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Pepsi, Pesticides, And Drinking Water In India


I read "Pepsi: Repairing a poisoned reputation in India" (Special Report, June 11) with great interest. Instead of debating the appropriate standards for various pesticide levels in carbonated drinks, there is a simple way to determine if the current drink is safe for human consumption in India. Let PepsiCo (PIP) demonstrate that its corporate staff, especially the U.S. expatriates, drink Pepsi made in India.

David Chai

Foster City, Calif.

Pepsi's misadventure in India made us all feel guilty about water pollution. Contamination of water is a real problem. However, cola is not the first place to look for pesticides. Given the significantly higher (10,000 times) levels of pesticides in fruit, tea, and milk in India it is unlikely that water is the source of contamination. Companies like Pepsi and Coke use advanced processes such as reverse-osmosis to purify water. The food chain seems to be the primary source of pollution. It is well documented that Indian farmers use excessive amounts of pesticides and insecticides to protect their produce. Sugarcane cultivation in the tropical climate of India relies heavily on the use of pesticides. The most likely source of contamination of colas is sugar, not water.

M. Michaels

New York

We couldn't agree more that bottled water is not the answer to the challenges of emerging contaminants in tap water. Bottled water is less regulated than tap water, and waste from water bottles is one of the fastest-growing parts of the municipal waste stream.

Patti Lynn

Corporate Accountability International

Boston

One solution ("High gas prices: The road ahead," News & Insights, June 11) is to enact a windfall-profit tax on refiners and then give them a rebate in the form of a tax credit when they build a new refinery in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. Second, remove the import tax of 54 cents a gallon on sugarcane ethanol. These two suggestions will also reduce illegal immigration because they will create jobs in Mexico, Haiti, and other poor countries; and the ethanol suggestion will reduce corn food prices.

Brent Pittman

Brownsburg, Ind.

Specialized home-health programs across the U.S. are already addressing such critical and costly issues as heart failure, diabetes, and injuries due to falls ("The right cure for ailing elder care?" Sci Tech, June 11). National outcomes studies and independent research have documented their success in maintaining patient independence and controlling the cost of care. And these accomplishments are taking place within the current Medicare reimbursement system.

The home-health industry's latest objective is to reduce the percentage of home-care patients who experience unplanned or avoidable hospitalizations. If we can cut the hospitalization rate by three percentage points, an additional 110,000 older Americans can remain at home each year, and Medicare can save about $2.7 billion annually.

Susan Sender

Chief Nursing Executive

Gentiva Health Services Inc.

Melville, N.Y.

Encouraging more physicians to specialize in geriatrics by making it a viable part of the medical-school curriculum is a start in addressing the dearth of geriatricians, but several other factors come into play. Increased awareness and support for geriatric medicine through physician training, compensation, and medical reimbursements will go a long way to encourage more physicians to enter the field.

Another way is to raise the prestige of geriatrics in the medical community and within the nation's medical schools through a commitment to geriatrics training.

Geriatricians are the front-line providers to older patients with complex physical, social, and cognitive concerns. Putting them on the back burner should not be an option.

Stephanie Lederman

Executive Director

American Federation for Aging Research

New York

I was amused to read that, if nothing else, a skim-milk cow can at least help producers avoid discarding mountains of unneeded fat ("The skinny on a skim milk cow," SciTech, June 11).

According to the Agriculture Dept., the value of Class IV skim milk is posted at about 13 1/2 cents per pound. The value of butterfat is $1.57 per pound, or more than 10 times the value of skim milk. In the same way that we can be sure wheat farmers are not discarding mountains of wheat in order to sell the chaff, please be assured dairy producers are not discarding mountains of cream or butter in order to sell skim. Check it out in the supermarket where you shop and see which product commands the premium price per pound--skim milk or butter.

Richard Smith

ABS Global

DeForest, Wis.

Michael Moore and other proponents of universal health care seem to suggest that what Americans need is an all-you-can-eat health-care buffet ("Michael Moore on health care," UpFront, June 11). What this opinion ignores is that health begins with individuals and the lifestyle choices they make. The Centers for Disease Control has published its opinion that any person's health status is 50% influenced by behavior and lifestyle. Behaviors such as smoking, lack of exercise, and overeating are estimated to contribute up to 25% of all health-care costs in the U.S. Moore and most other Americans would be wise to get themselves healthier through better personal lifestyle decisions.

Ray Mead

Choice Advantage Insurance Solutions

Cardiff, Calif.

Moore deceived himself when he determined that some September 11 workers got better health care in Cuba than they were given in the U.S. I've had the chance to view the Cuban health-care system in daily practice, not at some staged event. And while the Cuban population in general is very healthy, the clinical and hospital facilities suffer the common fate of all Cuban infrastructure--woeful deterioration. The conditions are not sanitary, and the equipment is terribly outdated. The typical American would be hesitant to go into one of these facilities even to get his temperature taken.

Harry R. Clements

Wichita

Instead of socializing health care, as Michael Moore suggests, why not socialize the oil industry instead? A hundred billion dollars in oil profits could go a long way in reducing our tax burden, and then all of us could afford health-care costs.

J. Patrick Meagher

Oakland Park, Kan.


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