Archive for the ‘debate’ Category

Farming Today – food from cloned animals

9 December, 2010

BBC Radio 4 (listen again)

Animal welfare groups say they’re appalled that meat and milk from the offspring of cloned animals can be sold in shops without being labelled as such. The Food Standards Agency board says there are no health risk to humans but animal welfare groups say consumers will be unknowingly supporting cloning which they say is cruel and causes suffering to animals.

The RSPCA tell Anna about their planned emergency rescue of 4000 sheep stranded on the moorlands of Northumberland – made inaccessible in waist-deep snow – without access to food.

Organic yields in Africa

7 December, 2010

“UN research has shown that the adoption of organic and near-organic farming practices in Africa has improved yields by 116%, improved access to food for both farmers and local communities, and raised incomes.”

Isobel Tomlinson, Policy and Campaigns officer at the Soil Association
The Guardian – 7 December 2010

BBC Oxford organic debate

8 September, 2010

Organic debate on BBC Radio Oxford
Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, took part in a discussion on the benefits of organic food and farming with Rob Johnston, scientist and self-proclaimed organic sceptic.

BBC Radio Oxford (6 Sept, 11mins 30seconds in)

Food Inc film on Friday

8 September, 2010

On Friday evening our local Slow Food group is showing Food Inc. Join us to see this extraordinary film about the food we eat. Our majestic Oak Room becomes a cinema for the night! Refreshments available.

A documentary directed by Robert Kenner and featuring campaigner Eric Schlosser, this is a real eye-opener which investigates the state of modern food – and its impact. 

FOOD inc.
Showing 7.30pm
Friday 10 September

Tickets £5 for members, £7 guests. – Tel: 01672 541 695

Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, Sheepdrove Road, Lambourn. Directions here.


Cloned beef? What does the fiasco mean for food?

6 August, 2010

“Beneath the sensationalism, it highlighted several serious issues for people who care about where their meat comes from, food quality – and last but not least – animal welfare.”    
Jason Ball,

Read the full article… No Cloned Animals Guarantee!

NEW: The Story of Cosmetics

19 July, 2010

Have you heard of ‘The Story of Stuff’ campaigns? Look out for their new site, being launched on Wednesday 21 July…


Sheepdrove applauds ‘The Story of Stuff’ which is doing a great job of raising awareness about the disaster capitalism we’re all wrapped up in, and why all of our STUFF might not be as great as we think it is.

Now they are tackling the toxic cosmetics found in every home and handbag. What frightening chemicals will you use today? We suggest you shop with Neals Yard Remedies!

FSA bias against organics

16 July, 2010

The Soil Association’s initial reaction to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) research when it was published in July last year was that it as misleading. Having taken detailed scientific advice, the Soil Association is now clear that the research was designed in a way that produced inaccurate conclusions which were then presented by the FSA in a biased and misleading way.

Following meetings with both the Chair and the Chief Executive of the FSA, and at their suggestion, the Soil Association and the Organic Trade Board are raising a large number of concerns about the FSA’s behaviour, and the way the scientist they commissioned went about this research, with the FSA’s General Advisory Committee on Science – hopefully they will report sometime this year.

The FSA’s review contradicted other recent science which has shown significant nutritional differences between organic and non-organic food. A paper will be published shortly in a prestigious scientific journal which examines how these different results were arrived at , and why the FSA’s were wrong. On 20 May this year, the FSA released the raw data on which their scientific conclusions were based – a scandalous 10 months after the research was published, and 7 months after the FSA Chair agreed to do so.

This data will now be reworked by independent scientists, led by Professor Carlo Leifert at Newcastle University, to investigate further how it was that the well-known and widely reported nutritional difference between organic and non-organic food were found to be ‘not significant’ by the FSA research.

This work is not likely to be published in a peer reviewed journal before the end of this year

Government To Put Down Its FSA Lapdog

16 July, 2010

My reaction to the news that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to be abolished was mixed. Like many others, I campaigned for its establishment and was delighted when it came in to being. Disappointment quickly followed.

It was probably inevitable that the appointment of Smug Sir John Krebs as its first chair would lead to partiality, loss of vision and to the watchdog becoming a lapdog. His world view seems to begin and end at the inner councils of The Royal Society. His patronising, reductionist science knows it all approach set the culture and the core methodology of the FSA. Unfortunately, this approach was also prevalent in the Department of Health and within the Department of the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).

It is not that the FSA has been especially pro-industry or anti-NGO. The problem has been its pro-technology, pro-narrow science, elitist and tick-box mentality. If anything it is pro-“nannyism” because nanny knows best and this supertech, scientific nanny had no time for anything that didn’t fit her view of things. Hence, food sterility has been promoted under the guise of food safety, pesticide residues have been ignored and living foods almost totally banished.

So despite the proclamations of openness, the board meetings held in public, the consultations and the forums, real dialogue and communication was smothered by a pervasive we know best, patrician attitude. Smug Sir John, his cohorts and his successors, for the most part politely and courteously, did not listen to anyone else.

This is best exemplified by the FSA’s prejudicial attitude to both GM and organic food. Its determination to promote GM technology led, in recent weeks, to two resignations by independent advisers. Whilst, last year, its biased presentation of a report on organic food received widespread and justified criticism.

Of course the FSA has not been a complete failure. Many NGOs in the food and health fields argue that in some areas the FSA has had a positive impact.

Given the state of the food and health sector when it was formed, the nature of its original remit and the resources at its disposal, it had to get something right. After all, even a stopped watch gets things right twice in 24 hours.

The fact is, it could and should have done more. We desperately need a truly independent and truly effective Food Standards Agency. We don’t need a government annex pretending to be something it’s not. A government source is reported as saying “The functions of the FSA will be subsumed into the Department of Health and Defra”. I’m sure that this will save money and that it can be done seamlessly because there was little difference between them anyway.

It is hard to gauge the government’s true intentions. This is worrying but I’m sure abolishing the FSA has little to do with complaints by the food industry over “traffic light labelling proposals”. It is to do with saving money and reveals something of where the government’s priorities lie. The FSA became more of lapdog than a watchdog some time ago. Had it been otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to scrap it.

Lawrence Woodward O.B.E.
Whole Organic Plus
blog >

Food – the big fat lie

22 April, 2010

The ‘big fat lie’ of needing to double global food production by 2050 has dominated policy and media discussions of food and farming, making it increasingly difficult for advocates of sustainable farming methods, such as organic, to convince people we can actually feed the world without more damage to the environment and animal welfare.”
Peter Melchett – Soil Association policy director – 20 April 2010.


“Telling porkies: The big fat lie about doubling food production
More coverage on the Soil Association investigation launched yesterday which reveals that those claiming we need to double global food production are wrong about the figures, are wrong about what the figures apply to, and are wrong to claim that achieving these figures will mean we will feed the hungry or end starvation. Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, was interviewed on Farming Today alongside Peter Kendell president of the NFU.
Farming Today, BBC Radio 4, listen again (21 April, 00:23 seconds in)
Farmers Guardian (20 April)
Farmers Weekly (20 April) (20 April)
The Ecologist (20 April)
Read the Soil Association press release here (20 April)

GM crops – 1 Million Voices on Avaaz

15 April, 2010

Add your voice to the petition for independent research and a moratorium on GM crop development in Europe. A new initiative allows 1 million EU citizens to present legal requests to the European Commission.

With a forthcoming election, it’s a great time to cast your vote directly on future food and environmental policy. Every vote will count!

Together, let’s get 1 million citizen signatures – please send the following link to your friends, or post it on your Facebook wall:

GM crops – 1 Million Voices on Avaaz