Blog Archives

Taxpayers unwittingly fund GM trials as the prospect of leaving wiser European counsellors looms

Will agri-business be allowed to charge ahead, imposing genetically modified food on an unwilling public?  

This is Rothamsted research centre, one of the country’s largest agricultural research stations.

The work is publicly funded through a £696,000 grant from the government’s UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and $294,000 from the US Department of Agriculture. Other partners include the universities of Lancaster and Illinois.





Corporate/political interests threatened by the public support for Corbyn’s caring policies

The corporate world continues to make vitriolic but insubstantial attacks on the Labour Party leader, whose approach threatens their unreasonably affluent lifestyles.

corbyn a threat graphic

Brief reference will be made to arms traders, big pharma, construction giants, energy companies owned by foreign governments, food speculators, the private ill-health industry and a range of polluting interests. One reflection on each sector will be given here – of many recorded on our database:

Arms trade

Steve Beauchampé: “A peacenik may lay down with some unsavoury characters. Better that than selling them weapons”. The media highlights Corbyn’s handshakes and meetings, but not recent British governments’ collusion in repressive activities, issuing permits to supply weapons to dictators. In the 80s, when lobbying Conservative MP John Taylor about such arms exports, he said to the writer, word for word: “If we don’t do it, someone else will”. Meaning if we don’t help other countries to attack their citizens, others will. How low can we sink!

Big pharma

Theresa drew attention to an article highlighting the fact that the Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA), a lobbying company working for some of the world’s biggest drugs and medical equipment firms, had written the draft report for NHS England, a government quango. At the time, the latest attempt at mass-medication – this time with statins – was in the news. The world’s largest manufacturer of low-cost vaccines said that British taxpayers are paying for excessive profits earned by big Western drugs companies.


Most construction entries relate to the PFI debacle, but in 2009 it was reported that more than 100 construction companies – including Balfour Beatty, Kier Group and Carillion – had been involved in a price-fixing conspiracy and had to compensate local authority victims who had been excluded from billions of pounds of public works contracts. The Office of Fair Trading imposed £130m of fines on 103 companies. Price-fixing that had left the public and councils to “pick up the tab”.


The Office of Fair Trading was closed before it could update its little publicised 2010 report which recorded that 40% of infrastructure assets in the energy, water, transport, and communication sectors are already owned by foreign investors. In Utility Week News, barrister Roger Barnard, former head of regulatory law at EDF Energy, wondered whether any government is able to safeguard the nation’s energy security interests against the potential for political intervention under a commercial guise. He added: “Despite what the regulators say, ownership matters”.


A Lancashire farmer believes that supermarkets – powerful lobbyists and valued party funders – are driving out production of staple British food and compromising food security. She sees big business making fortunes from feeding the wealthy in distant foreign countries where the poor and the environment are exploited, also putting at risk the livelihoods of hard working British farmers and their families. Large businesses are gradually asset-stripping everything of value from our communities to make profits which are then invested abroad in places like China and Thailand. She ends, “They do this simply because they have the power to do so”.


Government does not act on this, appearing to prioritise the interests of the corporate world. The influential transport lobby prevents or delays action to address air  pollutants such as ground-level ozone and particulates emitted by cars, lorries and rail engines which contribute directly to global warming, linked to climate change. Last November a report found that waste incineration facilities and cement plants across Europe, had seriously breached emission limits. Intensive agriculture’s lavish use of insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers has also released harmful chemicals into the air, in some cases causing water pollution. Manufacturing industries and petroleum refineries produce carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds and chemicals which pollute the air. Children in areas exposed to air pollutants commonly suffer from pneumonia and asthma. The burden of particulate air pollution in the UK in 2008 was estimated to cause nearly 29,000 deaths. DEFRA’s report for 2013, however, does not refer to health impacts, though admitting serious levels of air pollution.

Some features of the corporate-political nexus summarised: victimised whistleblowers, media collusion, rewards for failure and the revolving door

  • Rewards for failure cover individual cases, most recently Lin Homer, and corporate instances. Capita, according to a leaked report by research company Gartner was two years behind schedule with its MoD online recruitment computer system – yet the government contracted to pay the company £1bn over 10 years to hire 9,000 soldiers a year for the army.
  • The 74th instance of the revolving door related to Andrew Lansley’s move from his position as government health minister to the private health sector. An investigation by the Mail found that one in three civil servants who took up lucrative private sector jobs was working in the Ministry of Defence. Paul Gosling gives a detailed list of those passing from government to the accountancy industry and vice versa.

As Steve Beauchampé reports (link to follow), there is a coterie of arch-Blairite, anti-Corbyn Labour MPs who never accepted the decisive democratic mandate Corbyn secured last autumn:

JC large rally

“Mann’s very public intervention can be interpreted as a calculated move to undermine the party’s electoral chances this Thursday . . .

“Realising that they have at best 4-5 months to try to oust him before reforms anticipated at this September’s party conference transfer crucial powers from the party hierarchy into the hands of members, the forthcoming elections will be used by Corbyn’s adversaries as an excuse to try and replace him”.

Will increasingly media-sceptical people – who support Corbyn because they seek the common good – hold firm?



Britain’s food security: dairy farmer sets out concerns for minister

As Northern Ireland farmers combine to continue their cross-party diplomacy MP Nigel Evans has been contacted by his constituent, a Lancashire dairy farmer.

richard arkless SNPThe message opens by referring to a question by Richard Arkless (SNP Dumfries & Galloway) on the 29th January to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, asking what steps the Government is taking to support milk producers in ensuring milk prices in supermarkets are maintained.

George Eustice (minister for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment) responded that the government is supporting the farming industry by reducing red tape. The farmer corrects this answer:

“This is untrue in the case of dairy farmers whose financial risk and responsibility is great and whose product is highly perishable”.

“In fact, dairy farmers are increasingly being required to spend precious time producing statistical information of little worth other than to help meet the targets of individuals within large and powerful organisations whose employment is indirectly funded by taxpayers or by compulsory levy imposed upon producers”.

The minister referred to a £26.6m aid package for the UK from the EU – a one-off, flat rate payment linked to milk production – administered by DEFRA’s Regional Payments Agency.

richard arkless RPA computerDid it arrive? FG Insight reports that once again,Thousands of farmers across the UK are suffering frustrating and, in some cases, crippling waits for their new Basic Payments as administrations to struggle with the new scheme.”. A Freedom of Information request reveals that nearly 8,927 farmers have been placed in the late payment tranche alongside 4,722 commons farmers, 379 cross-border claims and 342 with ’multiple issues’. It revealed that the assessment about these payments had been made back in August. Computer Weekly confirms that – after successive software releases failed to resolve problems – a £154m system to process claims for EU subsidy payments to farmers hit problems has forced applicants to resort to paper forms.

Our farming correspondent points out that the RPA will be fined by the EU for this delay at British taxpayers expense, if deadlines are not met.

Describing the ‘solutions’ offered by industry advisers and financial institutions, encouraging farmers to increase borrowings, expand herd sizes and increase production, it is feared that these will “intensify an already precarious situation, as efficient non-aligned British dairy farmers struggle to meet ordinary running costs let alone make essential reinvestments”.

The Lancashire dairy farmer ends, “For dairy farmers, real progress and growth does not come from individual enterprises ruthlessly undercutting and competing with each other to counter inappropriate commercial or government interference, but by ebbing and flowing with the tide and doing what is best in their own district for their own farm, their own family, their own animals and their own environment, with the resources available, as an integral part of the wider rural community”.



Owen Paterson-fronted GM onslaught: defanged by leaked encyclical?

owen paterson on return from chinaFormer Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson [right] once again trots out tired myths about the virtues of genetic modification of crops.

He is said to be assisted by his brother-in-law, Viscount Matt Ridley, a genetic scientist who is a visiting professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York which has received funding from Monsanto and Novartis. His long-term support for the technology, first highlighted in a ‘civilian’ September 2012 speech at the Rothamsted Research facility, inviting GMO innovators to take root in the UK, was followed by his DEFRA appointment.

monsanto logo (3)Monsanto (renamed in Windscale damage limitation mode) plans a British HQ for its new company – if it can acquire Syngenta.

Minister Paterson, in partnership with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, financed by GM companies Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience, frequently lobbied the EU on the desirability of GM crops. Last April he refused a Freedom of Information Act request to supply details about meetings between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the GM industry trade body. He had to leave DEFRA, having extolled Britain’s shale gas reserves, ‘an unexpected and potentially huge windfall’, and mishandled the summer floods and badger culls.


He then set up a think tank UK2020. Millionaire-founded, it steers clear of direct funding from GM industries but vigorously promotes the technology at events such as last year’s South African agricultural biotechnology media conference, hosted by ISAAA which receives donations from both Monsanto and Bayer CropScience.

Murdoch’s Fox News: “the most anticipated and feared papal document in recent times”

Farming Weekly Online reports the thoughts of Pope Francis on GMOs and pesticides, voiced in the draft of this major environmental document. He has called for a “scientific and social debate” on genetically modified foods that considers all the information available. He highlighted “significant problems” with the technology that should not be minimised, such as the “development of oligopolies in the production of seeds” and a “concentration of productive land in the hands of the few” that leads to the “disappearance of small producers”.

Brian John commented: Religious leaders — of all faiths — have been very slow to enter this debate, partly because they have been put under intense diplomatic pressure by the GMO /agrichemical industries and by the US and other governments.

The GMO industry, and its acolytes, bang on all the time, quite cynically, about GMOs being needed to “feed the world” in a future full of uncertainties – nonsense of course.

The Pope’s intervention at this stage is of vast significance.


Milk, fruit and vegetables will eventually be imported, unless British food producers are fairly paid

milk farmers leaveThough 80% of all milk produced in the UK is consumed domestically, the NFU attributes the fall in price to the sanctions on Russia and weakening demand in Asia.

The FT reports that Asda also justified the low prices paid to farmers saying they were set by global supply and demand.


First Milk, the farmer-owned group, one of the UK’s biggest dairy co-operatives, has suspended payments to around 1,200 farmers for two weeks. The company said that returns had fallen 50% in the past year and yet – the FT reports – farm costs are 36% higher than they were in 2007 and the single largest cost component of a dairy farm, animal feed, is more than 50% higher.

milk price fall                      Sources: Defra, DARD & DairyCo

A table from an 2007 overview: Snapshot of farming in the UK, on the BBC website (below), will be of interest to readers news to the subject. Recent price cuts mean that farmers are facing milk prices of just 20p a litre, the lowest since 2007 according to the NFU said, but the following graph indicates an earlier date.

milk prices graphmilk prices graph addendumMilk is now cheaper than bottled water, according to research by The Grocer, which recorded four-pint bottles of milk being sold for 89p by supermarkets Asda, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland.

‘Fiddling while Rome burns’, DEFRA promotes involvement with the volatile global casino: “It is important to remember that the long-term prospects are bright with exports at record levels.”


Is there any future for those who produce perishable food and are currently held to ransom – unless they join forces and demand prices covering production costs?

Has science has become a dishonourable profession?



Colin Tudge writes:

I keep coming across the same phenomenon: scholars of all kinds, but especially scientists and economists, no longer seeking dispassionately after truth as they are generally understood to do, but using their talents and their education to defend the status quo – the prevailing economy and mode of government and the ideas that lie behind them, moral and otherwise.

They do this even though it is obvious to all thinking people that the status quo will not do. Indeed, there is an ever-mounting pile of government reports, paid for by us, proclaiming that we must change our ways – although “we” always means the populace at large; not, obviously, our leaders.

Yet those same reports, by various sleights of hand, invariably finish by recommending more of precisely what we have now — as in Sir John Beddington’s The Future of Food and Farming, 2011, which has become the urtext* of British agricultural strategy.

Scholars of a certain kind, especially those who seek to climb the greasy pole, see it as their role in life not to find out what is actually true, and still less to ask what is good for humanity and for the biosphere at large, but to promote the ideas and the interests of whoever has most power and/or pays their salary. Of course, it’s fine to be an advocate if you upfront about it, and wear a little wig to advertise your status. But the moral position of advocates who masquerade as seers and defenders of truth is highly dubious.

It is tempting to suppose that the scholar-qua-advocate is a new phenomenon: after all, academe now depends to a greater and greater extent on grants from corporates, who now drive the world’s economy, and hold the whip hand over governments. So scholars who aspire to the greatest wealth and positions of influence are more or less bound to support the neoliberal economy in which the corporates flourish. But actually it isn’t new. Monarchs and their equivalents have always employed intellectuals to help to justify their actions. So it is in Shakespeare’s Henry V Act I Scene II, where the Archbishop of Canterbury proves at least to his own satisfaction and with reams of gobbledegook that Henry has a perfect right and indeed a duty to invade France.

So it was too that towards the end of the 19th century (1879) the American economist Henry George wrote Progress and Poverty, in which he explained how private ownership of land, and the accumulation of vast wealth without the need to work simply by owning land in the right places, explains why poverty increases while societies as a whole grow richer. Rich societies over time tend to become less and less egalitarian as the wealthy use their wealth to become even wealthier – so that, paradoxically, the increasing wealth of societies causes poverty to increase.

We have seen this phenomenon writ large in Britain over the past 30 years. Once this is pointed out, it seems blindingly obvious. In the late 19th and early 20th century it was obvious too to intellectuals and politicians the world over, who hailed Henry George as the saviour of civilization, as indeed he might have been. But his ideas threatened the hierarchy. They required the very rich to become less rich, and to work for a living. Other intellectuals and politicians then rallied to the cause of the ruling caste and systematically side-lined George’s teaching until he was air-brushed out of history even more effectively than Stalin suppressed the memory of Leon Trotsky.

Nowadays, such air-brushing is clear to see. So, for example, scientists too eminent to ignore who dare to question the wisdom of GMOs, on whatever grounds, are actively done down. Other scientists appear mysteriously out of the woodwork not simply to deride the mavericks but also to question their general competence as scientists.

I have witnessed this taking place, not least at a recent meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology at the House of Lords, where Gilles-Eric Seralini presented work showing that rats fed on herbicide resistant GM-maize and the herbicide itself developed more cancers over a two-year period than those fed on conventional fare.

At the APPG meeting, scientific critics who professed to be “independent” (though in truth, financially independent scientists are a very rare breed) questioned Seralini’s statistics in coruscating detail. Everyone who knows anything about statistics knows that such cavilling is always possible. We can always argue, for example, about the appropriateness of a particular algorithm of statistical analysis in particular cases. The cavils by themselves mean nothing. The point is simply to repeat the work and/or apply different analyses, and so and so on.

The Hungarian philosopher of science Imre Lakatos pointed out too that new ideas in science are extremely delicate – they don’t have a huge weight of data behind them precisely because they are new; and so, like seedlings, they must be treated tenderly. But when mavericks like Seralini come on the scene the critics turn out in force not in a spirit of humble inquiry but to put the boot in, to stamp out the heresies before they even have a chance to see the light of day, while seeking to blind lookers-on with esoteric maths, reminiscent of the late archbishop’s appeal to Salic Law. It is a most unedifying spectacle. But it is the norm.

The most recent example to come my way was at the August meeting of the Savory Institute in London. It was on what Allan Savory calls Holistic Management, which in large part means the management of grassland and of the herbivores that graze on them in ways that steadily increase the carbon content of the soil. His techniques have been tried the world over – in North and South America; Africa (Savory himself is Zimbabwean); Australia; and China. The results have been extraordinary – the barren uplands of Ethiopia and the crumbling, bare, loess hills of China, transformed within a few years into lush savannah, without irrigation and all the problems it brings; indeed without civil engineering of any kind except some terracing. Contrariwise, farmers in the US whose land habitually flooded have found that if they manage the higher ground as Savory recommends, the floods no longer occur.

With Britain already caught up in an escalating cycle of flood and drought (almost certainly related to global warming despite the deniers) it seems obvious that Defra and BBSRC ought, if they are truly to justify their support from the public purse, to be taking such ideas very seriously indeed. Overall we ought to be taking water as seriously as the Dutch have done since the Middle Ages and the Arabs did in Mediaeval Spain. But David Cameron’s great contribution during the floods of a few months ago was to promise unlimited sand-bags (until they run out) and, very properly, to praise the heroic efforts of the rescue services, including the army. Since then we have more discussion on the cost of drains and sea-walls and the rest but no discussion at all as far as I can see on possible changes in agricultural practice – even though there is abundant evidence worldwide and through all of history, and not simply from the Savory Institute, that agricultural practice is key to water management.

In short, with 10,000 years of agricultural experience behind us and all the fabulous resources of modern science, we are repeating the mistakes of all the civilizations of the past that brought out their own demise through lack of land management. Yet all the government has to offer is more of the same, while the upper echelons of academe continue to defend the corporate-government coalition that runs the world, with appeals to market forces to make us richer so we can eventually build more drains and sea-defences.

It won’t do. Intellectuals who seem content to be advocates should, as they say in Yorkshire, think on. People at large should be very angry – much angrier than they seem to be at the sheer awfulness of present day governance and the complaisance of academe. Above all, though, we must take matters into our own hands. We must bring about the Renaissance despite the powers that be. It’s sad that this should be the case, but it is.

Colin Tudge, Wolvercote, August 4 2014.


*An original or the earliest version of a text, to which later versions can be compared.


Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude: calamitous errors of judgment – minor and major

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who sees himself as a ‘moderniser’, lauding the government’s IT prowess, has faced several less-than-creditable charges according to his Wikileaks entry. After recruiting Tony Caplin, who recently resigned as head of the Treasury’s Public Works Loans Board, Maude has made a far more serious mistake.

Despite David Cameron’s Davos commitment to ‘reshoring’ British jobs, Francis Maude has appointed an offshore and outsourcing expert, Peter Swann, to supervise the export of jobs of civil servants who provide back-up facilities such as pay roll and contract details to Whitehall offices.

David Hencke records in the Tribune that these jobs handling sensitive personal pay roll details, and possibly criminal and police records, are to be moved offshore by private companies under a Cabinet Office initiative to save money.

A rising star

steria logoUnder Swann’s leadership, Steria, a French international company with a presence in India, has a joint venture with the Cabinet Office: Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) – its slogan: ‘a Trusted Transformation partner’.

The latest news on Steria’s website is that the Council of the European Union’s General Secretariat has chosen the company to secure its internal communications networks.

SSCL has already taken over back offices across the country for the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Environment Agency. It is now looking at taking over work at the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office.

steria values

Within a year, it started a closure programme of sites affecting more than 500 jobs in Sheffield, Cardiff, Newport and Leeds and is looking to relocate the work to India. Other centres such as Blackpool, Newcastle, Peterborough and York will also lose staff.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said: “It will be a major blow for local economies losing hundreds more jobs . . . The Government should act now to keep these jobs in the UK, rather than attempt to cynically exploit the inferior pay and employment conditions that workers abroad face.”

Government and corporates: time to introduce country-of-origin food labelling to avoid another health scare


Australian grownA Lancashire farmer has drawn our attention to the call by Farmers for Action (FFA) for major UK retailers to introduce ‘honest’ country of origin labelling as they seek to regain consumer trust in the wake of the horse meat scandal. She asks that this information be added to butter labels as well. Australia does it – see the logo.

In view of the recent horse meat scandal, FFA Chairman David Handley is calling on all CEOs of the retail industry to clearly show country of origin on all purchased cheese.

On Radio West Midlands this Thursday, Food Standards Agency head, Jeff Rooker, personally supported honest labelling, but told interviewer Adrian Goldberg that this issue had been taken out of their hands and was now a matter for DEFRA.

imported cheese cell count levels should meet the standards asked of British farmers

Alistair Driver in the Farmers Guardian adds: 

“Mr Handley claimed ‘double standards’ were at play as imported cheese often does not meet the standards asked of British farmers, for example, when it comes to requirements on cell count levels which measure milk quality and bacteria levels . . .

“A Morrisons spokesperson said: “All Morrisons-branded block cheeses are made using milk sourced from British farmers and carry the Red Tractor logo to help customers buy British.”

FFA continues:

“The cheese market at the moment is in complete disarray. Cheese is being sucked in from all over the world and the consumer has no knowledge of its origin, or its production methods and for that reason it is imperative that country of origin is clearly shown on all these products.

“A large amount of cheese that is coming into the UK currently being sold under supermarket own brand is not matching the standards required by British dairy farmers but yet is being used as a tool to drive down British milk prices.

“This has to change and if retailers mean what they say, following the latest food scandal, they should address this with utmost urgency.” 


Bad decisions on organophosphates – 28: why doesn’t government act on reports by DEFRA, the Lancet and toxicology research, 1999-2012?

Has the state exposed sheep farmers and soldiers to OP poisoning?

Dr Virginia Harrison (Open University), co-author of the most recent UK study (cover opposite) on the subject very briefly summarised the problem a few days ago; a number of occupational groups have expressed concern that their health has been affected by exposure to organophosphates, including sheep farmers, who between 1988 and 1991 were required by government to dip sheep yearly in pesticide formulations containing OPs. Between 1985 and 1998 more than 600 reports of ill health following exposure to sheep dip were received by a government adverse reaction surveillance scheme.

Despite this, the government appears to have ignored research findings ranging over the last fifteen years, including:
July 1999

The Lancet : Volume 354, Number 9173, 10 July 1999 85-172, page 133   Prolonged, low-dose exposure to organophosphorus sheep dips is linked with chronic ill-health—the most risky occupational activity seems to be handling of concentrated pesticide. These are the main findings of a report published by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM; Edinburgh, UK).

December 2004

The Lancet Neurology, Volume 3, Issue 12, Page 702, December 2004. A top-level US advisory Panel has reported that the neurological symptoms associated with Gulf War syndrome are probably caused by low-level exposure to various toxins that soldiers were exposed to during the war in 1991. The findings of the Panel, which was appointed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2002, support those of an ongoing series of reviews undertaken by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

August 2008

The finding of one of these reviews – well worth reading – was that evidence strongly and consistently indicates that one of the Gulf War neurotoxic exposures causally associated with Gulf War illness was pesticide use during deployment. Evidence includes the consistent association of Gulf War illness with pesticides across studies of Gulf War veterans, identified dose-response effects, and research findings in other populations.

May 2009

Research published by DEFRA revealed the extent to which even low level exposure to organophosphate (OP) sheep dip appears to have caused health problems in farmers. An extensive study involving 132 farm workers with a history of using OPs before 1991 found they are suffering today from a range of physical, mental and emotional problems.  Dr Mackenzie-Ross, of University College London, said “Defra’s advice should stress OPs should be a last resort and that other chemicals can be used.”

Defra appeared to dismiss its findings, commenting: “The results of this report do not definitively demonstrate organophosphates cause chronic ill-health, but suggest that a relationship may exist.” It ruled out using taxpayers’ money to compensate victims ‘when the current independent advice is that a link between long-term, low-level OP exposure and ill health has not been proven’.

March 2012: VMD and OGOP – not a dynamic duo:

An update from the government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate, informed the Official Group on Organophosphates that the VMD awaits new residues data from the manufacturer of Osmond’s Goldfleece. The last update from the manufacturer suggests that their report may be ready by April 2012. The VMD reminded OGOP that the change was separate from the issue of whether the use of OPs was linked to ill-health in humans. ACTION: OGOP Secretariat to arrange the next meeting for October 2012 if the OP review was completed. Searches show no sign that the review has been completed or an October meeting held.

December 2012

Earlier this month the farming press reported that a systematic review of the literature carried out by researchers at UCL, in London and the Open University, with the same lead author, found that low exposure to the chemicals damages ‘neurological and cognitive function’. The research was published in the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology.

Powerbase reports that some prominent European Food Safety Authority regulators have conflicts of interest, holding positions in organisations that are funded by the same companies whose products they are supposed to regulate – pesticides, genetically modified (GM) foods, and food contaminants.

This report shows that over a period of many years, influential EFSA managers and regulators have been heavily involved with a US-based organisation called the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), which is funded by multinational pesticide, chemical, GM seed,and food companies. The independence of EFSA’s risk assessment processes on pesticides and food safety has been seriously compromised by its close involvement with industry, chiefly represented by ILSI.

Is our government also closely involved with industry as we so often report?
Are they also bowing to the industry’s interests at the expense of many, including farmers, soldiers and pilots?


Javelin Park 2: Gloucestershire County Council’s PFI incinerator deal with Urbaser Balfour Beatty: case officer removed & consultants brought in


PCU has recorded Gloucestershire County Council’s desire to build a £500 million Urbaser Balfour Beatty Energy from Waste incinerator at Javelin Park in Haresfield. It is reported that 103 incinerator sites were licensed in 2010, that in 2011 DEFRA had 20 more applications from large power companies and that a large number of government advisers are involved in the expensive and remunerative incinerator PFI deals.

Highlighting growing concerns that there will be too many incinerators in the UK by 2015 and that they will severely hamper recycling, Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood tabled Early Day Motion 383, . . . to read on click here.

Opposition to this plan by residents, opposition groups and local authorities has been well documented in the Stroud News & Journal by journalist Chris Warne.

Update: the council removes the case officer from the Javelin Park application and brings in a team of consultants – at taxpayers’ expense

GCG says that this – done without informing a lead member of its planning committee – is perfectly normal practice, but the SNJ’s editorial comment is: “There is a school of management that keeps on asking the same question until the right answer appears”.

Geoff Wheeler, the leader of Stroud District Council, has now instructed officers to write to Eric Pickles at the Department for Communities and Local Government, asking him to ‘call in’ the plans as he did with the Kings Lynn incinerator application in August.

GCG’s Lib-Dems, supported by the Labour Group, have separately called in the bid for extra scrutiny but the County Council hopes to determine the application in the New Year.

SouthWest Business reported last Friday that planning experts at Stroud District Council have warned that the £500million scheme to build a waste-to-energy plant at Javelin Park, supported by Gloucestershire County Council and incinerator firm Urbaser Balfour Beatty, could be thrown out by a Government inspector because of the impact it could have on the environment.

Irregularities in procedure

Stroud’s Councillor Marjoram points out irregularities in procedure: the council selected a contractor for the construction before planning permission had been granted, signing a contract with a penalty clause which will charge them £15 million if they renege on the agreement or don’t get planning permission.

Apply the precautionary principle

Ian Richens, spokesman for the campaigning group GlosVAIN, grimly reminds all that in the 1970s asbestos was similarly presented as posing no danger to health and adds:

“Let us not make the same mistake again”.#



United Kingdom Without Incineration Network

UKWIN has nearly 100 groups campaigning for sustainable waste management and against waste incineration. They say that the incineration of household waste:

  • depresses recycling and wastes resources,
  • releases greenhouse gases, and is
  • often forced through against strong public opposition.
  • create toxic emissions and hazardous ash, and therefore pose significant health risks.

Electoral reaction: in Kings Lynn, Labour’s Alex Kempe won a county council seat from the Conservatives.  Their majority of 272 at the last election was transformed into a 400 majority for Labour.  Ms Kemp said that the issue of the proposed incinerator had a major bearing on the outcome. The County Council’s decision to award a contract for the construction of an incinerator has been ‘called in’ – there will be a full public inquiry in January 2013.