Infusion Confusion; Baby Steps; Grain Drain; Lasn Learned

Infusion Confusion; Baby Steps; Grain Drain; Lasn Learned
Illustration by Andrea Wan

Infusion Confusion

I read Michael Harris’s “Bad Blood” (December) with interest. However, it doesn’t address the full problem. The donor questionnaire asks women to state whether, in the past twelve months, they have had sex with a man who has had sex with another man any time since 1977. This is an absurd question, because the only woman who can answer it accurately and truthfully is one who has not had sex with anyone since 1977. No woman can say with certainty that her male lover has not had sex with another man—even if her partner is her husband. I always approach the ridiculous question truthfully, refusing to answer in the affirmative (because I cannot). So my blood gets thrown out. After years of discussing this with blood donation officials, I have given up, and I have not donated in nearly a decade.

Rachel Corbett
St. Catharines, ON

For several years, I donated blood, until one day I was turned away. Not because I had been diagnosed with HIV or hepatitis or malaria. Not because I was gay. But because I lived in western Europe in the ’80s and am presumably at high risk for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or human mad cow disease. Never mind that I was a vegetarian for most of those years. Never mind that my former home, Germany, has never reported a case of variant CJD. Or that to date only 217 cases have been identified worldwide. I understand that Canadian Blood Services is traumatized by the HIV and hepatitis C debacle. But donor screening should be based on science, not emotion.

Stefanie Falz, MD
Kimberley, BC

Fifteen years post-Krever, Canadian Blood Services might actually be joining the real world.

@langluy (Twitter)

Baby Steps

The title of the article “Canada’s Most Unwanted” (December) was a serious misnomer of Canadian children available for adoption. These children are not unwanted; they just haven’t been discovered. The article itself pointed out that their biological parents love them deeply but are unable, for various reasons, to care for them adequately. As an Adoption Council of Canada volunteer, I take hundreds of telephone calls a year from prospective parents who desperately want to adopt. One plaintively said to me, “There are supposed to be 30,000 children in Canada to adopt, and I can’t put my hands on one of them.” Systemic and attitudinal barriers—such as lack of parental supports, lack of information to potential parents, lack of adequate systems to match parents and children, impediments to interprovincial adoption, and some social workers’ assertions that certain children are unadoptable—stop these children from finding permanent homes. In addition, articles (including this one) often focus on the disabilities of some children, leaving the impression that you must be a saint to adopt. There are many different children available for adoption, all with the possibility of fitting in to one family or another. The United States has made major strides in changing the disconnect between children available for adoption and parents who want to adopt, and so can we.

Patricia Paul-Carson
Adoption Council of Canada
Ottawa, ON

Grain Drain

There are ten drivers of the global food crisis, but Evan Fraser and Andrew Rimas refer to only two or three (“How to Feed Nine Billion,” December). Their article largely ignores water, soil, oil, research and development, farm finance, and so on, and it contains other serious misinformation. The food crisis did not begin in 2007, as they claim. It started in 2000 when demand first began to outstrip supply and grain reserves were run down. Phosphorus is essential to all living organisms: it is the P in the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) of DNA. The idea that we can grow huge harvests without it is zany. Storing food costs money and carbon. Who will pay for this? The problem of global food security is far more complex than the authors recognize: talk of “balanced investment portfolios,” “strategies,” and biblical solutions will not put food on the world’s tables.

Julian Cribb
Canberra, Australia

Lasn Learned

In assessing the question of Kalle Lasn’s possible anti-Semitism (“His One Demand,” December), Mark Leiren-Young mentions that the Canadian Jewish Congress (now the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs), “like the EU, starts from the premise that drawing a comparison between the Holocaust and anything Israel does is anti-Semitic.” There is no EU position on anti-Semitism. What exists, and what is commonly cited, is a working definition from the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia that has never been endorsed by the EUMC or its successor, the Fundamental Rights Agency. The FRA’s most recent publication on anti-Semitism (June 2012) does not even mention the so-called working definition.

It seems Zionist organizations and pro-Israel governments in North America are using the “EU” in this orphaned definition to legitimize the position that any criticism of Israeli government policies is inherently anti-Semitic. This in turn encourages a restriction of free speech, which might otherwise be unacceptable in democratic societies. Specifically, in several recent cases this definition has been invoked to muzzle Palestinian solidarity activism and speech, particularly on university campuses in North America. Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual series of awareness-raising activities at universities throughout the world, has been singled out for special attention.

Joanne Naiman
Seriously Free Speech Committee
Vancouver, BC

Fascinating look at the man behind the mag that was a social medium before there was social media.

@romy_nehme (Twitter)

I have no doubt that Kalle Lasn is an influential character, but many of us need to reread Richard Dawkins and reflect on his meaning for the word “meme.” My interpretation of his definition does not include such synonyms as “catchphrase,” “slogan,” or “cliché,” which I can readily apply to Lasn’s projects. Keep up the good work, Kalle, but let’s wait a little longer before the beatification.

Donald Ferguson
Kamloops, BC

This appeared in the March 2013 issue.

“The time has come,” The Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Send us a letter, an email (letters@thewalrus.ca), or a tweet, or post on this website. Comments may be published in any medium and edited for length, clarity, and accuracy. Mail correspondence to: 411 Richmond St. E., Suite B15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  M5A 3S5

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