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Countryside Matters
Burning Issues 2002

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Farming Matters!
Facts and figures

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Countryside Matters!
'Food for
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2002

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2003

Abattoirs - Increased charges would lead to closures and longer journeys for animals - November 2002

Food Additives - are they good for us?

E-Numbers - links to listings

Genetically Modified Organisms Report - published by DEFRA - December 2002

Post Offices - Pension and Benefit Payments in cash after April 2003 - November 2002

Rail Network - Rural Proofing? - May 2002

Rural cash machines now threatened! - June 2002

Tourism needs brown road signs - August 2002

Burning Issues 2004 - Energy; GM crops

Burning Issues 2003 - 'Fuel Rules! - OK??' New rules on lending tractors and use of red diesel - March 2003

Burning Issues 2001 - Globalisation, the WTO, Foot and Mouth Crisis, Global Sourcing etc
Also articles from 2000 and archive access

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March 2002

Food Additives

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Farming Matters!
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'Food for
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Food Choice - Organic or Conventional?

There has recently been much heated ‘discussion’ in the farming press over the relative merits of organic v. conventional farm produce. While not wishing to take sides in the debate, there are other factors which neither side seem to have taken into account. Most of these factors are the outcome of methods used in storage and processing of food after it has left the farm where it was produced. I have great respect for those producing food to organic specification as well as for those who farm on ‘L.E.A.F.’ principles with minimum chemical input. However, with even a cursory glance down the list of ‘approved’ food additives in the way of artificial preservatives, flavourings and colourings, the reason for food ‘allergies’ and ‘intolerances’, so often blamed on food production, becomes obvious.

Having as a family experienced some food / health / digestion problems over the past few years here are some of the apparent culprits, none of them the fault of food producers.

Artificial Sweeteners:
Many products now carry a warning - ‘Caution, contains a source of phenylalanine’.
This is implicated in a variety of problems and may even create a craving for carbohydrates, thus negating any benefit in using a sweetener in place of sugar. My wife is convinced that omitting it from her diet has been of immeasurable benefit to her health.

Preservatives:
Again, a number of these are implicated in health problems. What is perfectly acceptable to one person may cause a reaction of varying severity in another. Not only that, but any one artificial chemical additive in combination with others can cause a reaction, where on their own they would be harmless. See the list of E - numbers.

Colours:
If you do buy sweets, drinks or food that contain artificial colours you do need to check the E - list as to possible problem additives!

Other problems
can be caused by simple things, like some of the raising agents now used in bread / pastry production. We have found that with care, the excessive use of indigestion tablets can be avoided! Again, check out the E - list.

We have found that the easiest way to avoid problem additives is to buy clearly labelled ‘Organic’ food where they are not allowed! This is not a criticism of conventional farmers! It is a criticism of the additives ‘pushed’ by some big businesses and incorporated into basic foodstuffs for various reasons - usually to improve shelf life.

The amount of extra money spent on organic produce is more than compensated for by an improvement in family health. The only other alternative is spending extra shopping time reading labels. We have found that even some of the well known health food as well as drink manufacturers are among the chief culprits in the use of artificial sweeteners. Low calorie and low fat products also need careful checking.

To conclude: Do not automatically blame the farmer for your dietary health problems! Place the blame squarely where it belongs. Most are caused, not by pesticide / insecticide / fungicide contamination (although these do happen) but by the deliberate use of artificial additives by food processors.

T.W.B. March 2002

Food additives 2005
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March 2002

E-Numbers

The following links are to sites which either list the various e-numbers or list a variety of numbers with comments about them. If you wish to discover more about a particular additive then type its number plus its name into a search engine and define the search area if you wish.

(E.g. 'E-***+chemical name' and choose 'search UK')

The inclusion of any site on this list is to start your search and is not necessarily an endorsement of its contents.

Earthways e-numbers listings A list of numbers with comments about them.

Additives are they good for us?
See also Food for Thought 2002

December 2002

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Farming Matters!

Genetically Modified Organisms Research Report

This report on research carried out from 1994-1997 and 1997-2000 was published on the Web at 10.00 p.m.on Christmas Eve. The timing (a good time to bury bad news?) and the fact that it was done ‘by a technician clearing his desk before the holiday’ (since when do ‘technicians’ have authority to publish reports?) led me to immediately search for, and read the information available.

The summary can be found at  www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/research/epg-1-5-84.htm on which page there is also a link to the full report. However it can only be read online and cannot be saved onto computer.


Key pages of interest are 112 - 114 where ‘gene-flow’ into other species is discussed.

  • Page 112: ‘Extensive hybridisation was observed when oilseed rape and Brassica rapa (wild turnip or ‘Bargeman’s Cabbage’) grew together in fields. Hybrids were fertile although seed production was low’
  • Pages 113 - 114: ‘There are weedy populations of B. rapa co-existing and hybridising with oilseed rape in England. It is likely that these populations will readily aquire genes from oilseed rape particularly if they enhance the survival or fitness characteristics of B. rapa growing as a weed in oilseed rape crops.’

And, commenting on the need for more information -

    ‘Gene flow should be investigated on a landscape scale using larger numbers of transgenic pollen sources . . .

There are a number of concerns to be raised:

  • 1) Why was ‘gene transfer’ not found in the first years of the research? (1994-1997). Was it that different varieties of G.M. rape were used? Was it that these line of research was not included? There must be a reason and it should be found as it may well affect present as well as future research.
  • 2) Are the Government seriously considering trials ‘on a landscape scale using larger numbers of transgenic pollen sources’ ? Surely this will lead to widespread contamination of wild plants and have possible unforseen consequences for the environment.
  • 3) If it takes 2 years to produce a report and release of genetic material is still taking place, irrevocable damage will have been done before any assessment can be made. Why not stop all trials NOW and assess them before going any further?

A quote from the Government:-

    The Government is neither pro nor anti GM crops. It recognises that they have both potential risks and benefits. Its first priority is to protect human health and the environment, and it will not approve GM crops releases if there is any serious doubt about their safety. The Government is also pro consumer choice and the need to be guided by sound science.

Really???

T. Brighton: - December 2002

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