USDA Modifies

Farm Export Rules

The Agriculture Department, moving to comply with a ruling by the World Trade Organization, yesterday overhauled a program that helps U.S. farmers sell $3 billion worth of products a year to more than 75 countries.

The program had been challenged by Brazil on the grounds that it gave the United States an unfair advantage in selling farm products to customers abroad. It guaranteed lenders that the U.S. government would pay off loans to foreign food importers in the event of defaults.

While the program will continue, fees paid by exporters will have to reflect the higher risk on loans to financially vulnerable countries.

Adults Warned of Risk

With Antidepressants

U.S. regulators alerted the public yesterday to a potential link between antidepressant use and suicidal behavior in adults and urged close monitoring of anyone taking the widely prescribed drugs.

The warning was prompted by recent scientific publications that suggested a connection, the Food and Drug Administration said. The FDA had recommended in March 2004 that all antidepressant users be monitored for signs of worsening depression or suicidal behavior and later concluded that the drugs did add risk for children and teenagers.

Officials are trying to determine whether the medicines may provoke suicidal thoughts or actions in adults. The review is expected to take a year or longer.

Group Questions

Base-Closings List

Military bases in Hawaii and California are among several that a commission is considering adding to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's list of proposed closures.

In a letter sent yesterday to the Pentagon chief, the panel's chairman, Anthony J. Principi, identified additional bases the commission may recommend closing and asked for an explanation of why the Pentagon decided to leave those facilities open.

Specifically, the letter asks why the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and the Navy Broadway Complex, both in San Diego, and the U.S. Naval Shipyard at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were not slated for closure.

It also questions the Pentagon's decision to downsize rather than close the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine; Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina; and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

U.S. Sues Makers

Of Bulletproof Vests

The government yesterday sued the top U.S. supplier of bullet-resistant police vests and the Japanese manufacturer of the protective synthetic fiber used in the vests, contending they conspired to hide evidence that the body armor could be defective.

Second Chance Body Armor Inc. of Central Lake, Mich., and Toyobo Co. knew that the vests' ability to stop bullets was overstated, but Second Chance sold them anyway to local, state and federal police, according to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.

-- From News Services

and Staff Reports