Readers' letters - March 5

US threat to food safety and welfare

Friday, 9th March 2018, 1:00 pm
Updated Friday, 9th March 2018, 2:05 pm
A correspondent is concerned about what they see as a threat to food safety and welfare

It should come as no surprise that right-wing Brextremists and the US dairy industry are conspiring together to weaken food safety and environmental standards post-Brexit.

Lower quality American milk and dairy products from cows with udder infections could be forced on British consumers, if the US industrialised mega-farm dairy industry get their way.

Meanwhile, a coalition of conservative think tanks, pushing for a free trade agreement which adopts weaker US standards, could result in chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared beef finding their way on to our menus.

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For many right-wing Conservatives, Brexit has always been about tearing up EU standards on food safety, environmental protection and animal welfare, under the guise of freeing the UK from ‘red tape’.

Which is why farmers are right to be sceptical of Michael Gove’s pledges on retaining high food, environmental and animal welfare standards.

Any trade agreement with the US, which allows for the import of food and drugs produced without current EU standards and protections, will threaten the viability of our small-scale farmers and food producers. They simply could not compete with the mega-farms and giant corporations of the US.

As the risks of a Tory Brexit become ever more apparent, Greens are stepping up our demand for a final say – a referendum on the deal between the UK and EU, with the option to retain all the protections that membership of the EU offers.

Molly Scott Cato MEP

Agriculture Committee European Parliament Brussels


Snow shows gas importance

The second gas supply crunch in as many months this winter serves to highlight how vulnerable we are to outages as a result of a lack of storage and too much reliance on imports.

As the Beast from the East delivers snow and freezing conditions, people with central heating are instinctively reaching for the thermostat, turning it up to keep warm.

This is pushing up demand and means there’s less available to make electricity.

Because it’s not possible to make the wind blow harder or the sun shine brighter (or at night) so that renewables can come to the rescue, the only answer has been to burn more coal.

In 2016, just nine per cent of our power came from coal. Overnight on Wednesday, February 28, it was over 25 per cent.

It’s bitterly cold across the whole of Europe too, from where we import a lot of our gas, so demand is also high there and that’s led to lower than normal flows to the UK.

And all this at a time when we have virtually no gas in storage. Gas prices have spiked to a level not seen for 12 years.

Here in Lancashire we might have two parts of the answer: shale gas on the Fylde and the future prospect of gas storage under Wyre.

Both of these projects have been delayed by objections through the planning process, but it’s clear to me that we need to urgently now get on with them both as we also continue striving to obtain gas from renewable sources – like biogas from farm slurry and even landfill methane.

I can’t imagine there are many residents who would be happy if there wasn’t enough gas to run their central heating when it’s snowing outside and temperatures have plunged as they have this week. It’s time we all put aside our natural instinct to oppose any new development where we live and accept that our way of life and home comforts actually depend on it.

Phil McVan

Independent energy consultant


Flaw in electric vehicle plan

Passengers stuck in their petrol/diesel vehicles try to keep warm and safe using their engines and these engines can eventually be topped up using a fuel can in most cases.

The passengers in electric-only vehicles will rapidly deplete battery life, have no heating, lighting or wipers and the vehicle will become an obstruction until it can be towed away and charged somewhere. The tailback, caused by just a few electric vehicles, could be miles long. This is a major flaw in the Government’s quest to get us to change to battery power – we cannot control the weather!

Mike Marlow

via email


We’re looking for our cousins

We are trying to find our long lost cousins Roy and Ernie Wilson. Roy was married to Marie. He played guitar and Marie was a beautiful singer.

I can’t remember Ernie’s wife’s name but they had children. They lived in Darwen last time we saw them, which was probably in the late 1960s or early 70s.

The parents of Roy and Ernie were Lucy and Ernie. I remember they worked in a wallpaper factory. I’ve traced some cousins but it would be good to hear from these two. Any help would be gratefully received. Contact: [email protected]

Kathleen Lee

Sheila Glew

(nee Wilson)