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Kudos on the New Economy. Now Get Back to Work
I love BUSINESS WEEK, but would you people please stop beating your chests about discovering the New Economy ("Amid the euphoria, a note of caution," Editorials, Dec. 27)? You're starting to sound like Al Gore and the Internet. I'm glad you outed Alan Greenspan on productivity, but I worry that you're going to lose your ability to interpret economic data objectively. Congratulations. Now please move on.
Portland, Ore.Return to top
Comet Counts Cursors. It Doesn't Track Users
According to "On the Web, it's 1984," (Technology & You, Jan. 10), our Comet Cursor software tracks "what Web sites you visited and what you did while there." That's inaccurate. All we collect is anonymous cursor counts, which we use to bill clients who pay us on a per-cursor-impression basis. Since we deliberately don't ask for names or e-mail addresses, we have no way of finding out who downloads our software or where they go while surfing the Web.
The incorrect information comes from an erroneous Associated Press account. After we clarified the matter with the AP reporter, he amended his story to say we do not collect names or e-mail addresses and do not profile users. But the press had already jumped on what sounded like a sexy story: Fortunately, several publications, including The Industry Standard and The Christian Science Monitor, set the record straight. The Internet has given new meaning to the old Mark Twain quote: "A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."
New YorkEditor's note: BUSINESS WEEK regrets the error.Return to top
Would a Y2K Meltdown Have Been So Bad?
Triumphant at having avoided the Y2K bug, should we pause for a nanosecond to ponder what might have been ("What wonders Y2K will bring," Technology & You, Dec. 27)?
With computers down and software impotent, could we perhaps have built a bonfire, rather than program the New Year's Eve pyrotechnics? Slow-cooked in a real oven, rather than turbocharged in a microwave? Talked with a teller, rather than banked electronically? Gone to a play, rather than rented a video? Played with the children, rather than watched them fiddle with Pokemon? Read a book, instead of our e-mail? Would the world have been worse off?
Sydney, AustraliaReturn to top
No Need for "Biotech" Labels on Food
You may have overlooked some key issues in "Are bio-foods safe?" (Science & Technology, Dec. 20). First, the Food & Drug Administration enjoys the confidence of U.S. consumers precisely because its labeling regulations are rational and based on science. Existing FDA regulations ensure that food labels will be meaningful and wisely protect against confusing or even alarming consumers with irrelevant information.
Some California activists are now demanding labels to identify machine-harvested as opposed to handpicked tomatoes. Swiss environmentalists have tried unsuccessfully to mandate a label indicating whether water used in the processing of foods was recycled. But labels bearing such information would convey irrelevant messages, imply incorrectly that the buyer needs to be warned of unspecified dangers, raise costs throughout the production and distribution chain, and detract from important information that's on the label.
Labeling biotech foods will only create chaos. Today, with more than half of U.S. meals eaten outside the home, the label doesn't reach most foods consumed. In Britain, a new labeling law sparked a stampede by manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants to rid their products of biotech foods so they wouldn't have to post warning labels on their products.
The need to segregate biotech foods, especially the thousands of processed foods that contain small amounts of derivatives of corn or soybeans, would raise production costs in a low profit-margin sector. If some people want to avoid biotech foods, niche markets will arise--assuming that consumers are willing to pay a premium for foods certified to be "biotech-free," as they do for kosher, halal, and organic products. No government mandate is needed.
C. Manly Molpus
President and CEO
Grocery Manufacturers of America
WashingtonReturn to top