Comments on the Future of Farming and Food

13th September 1999

Room 509, MAFF
Whitehall Place (West)
London. SW1A 2HH

I saw the Farmer's Weekly article referring to the consultation document "A New Direction for Agriculture" and the four related documents they report are available from your offices. I have not seen the reports but there is no doubt that the direction Agriculture is now taking is heading us for certain disaster.
We have lost control of our food supply and we are endangering our environment and our health in ways never before imagined. Agriculture is unique in the industrial world in that it relies upon and has great influence over the very forces of life itself and is therefore no place for the restricted views and interests of Economists and Accountants who do not take environmental issues into their calculations.
Perhaps more importantly Agriculture should not be viewed in isolation since it is on the backs of those in farming that many other related businesses ride.
In the 1960s when I first came to the Isle of Wight there were over 300 dairy farms. All of them needed the services of a veterinarian, feed suppliers, salesmen and engineers to supply and maintain dairy equipment and field machinery. They all had their milk collected by lorries, each with a driver, and the milk was collected daily in small quantities which ensured freshness and low risk of contamination in the bulk vats. Many employed cowmen and tractor drivers who lived in tied cottages and who themselves had families living in the villages and using local shops, public transport and who kept the villages alive. The farms were generally less intensive and farms with more than 100 cattle were very rare. Each farm had a small midden where manure was stored and then spread on the land to boost fertility. Pollution from such stores was inevitable but the volumes were small and the environment had been able to cope for hundreds of years.
Arable farms were smaller with rotational crops most of which were spring sown and insecticides were rarely used with perhaps a herbicide used on the growing crop in the spring at very low application rates. They too employed many men who each had families and they too used the services of local engineers and merchants. Much of their produce was also marketed to the local livestock farmers as feed and bedding.
In short there had developed over centuries a sustainable and self supporting system.
Then came the modern drive for "efficiency".
Now the dairy farmers are growing less in number every day and it is likely that only a dozen or two very large producers will remain by the end of this century. [Just 15 on the Isle of Wight by 2015] The large units are far more vulnerable to disease outbreaks. Two outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in my time were restricted to a few farms which allowed the supply of milk to continue. If such an outbreak occurred today it would be a disaster. Labour and machinery are now often shared between farms and the use of contractors moving between holdings is common. The susceptibility to disease is high in these big units and therefore antibiotic use is commonplace. The necessity for ever larger stores for manure has resulted in pollution and the need to control when and where the large volumes of toxic waste are disposed. The ever more intensive cropping regimes, driven by the subsidy system, has resulted in risks being taken with the ingredients of cattle feed said by MAFF to have resulted in BSE and we now have growing concerns over E.coli and salmonella which may well be the result of the use of mutating chemicals in the diet of animals and man. This in turn leads our "Expert" advisers to warn against the use of manure in its traditional role of returning fertility to the land.
As farmers leave livestock production in ever increasing numbers the farms are swallowed up by the new breed of agri-business men who care not a jot for fertility of the land or the precious landscape passed to them by generations of caring farmers. Hedges are bulldozed and long standing ditches filled to make room for the ever bigger machines used to beat the precious soil into submission. Soil erosion by wind and water are the inevitable consequences and the loss of predatory insects together with the failure to rotate crops in the traditional manner in the vast acres of monoculture result in the need for more and more pesticides.

Had those pesticides been properly tested for adverse reactions by the manufacturers before marketing them to the farmers this would not have created the problems but loss of habitat combined with the toxicity of the chemicals poured across the land has had a devastating effect on the diverse wildlife which we inherited.
Many farmers have themselves been harmed by the chemicals they use and they too have been forced to leave the land and have seen their once prized fields swallowed up by their subsidy grabbing neighbours.
Where once four arable farms each employing five or six tractor drivers and stockmen, with additional employment at harvest time for many of the casual staff, grew a variety of crops in small fields we now see one large agri-business with maybe one or two huge earth moving tractors and a sprayer almost in continuous use. The subsidy system is such that for years many of the fields had not even required to be properly harvested but still the agri-businessman received subsidy which would be the envy of the disabled and unemployed. By contrast the smaller neighbouring farmers who actually attempt to feed the world have become buried in a see of paperwork forced on them by Civil Servants largely ignorant of the reality on farms.

As if this situation was not bad enough the chemical companies see the chance to gain greater markets for themselves and a means to control every aspect of farming from seed supply to selling of the harvested crop and to be able to dictate to the farmer when to spray and fertilise the crop and which chemicals to use.
They purchase the seed companies and attempt to force their genetically modified crops on to the world even though the consumers are rightly concerned about the lack of testing and the environmental dangers.
The simply amazing aspect of this latest attack on the British food supply is that our Governments, led by the Civil Servants, are actually actively promoting this attempt to gain control.
The myth worshipped by those who would force these new controls on agriculture is that the new technology is somehow intended to help British Agriculture. We already had some of the highest yields in the world, higher in fact than those in the USA from which the technology first came. We had control over the safety of our food but gave that control to our competitors whose standards are lower than our own. Government advisers warned against the import of foreign meats for years - until the chemical industry and political advisers caused BSE and spread it amongst our prized livestock industry.
Now we are told we must accept seeds from companies who intend to ensure that they do not yield unless they are sprayed with their own products, which will, contrary to the laws requiring threshold levels to be reached before using insecticides, emit poisons to kill insects throughout their growing period and will of necessity be sprayed with chemicals proven to be unsafe to human life and to the environment.

It is not possible to turn back the clock but it is absolutely vital to halt this headlong rush to ecological disaster. Few of us actually were foolish enough to want to work the long and arduous hours on the land and there are fewer still now in the modern climate of instant gratification but there is no doubt in my mind that we must try to return to the smaller efficient units which served us so well. Big and fast may appear to be efficient and easily controlled but the wrong weather, disease or other unforeseen occurrence can easily alter the sums.
If one mighty tractor or grain store has a problem all is lost. The presence of many smaller units acts as insurance. How many times has a fault in a supermarket product resulted in panic across the land or even across borders of countries as in the Belgian dioxin scandal? Smaller units support more suppliers and enable them to have bigger margins for profit and therefore allow everyone to employ more tax paying staff.
Government should be encouraging the small producers - not destroying them.

I cannot find the source of the quote but remember it well.
"The sanity of a Nation depends on the number of its people who work on the land"
All of us need to eat and we need to know that the food we eat is safe and in plentiful supply.
I suggest that reliance on unreliable supplies of sub-standard imports is not the way to go.

Submission to the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food

2nd October 2001
Sir Donald Curry
Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food
Room LG12
Admiralty Arch
The Mall
London SW1A 2WH

Dear Sir,

I believe that this review is far too late and that had MAFF listened to those of us who warned of the dangers in the current approach instead of to their “economic advisers” the Foot and Mouth disaster would not have occurred at the devastating level we have experienced.

I have spent my working life in Agriculture but was away from it for long enough to see how little those not directly involved understand about their food and how it is produced. Nor do they really understand what makes the “countryside” which they profess to value “as an amenity resource”, a “playground” or simply to admire the scenery when “rambling”, or, more likely, “touring”.
Government policy in respect to agriculture has been influenced by individuals who do not understand the real impact of the industry about which they make often unfounded judgements.
Agriculture has been looked at as if it is just like any other industry. It is not. It is a vital link in a chain both locally and globally and its produce is not optional but is essential for our survival.
More importantly agriculture involves living organisms which do not abide by normal commercial economic rules. They are vulnerable to climate, freak weather, and disease, and there is therefore a vital need for diverse crops and farming methods if we are to ensure a supply of quality food.
As an industry agriculture does not stand alone. It is part of a complex chain of supply and demand and a host of inter-related industries depend upon the presence of a flourishing agricultural sector.
In short economists, such as the much quoted Sean Rickard, have managed to get the entire picture wrong simply because they examined agriculture in isolation.


It is said that larger farmers are “more efficient” but on what basis is this argument made?
Presumably in terms of production compared with costs and labour but certainly not in energy or environmental terms.
Is it more efficient to have thousands of animals in one large unit dependent on regular use of antibiotics and vulnerable to disease or to have many small units isolated from one another and therefore protected from transmissible diseases?
Is it more efficient to slaughter animals locally with individual farmers supplying the animals as needed or to have massive slaughterhouses fed from one end of the country to the other by lorries so large that they have to call at several farms on the way with the associated risk of disease transmission?
Is it more efficient for one slaughterhouse to supply supermarkets across the country with all the associated transport costs or for the meat to be brought in from local farms?
We have grown accustomed to long distance transfer of the food supplied to supermarkets but is it either efficient or truly safe?
We are told that small farmers are expendable and that the big farmers are more “environmentally friendly” but this is also not true. Big farms mean big machinery and this inevitably means bigger fields with removed hedgerows and filled ditches. This in turn results in fewer opportunities for our wild life to thrive and the environment will inevitably be the poorer with ever increasing species loss.
Additionally the variety of crops grown will also diminish as farmers will grow those varieties which they imagine will give the greatest yields. The crops will then be even more vulnerable to opportunist diseases, especially if the seed suppliers also profit from chemicals used for disease control. Commercial needs may well see an opportunity to supply vulnerable crops in order to boost chemical sales.
It has been suggested that there is no need for livestock production in this county but it is the livestock and centuries of what is now known as “organic” farming which built up the fertility in the soil which is now exploited by the new “agribusinesses”. There is no thought now for the future.
Soil erosion is another important consideration if we are to sustain food production in this country. Here again the larger farms and bigger fields simply encourage erosion by wind and water. Grassland always played an important part in building humus and soil fertility and grassland needs livestock in order to make the land productive and to protect the fertility. Livestock needs farmers and large numbers of them.
The current methods and those proposed by the economists are truly unsustainable.


This is promoted as a means to keep farmers on the land but farming, true farming, is a full time occupation, as any true stock farmer will acknowledge. Diversification means extra work and extra investment and there is no guarantee of reward. Those who set up bed and breakfast or holiday homes may well gain at first but this is not an option open to everyone. Perhaps more importantly this is a trade-off in both jobs and income because tourists who stay on farms are tourists lost to the hotel and traditional bed and breakfast establishments. The same is true for specialist cheeses, creams meats and butters. There is a market but it is limited and the one takes away sales from another.
It is not the answer to farming’s ills, or for the main picture, which should be to provide the security of a safe and trusted food supply.


Initially these were not introduced to help the farmer but to influence production to ensure sufficient supplies of quality food at a reasonable price to the consumer.
The UK subsidy scheme prior to EU membership had been devised for UK market conditions but the Common Agricultural Policy is entirely unrelated to the needs of the UK and its people.
The current subsidy system has simply aided the bigger farmers to become bigger and complacent but it is those farmers who have influence over the political decisions and they tend to favour themselves.
This aspect is demonstrated by those who moved production to Eastern Europe in order to take advantage of the future expansion of the EU and current trading opportunities.
We allow imports of produce which do not comply with our own standards and many are taking advantage of that while our own farmers suffer.
We now have the morally questionable situation in which a small farmer is unable to sell his produce at a price which will ensure survival while his heavily subsidised neighbour is able to buy him out and then grow subsidised crops - effectively paying for the land out of tax-payer’s money. The old farm buildings are sold and unwanted land offered for horse grazing or extensions to local gardens and the rest of the fields are amalgamated into one and cropped as the rest of the land. The influence over local planning and Government policy encourages the wholesale destruction, by conversion or by neglect, of old farm buildings and this in turn removes many wildlife havens such as are employed by bats and owls.
When the time is right these agribusinesses will pull the plug and move on leaving devastation in their wake and it will be extremely difficult to recover what was lost.
However in the mean time “agri-businessmen” often play the subsidy game and will plough up treasured habitat in the hope that they will be paid to protect environments that have developed over hundreds of years. The worry is that they actually get away with it and that “Environmental subsidies” have been suggested as a means to protect what little natural area we have left.
There must be a rethink on the whole issue of subsidy but what must be pointed out to the population as a whole is that the subsidy was originally intended to provide sufficient supplies of good food at reasonable cost and that the CAP has changed all that. Farmers should not be subsidised for growing crops which will never be used, or tobacco which will only endanger life, or for orchards and olive groves which have never existed. They should be subsidised for producing wholesome food without endangering the environment and there should be more research and support for such things as bio-fuels. Either that, or the government should enable farmers to set their own prices for their produce just as other industries are able to do. At the moment growers are given no power over the price of the end product and they may have to carry the risk and cost of production for years, often working 16 hours a day and 7 days a week, before the produce is ready for sale. It must hurt to the core to see that retailers are guaranteed a price to consumers resulting in as much, and usually more, profit for little risk and within weeks if not days of first handling the product.


It is simply not true that larger farms look after the environment better than small farms. It may be true that some large farms do undertake to provide habitat for non-agricultural species but this is likely to be on the traditional Estates and not on the more progressive agribusiness establishments where the profit motive rules all decisions. Many very large farms treat animals as commodities like any other and move them almost at whim from one end of the country to another. One even suggested to me that he wanted all his animals to get as many diseases as possible as this would, he hoped, make them less susceptible to any more diseases brought in with new stock purchases. Small farms tend to be less cavalier and they also tend to rear their own replacements and are therefore less vulnerable to disease.
As already mentioned the larger farms tend to use medicines and pesticides routinely because they have more need to do so due to the large numbers of animals involved. Many have the opportunity to obtain drugs and pesticides from sources outside of this country and this brings the risk to consumers and animals alike. It is not possible to keep accurate records when using such “grey imports” unless the farmer admits to having appropriated them in unapproved ways.
There is no doubt that we have all been misled about the environmental and human impact of pesticides.
However, it must be pointed out that this is not a problem caused by farmers alone. In recent years I have been surprised to discover just how many farmers misuse and abuse pesticides but they are not alone.
It is perfectly clear that gardeners and householders are caught in the same trap as the farmer and the horticulturalists and foresters. We were all told that no chemical could be marketed unless proved safe but now we know that this is far from the truth. In the meantime the loss of species continues and this is not merely due to the admitted direct adverse effects on life but it is also the result of imbalances in the natural food supply for wildlife and induced reproductive disorders.
Many insects are plant species specific. Remove the plants and the insects are gone too. We have removed hundreds of plant species from the environment and with them the insects on which they thrive in mutual benefit. We have seen a rise in predatory birds but a fall in songbirds, including the Cuckoo, which in itself depends on the smaller birds. Predatory birds are also scavengers, which is probably why they thrive as other birds and animals die – for a short time – and then they too will be gone.
Now we have the added threat and current environmental contamination from GM crops. These increasingly ubiquitous foreign genes are spreading across our land. They are intentionally designed either to depend on poisons or to excrete poisons. They cannot be “environmentally friendly”.
Farmers are restricted when using insecticides to use them only when threshold levels are reached in order to protect non-target species for as long as possible.
GM crops which excrete their own toxins do so on a continuous basis and probably even after harvest via roots systems and “volunteer”, self-sown growth. This cannot be good for the environment.
Furthermore the GM crops which are developed to resist herbicides are also detrimental to the environment because the herbicide wipes out all the weeds in the crop, leaving nothing but the crop alive.
This in itself reduces the variety of insects within the crop but there is a far more serious issue and that is the fact that these chemicals also act as insecticides. This cannot be good for the environment and it is also likely that the use of those same chemicals on set-aside land, combined with the high summer use of organophosphorus insecticides to control orange blossom midge in wheat and the pod weevils in oilseed rape may well explain the observed rapid decline in insect feeding and summer visiting birds.
Set-aside has itself been implicated in the spread of toxins such as ergot and the very fact that such a system is employed demonstrates that current agricultural policy is grossly flawed.
Cropped land is heavily fertilised and regularly treated with pesticides in order to maximise yields in the drive for “efficiency” whilst at the same time land is unused because politicians declare that we are producing too much food. This when millions around the world starve every year because the rich nations decline to provide the food required to fend off starvation and even take from them their own food and natural resources in order to maintain the lifestyle we have become accustomed to. There is therefore a worldwide environmental effect resulting from our current unsustainable system.


There is no doubt that the pesticide regulations should protect our health and our environment but the problem is that those regulations are not properly enforced.
From initial discovery and development all of the processes are regulated but when those regulations are breached “blind eyes” are turned on the problem and so we have inadequately tested chemicals spread around the environment. Additional problems are seen with imports from countries where different safety criteria are employed and where checks are not even as stringent as they are here in the UK.
Evidence of the inadequacy of testing is found in the fact that the EU is to withdraw use of almost 50% of the pesticides in current use by 2003 and that restrictions on some of the dangerous co-formulants are only now being considered.
Because these chemicals were not properly studied before release into the environment it is impossible to know what the results of their use will be but science is beginning to see that many of them can actually disturb the human metabolism and endocrine systems. Such disturbances of normal functions can alter protein formation, energy transfer and hormonal balances inducing a wide range of serious and long-lasting adverse health effects, including cancers, brain damage and deformities, which only add to the already immense burden of the National Health Service.
If agriculture and horticulture are to depend on pesticides and artificial fertilisers then we must ensure that these products are as safe as possible, that fertilisers and other chemicals are not used as a means to dispose of hazardous industrial waste, and that the laws intended to ensure safety and to protect us are properly enforced. This may require a complete rethink on how the regulatory committees are formed and a determined effort to remove the influence over them by the chemical companies.
In fact it may be possible for the UK to return to a more natural way of growing crops in order to fulfil the growing needs of the organic food industry and herbal medicine. This would effectively enhance the scenery prized by those who appreciate such things and reduce the costs of the imports of such products.
The argument that such methods would reduce yields seems spurious given that not all farmers would take up the option and that there are already thousands of acres taken out of production.
Moves to reduce pesticide use and to ban the unnecessary GM crops, which have often been found both to increase herbicide use and to have lower yields, would seem to be welcomed by the majority of observers.


There is a real need for true independence in the regulatory bodies. The Food Standards Agency was formed from staff taken from the Department of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food and its chairman has openly supported Genetically Engineered crops in addition to denying the proven risks from the use of certain pesticides. This is simply a continuation of the same process of denial that brought down MAFF when they were shown to be completely out of touch with reality during the Foot and Mouth Crisis and even through the BSE disaster. The same faces appear to be in control, even if they are not, and they are only too keen to raise issues of unproven science, such as the links between BSE and vCJD, BSE in sheep, or organisms in milk being responsible for Crohn’s disease, while at the same time dismissing proven risks from pesticides such as organophosphates. This cannot continue.
Certain scientific groups have the ear of the regulators and if it suits their purpose, even if only to assist in obtaining lucrative grants, these regulatory bodies seem almost too keen to endanger the reputation of British agriculture, even if there is no clear independently verified scientific evidence to support them.
Recently we had reports that the Government was prepared to kill every sheep in Britain if BSE was discovered in the national flock. Certain scientists seem determined to find evidence of that BSE no matter whether the science is valid or not. Often they are the same scientists who claimed that BSE was caused by scrapie and so the entire argument is flawed from the start. If scrapie was that dangerous we would have had serious health problems years ago and the scientists would have called for sheep to be killed first and not for the cattle cull which has cost, and still continues to cost, the country so dear.
Scientific theory all too easily is claimed to be scientific fact these days – even without supporting evidence. Similarly with e-coli and salmonella. There is evidence that both these bacteria are used regularly by science to determine the potential of chemicals to cause malformation in cells. No one seems to have checked to discover if one of those mutated bacteria found its way out of a laboratory into the human, animal or domestic pet populations and yet whenever there is an outbreak the first group to be blamed are the farmers. At no time do the scientists ask themselves if their own chemicals could have caused such mutations when released into the environment and yet some common pesticides have been shown to be capable of mutating just these types of bacteria.
In the farm animal there is the almost constant presence of chemicals in the gut because many are added to the food. Once in the gut they find a whole host of naturally present bacteria, many of which are essential to life, and the conditions there are perfect for growth and the chances of mutation must be high.
The risk would be considerably reduced if those mutating chemicals were first removed from the food.
However, as usual, the scientists do not look for causes. Instead they look for profitable ways of controlling the problems caused. In that way they can still sell the mutating chemicals and the ever more powerful drugs and disinfectants needed to control the mutating bacteria.

Farmers are penalised if the cattle arriving at the slaughterhouse are dirty but they do not have control.
The animals may leave the farm clean but they must face longer journeys now than they ever did, often with repeated stops to load more strange animals, from far away farms, on the way to the slaughterhouse.
The potential for contamination is high, just as the potential to spread disease is high.
At the slaughterhouse the inspectorate is reported to be often not up to the job and to act against the workers involved. No doubt there are some unscrupulous workers and there have been reports of condemned meat entering the food chain but if that is the case then it again queries the standards of the inspectors and the way the entire issue is regulated. All those doubts add to consumer fears but again this is the result of failure to enforce regulations properly whilst at the same time being over-zealous on those regulations which have resulted in the closure of so many perfectly good and efficient abattoirs. Sometimes it seems that there is a hidden hand directing closures in order to benefit those who are left.
Those who took these decisions must take some responsibility for the recent Foot and Mouth disaster.
The movement of animals from one end of the country to another, either for slaughter, or for resale, cannot be either necessary or good practice.

The issue of grey imports of medicines and pesticides was raised earlier.
Law-abiding farmers purchase veterinary medicines and pesticides from reputable local suppliers such as veterinary surgeons and Agricultural Merchants and they have done so for decades. Additionally there is a requirement to keep adequate records of both pesticides and medicines used and for the latter the withholding times for milk and meat after last treatment. Strangely in all the years that I was responsible for such records they were never checked but the point that is missed is that if the treatments were purchased from “other sources”, which might include suitcases from overseas, then such records are unlikely to be kept. On a large farm it might also be very tempting to ignore the withholding times in order to maximise profit.
With pesticides we had a local example of just this practice and it was clear that the records kept were false. Strangely, despite the much-publicised “Rigorous testing procedures”, neither the regulatory bodies nor the supermarkets supplied detected either the use of illegal substances or the excess application rates and withholding time breaches. The problem only came to light when the employer went too far and sacked the employees who knew the truth. They, not the employer, became the ostracised parties.
There must be an urgent change in approach on these matters. The system as it stands is failing us all.


What farmers and the general public cannot understand is why the Government allows the import of substandard foods, often from countries where there are endemic diseases and weaker pesticide laws.
The recent Foot and Mouth disaster may have as yet untold causes but however it began it is clear that before this outbreak there was no such disease outside of the experimental laboratories in this country and so the problem must have been imported. We are told that tonnes of illegal and unhygienic meats are regularly imported into this country and that the risk of even more devastating human diseases is real.
These meats undercut the market price achievable by UK farmers and yet the costs involved in producing food of the expected standard are far higher because of the very necessary regulations imposed here.
The farming community has no control over these issues, no matter whether they are large concerns or traditional small family farms. These are issues of national policy and the time has long since passed when the anomalies should have been addressed and rectified.
Free world trade should be in safe and quality commodities. It should not be an excuse for the dumping of second grade products or the deliberate undermining of previously successful and well-respected UK-based industry no matter if it is industrial or food production. The current position seems to be that we are forced to allow in imports of a quality that we are banned from exporting.
BSE is another example. The UK was banned from exporting meat because of the claimed, but still unproven, risk and yet despite those claimed risks we were and are importing meat from countries that have an escalating incidence of BSE the cause of which has, so far, not been explained.
The ban on UK exports was supposedly due to concerns for human health and yet we seem powerless to protect our own population from the same supposed risks.
Foot and Mouth, swine fever, BSE, meat from animals reared with the use of man-made hormones and/or antibiotics, and genetically modified foods with high pesticide levels, are just a few areas of concern.

IMPROVING THE SITUATION The first priority should be to provide a system of food production and marketing which will ensure a sufficient supply of safe, quality food. This will not be achieved by more centralisation of production and stock control because such systems are more vulnerable to both contamination and catastrophic failure but there is a real need to decentralise and return to more local methods of production and marketing.
Unfortunately the current thinking is ruled by the supermarkets and economists but it would be cheaper, safer, and easier for large concerns to obtain their supplies from local abattoirs for example than for live cattle to be transported from farm to farm and then to a central abattoir from which the same journey must be undertaken to get the processed meat back to the local supermarkets.
The Isle of Wight is a perfect example. With no slaughterhouse every animal must be taken off of the island by lorry to the nearest slaughterhouse or to the one designated by the supermarket buyer.
People on the island eat meat and so the finished product must be brought all the way back again. It is fairly obvious that moving tonnes of live animals away and more tonnes of meat back is wasteful and contributes to the air pollution and fuel reserve problems. There must be a better way.

On pesticides there is an urgent need to weed out the corruption within the system so that there is honest appraisal both of chemical safety and the effects on human health. There is an enormous potential for improving the health of the nation by this simple step. Many of the environmental pollutants are carcinogenic and others are known to induce sensitivity, allergy and even heart disease and brain damage.
We must sort out the tangled web of deceit designed to deny the truth, and free medicine from the constraints of big business influence.

The “Organic” movement should be encouraged but it should not be controlled by one self-interested body. The Government should work with all the various sectors of the movement and devise a sensible way forward for all farmers in efforts to minimise the use of pesticides and medicines.
Those opposed to the organic movement often claim that there is no difference between what they term “conventionally grown” vegetables and those grown in the more traditional “organic” way. They even claim that there is no difference in taste but this is one of the greatest lies ever told. Vegetables grown organically are significantly different and there have been many reports from individuals poisoned by pesticides that they dare not eat vegetables grown using pesticides because they react badly to them.
The body is capable of detecting minute changes in taste, smell and chemical content, as proven by wine-tasters who can name the vineyard, and even which slope upon which the grapes were grown.
Potatoes grown organically are much firmer than the irrigated and chemically encouraged crops. Perhaps the most striking example is Brussels sprouts.
Many have found them distasteful when grown with the aid of pesticides and nitrogenous fertilisers but when grown using more natural methods they taste much sweeter and are entirely different.
It is often forgotten that man managed to live by these more natural methods until the last century and that the dangerous chemicals, which themselves are known to harm human health, have largely offset the advances in medicine which had until very recently improved the overall health of the population.

On the environment and the scenery enjoyed by all lovers of “the countryside” we must understand that it didn’t get there by some magical chance. It was formed by a complex balance of powerful natural forces, of climate and weather, of erosion, the influence of the presence of man and of wildlife, and the way man worked the land and grazed the wild places with his livestock.
Without man farming the land it will quickly change and become inaccessible. There is at the present time a section of opinion which believes that if a toxin is widely spread it becomes harmless but with some cumulative and irreversible poisons this is far from true. If we continue to allow the distribution of these toxins on the land we will inevitably poison all the land currently available for food production and it will also have a detrimental effect on wildlife.
Forestry is another long-term industry and this too has changed. The move towards replacing natural deciduous woodland with fast growing coniferous cropping programmes has already changed the face of the countryside to the detriment of the wildlife and the soil. Again the driving force is the quick return on the investment, just as the use of pulped and reformed wood substitutes has replaced the skills of properly seasoning the wood used by the cabinet-maker, carpenter and joiner.

There has been a revolution in the countryside but the quality of the work and its produce is inferior.
Our forefathers and the wonders of Mother Nature combined to give us our inheritance and we have no right to destroy that and deny it to future generations simply in the chase for profit and “free trade”.


Sadly officials in this country often have little knowledge of the subjects over which they preside but it is also clear that there is an arrogance that refuses to allow them to accept the views of those of us who attempt to give them some little understanding of the problems
Earlier it was mentioned that MAFF failed to heed the warnings that the UK was vulnerable to a rapidly spreading disease and that it was entirely wrong to attempt to view Agriculture in isolation.

What follows is a letter written to MAFF when they were considering their paper “A new Direction for Agriculture”. The Minister Mr Nick Brown then presided over the production of the booklet “Towards Sustainable Agriculture” but it looked at Agriculture as if it was completely separated from the industries serving it and even from the industries it supplies.
Agriculture is unique in the economy and it took the Foot and Mouth Crisis to demonstrate how a decline in agriculture can adversely affect other industries such as tourism. However it does not stop there because the way farms are farmed affects the air quality, the water quality and most importantly of all the quality of the food upon which our very lives depend.

The industry deserves better recognition that has been given by recent governments but most of all the people of this country require that their politicians obtain the best deal possible from their taxes in order to maintain a secure and most importantly a safe supply of food and a living natural environment.

Yours sincerely,


Sadly since 2001 there has been yet another Foot and Mouth Disease scandal involving the release of the deadly disease from a research laboratory.
There have been more scandals over the growing of unapproved GM crops, claimed to be from "accidental contamination of the seed supply".
The promised segregation of GM produce from non-GM has become a joke with the entire world's food supply contaminated and a determination by the GM companies to gain control over most foods eaten in our basic diet.
Fertile fields across the UK have been covered in Solar Panels or used to grow oil crops and crops used for bio-ethanol or for feeding digesters used to produce gas or electricity, while politicians try to convince the nation that without embracing GM crops the world will starve.
Green belt land that once was protected from develoment has been surrendered with planning laws changed to make building on the green field sites easier and more profitable.
The dangers of pesticides to the population was proven in the UK High Court but then hidden again when government used false information in its appeal.
Traceability of meat claimed as "from field to plate", promised by legislation following the BSE crisis, was proven to be utter nonsense by the Horse Meat Scandal, which saw illegal horse meat bing sold to unsuspecting consumers as prime beef. Despite driugs used on horses being banned for use on animals intended for human consumption the Regulatory Authorities proclaimed complacently that there was no health risk to consumers who were fraudulently sold that meat.
Meanwhile political representatives in the UK and in Europe are prepared to sell out the consumers' health in return for increased profits and open doors to such scandals via world-wide treaties demanded by the corporate controlled USA.

The Future for Food and Farming looks very bleak indeed.

Dated 02/10/01 - Uploaded to website 07/03/2015

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