NEWSLETTER Aug - Sept 2008


Exit bereft Bernard Matthews in brand and persona from this ailing business – a name that has become as discredited as John Gummer’s for British beef. Individually and as customers (even indirectly though corporate procurements for schools, canteens, government agencies, food chains, green gatherings, and parliamentary collations) chase up recipes for a cruelty-free Christmas (such as ours).

Vote resolutely for turkeys (and geese and ducks) this year. We recommend teachers, journos, politicians, the food service industries and caterers to strengthen their resolve with a Short Report by the Farm Animal Welfare Network on Today’s Intensive Turkey Industry (From FAWN, PO Box 40, Holmfirth HD9 3YY, UK. Tel/Fax: +44 (0)1484 688650. Every teacher and cleric should have a copy...

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We welcomed this revival in the British industry of growing veggie alternatives to animal-based products that were losing their attraction for many reasons; notably the increasing efforts at cutting down on consumption of meat and animal-derived milks.

We were especially pleased because nut crops represent home-grown efforts offering attractive, home-grown alternatives singled out in our Green Plan for farming, food, health, and the land. And it was good, for once, to hear of and trade with happy British farmers. We donated bags of the nuts to various caterers and manufacturers as well as to other activists in the food industry, such as Deidre Hutton, chairperson of the Food Standards Agency.

But we have to quote from a letter from Jill Webb, Chief Nutter of Allens Farm in Plaxtol, Kent, that “sad to recall (and there is nothing so boring as a hard luck story about money) the cost of labour had increased to the point to where our costs almost doubled and we ended up doing it all for love.”...

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Fukuoka’s procedures involved four negative principles: no tilling, no weeding, no pesticides, and no fertilizers. Instead of plowing, he allowed plant roots and earthworms to penetrate and cultivate the soil, and sowed seeds on its surface, where they germinated in the same way as wild plants. Weeds were controlled through occasional trimming, temporary flooding and the use of straw mulch. In place of pesticides, Fukuoka relied on natural predators to control insects and other pests. Instead of chemical fertilisers, white clover was used to fix nitrogen, while crop rotation also helped to keep the soil fertile. Fukuoka grew rice in summer, and sowed winter crops such as rye and barley in autumn, before the rice had been harvested, so that the earth always remained covered. These were his main crops, but he also cultivated citrus fruit and vegetables on the hillsides surrounding his farm...

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Judge Peter Ross, aged 55 years, is a former director of the Office for Supervision of Solicitors. He has been a circuit judge since 2004 and hears most of his cases at Coventry Crown Court. He describes his hobbies in his entry in Who's Who as "shooting, smallholding, gardening, and fishing". In a letter issued during the trial and in a letter to lawyers, as submissions were being presented, Judge Ross, disclosing that "one of my hobbies is game shooting", concluded: "I do not consider that I should disqualify myself from hearing this case and believe that I can give all parties the fair hearing that they are entitled to." He attached a copy of his Who's Who entry.

Sean Kirtley was sentenced to a 4 ½-year term in jail for his part in a prolonged campaign against Sequani Ltd. In addition to the custodial sentence, he received a 5-year anti-social behavior order, which will come into effect on his release...

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Estimates indicate that for more than 50 years the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has failed to report the huge volumes of fish being caught collectively by small-scale fisheries in its statistics on national catches. The discrepancy is believed to be exacerbating the decline in fish stocks by allowing some of the poorest countries to report higher fish stocks than really exist. This allows them to sell off their fishing rights to richer nations, which take the highest-value fish.

Jennifer Jacquet, a member of the research team, said the official catch reported by the Mozambique government suggests that each citizen is eating about 3kg of fish per year. However, when the scientists looked at the catches being made by subsistence fishing, that consumption rate rose to 9kg a year. Despite this three-fold discrepancy, the Mozambique government was using its reported catch to justify selling off fishing permits to EU boats that were coming into Mozambique waters to fish for high-value shrimp, which often leads to substantial by-catch that is thrown overboard as waste fish, further depleting stocks for the local community. “Instead of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, we're stealing from the poor to give to the rich,” Ms Jacquet says...

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"Shooting doesn't play a part here any more," says Dr Pat Thompson, uplands conservation officer of the RSPB, which now occupies the old hunting lodge at Stagsike, with the coat of arms of the aristocratic Lowther family carved above its door. An ally among Geltsdale's previous owners, plus "a war chest of legacies, allowed the RSPB to buy the moor before taking over management full-time seven years ago," Pat Thompson explains.

The inroad into territory long controlled by grouse shooters, including the ruling Maktoum family of Dubai, has upped the stakes in the arguments which swirl round grouse moors, their biodiversity, and the threat to birds of prey as the Twelfth approaches every year. Geltsdale's management was attacked this spring by the Countryside Alliance, after a Natural England survey found that the estate had lower bird populations on average than 16 shooting moors in Cumbria. The RSPB hit back that the survey was too small and overlooked factors such as overgrazing which reduced lapwings before the new management approach got under way...

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  1. Olives from British Groves
  2. Delivering a Foretaste of Freshers' Fare at Uni
  3. Chef’s Hygiene Blow
  4. Anti-malarial Herbals
  5. The Beginnings of Food Processing
  6. Nutrigenomics and Research on Fatty Acids
  7. Is There a Future for the British Farmer?
  8. Electricity From the Sea
  9. Trespassers and Hunting

VEGA comments on consultations:







Hon. Research Adviser:
Dr Alan Long


14 Woodland Rise
Middlesex UB6 0RD
Tel / Fax: 020 89020073

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