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Experiment in Kinship

Though American families have been adopting children from abroad for decades, the process remains beset by uncertainty. Every decade, it seems, a new country becomes a popular source of adopted children just as another fades away. Not too long ago, China and Guatemala ranked near the top of the list, only to recede as national governments implemented stricter regulations. Last month Russia instituted a moratorium on foreign adoptions after an American mother sent her adopted boy back to Moscow unaccompanied on a plane. She said she could no longer handle him.

Adopting a child from another country often presents such unexpected challenges. The medical histories of these children, many of whom suffer from neglect, are sometimes shrouded in mystery. In Russia fetal alcohol syndrome is a particular scourge. The adoption process can take years, and even after a child is “matched” to a family in the United States, the final adoption is far from guaranteed.

In light of such daunting facts, it is a wonder that American families press on with the process. That they do is a sign of a laudable humanitarian spirit. Parents willing to adopt children with potential developmental problems deserve not only our admiration but our hands-on support. It takes a village to raise any child, but especially one with disabilities. The prolife community, too often focused on legal battles, has a special responsibility to foster the human and institutional networks necessary to create an environment welcoming to all children. Though obstacles may exist to international adoption, may what one writer called this “remarkable experiment in human kinship” continue.

Dawn of the Superweed

Proponents of sustainable agricultural have long worried over the reliance of U.S. farmers on Monsanto Corporation’s line of “Roundup Ready” genetically modified products. These are proprietary soy, corn, cotton and other commodity crop seed lines that have been genetically altered to tolerate another Monsanto product, Roundup herbicide. One major concern has been that the overuse of this herbicide would inevitably lead to an era of “superweeds,” plants that have evolved, without the kind attention of Monsanto geneticists, to likewise tolerate Roundup. Since the advent of the era of genetic modification in the 1990s, such worries were downplayed by big agriculture, but the time of the superweed is apparently already upon us.

Roundup-resistant weeds like horseweed and giant ragweed are raging across the American farm belt. The arrival of the superweeds does not herald the dawn of an age of monster plants, but it is forcing farmers to seek out more toxic herbicides or to revert to labor-intensive methods of weed control or else give up completely and plow under their overgrown fields. The coming of the superweed promises higher prices at the market and greater environmental degradation as more aggressive weed-control techniques are adopted.

Big-Ag corporations like Monsanto have touted the benefits of their expensive—and profitable (to them at least)—biotech approach to wrestle food out of the ground even as they have muted voices that promote a less confrontational, sustainable path to food production. That alternative vision seeks not to defeat Mother Nature but to cooperate with her. It is not hard to imagine that Monsanto’s answer to the superweed will likely involve a superherbicide, but is this an arms race with Earth that we want to win?

A List Too Far

You can find almost anything on Craigslist, and that is becoming a problem. The Web site, which allows users to list or browse free classified ads for everything from new roommates to used furniture, has grown into one of the most popular sites in the United States. It has also become the country’s largest source of prostitution, according to law enforcement officials and advocates for victims of sex trafficking. In April, 14 members of the mafia were arrested, in part for using the site to sell sex with teenage girls.

An increasingly large percentage of Craigslist’s revenue comes from one section of paid listings. Titled Adult Services, this has become an online hub for prostitution and sex trafficking. The Advanced Interactive Media Group recently estimated that the site will earn $36 million in revenue from the adult listings this year.

When Craigslist began charging for the adult ads, the site promised to donate the profits from these ads to charity (although several organizations now say they would not want money earned from the sale of such ads). Under increasing pressure from several state officials, Craigslist chose to monitor manually each post in their adult services category. But this monitoring has done little to slow the sale of the listings, and advocates and officials remain concerned. Craigslist is not the only place such ads can be found, but the company must recognize that their presence on the site offers posters an unprecedented combination of easily accessible, low-cost listings and a vast audience. Craigslist funds two charities of its own, but the good work these might facilitate do not outweigh the harm to which these ads can lead.

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