We have become a nation of non-producers, so the passing of the London Fog factory should come as no surprise.

Jeff Thorssell


Michael Olesker's April 6 column comparing salaries that London Fog found too high with those of a few top baseball players was a perfect match for your series on housing in Baltimore, where two or three demolition businesses are making a killing while the city is left in ruins.

The absence of a sound plan for the demolition pattern and the ill-fated policy of tying up abandoned properties with escalating liens ensure that our city will continue its general decline.

It was particularly troubling to read of the buyers, who were lured into purchasing low-cost rowhouses, only to end up saddled with thousands and thousands of dollars in spiraling debt in response to some intervention or service provided by the city.

The Sun is to be commended for the quality of its regular columns and for the level of investigative reporting that went into this enlightening series.

Dolores Moran


When the fingers do the talking

I find it amusing in a satirical sense that letter writers continue to complain about the need to utilize 10 digits to complete local phone calls. That seems trivial compared to what technological growth has done to the communication industry.

Do these complainers realize that automated telephone answering systems, fax machines, World Wide Web, data lines, etc., are mostly responsible for the 10 digit local dialing system?

Also, do these grumblers realize that the 10 digits required for a local call to an automated answering system is only the beginning of their agony?

Why? Because of the need to wade through another system of menus requiring new digits to be tapped only to reach someone's voice mailbox.

Finally, do these ill-tempered people, like myself, become so frustrated with our inability to communicate directly with another human being, that we end up writing letters to the editor complaining about something as trivial as needing to key 10 times to make a local call?

The answer is simple -- buy an automatic dialing system to make all local phone calls that you never are able to complete because we've grown so technically discerning that we are unable to communicate successfully without tapping phone keys in excess of those needed to dial.

Sy Steinberg


Why stop with big liquor stores?

Without judging whether the ban of large liquor stores in Baltimore County is good for business, I wonder why 158 legislators did not apply the same logic to restrict mom-and-pop store crushers such as Wal-Mart.

Richard J. Peltz


Pub Date: 4/13/97

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