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Hogs suffer most

Thank you for your coverage of the expansion of Smithfield Foods ("Big pig," by Bob Geary and Lisa Sorg, April 4). Your articles are a great start; however, more needs to be written. Unfortunately, one major aspect of this expansion is being forgotten, and that is the suffering of the pigs.

The articles concentrated on the negative impact for workers and the environment, and those are two huge issues that certainly deserve coverage. However, we need to remember that the most significant suffering is happening to the pigs in the slaughterhouses. Suffering does not get any worse than if you are the one being slaughtered. Therefore, another big issue that needs to be addressed as Smithfield Foods attempts this expansion is that animal rights activists such as myself are starting to mobilize against this expansion.

The suffering must stop, and I hope that your sincere reporting on the suffering of workers and the environment will also start including the suffering of the pigs. Please, go listen to their squeals and write about that in addition to your already wonderful coverage.

Beth Levine

Catholics support research

In "Raleigh bishop supports Bush war policy" (Religious Left, April 4), Patrick O'Neill falsely claims that the Catholic church is opposed to stem cell research.

O'Neill has not done his homework. Generally speaking, the Catholic church actually supports stem cell research, provided that it's done on adult stem cells or stem cells extracted from umbilical cord blood, because those research modalities are non-destructive. The church only opposes embryonic stem cell research, because it requires the destruction of embryos.

To some, this might seem like splitting hairs, but in fact it's a crucial distinction that any religion reporter worthy of the name ought to make clear for the sake of accuracy. Not making it clear feeds misbegotten stereotypes of the church as anti-science, which would be news to many Catholic scientists through the ages, including the astronomers at the Vatican Observatory.

Patrick O'Hannigan

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