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The Other News From England.

28 Sept 1998. We are currently redesigning The Other News From England, and when it is complete, you will be able to log on and click through to articles on a range of subjects. We hope also to include with each set of articles an index, and to have each week`s new articles on the front page before they are moved to their particular area. We are hoping this will in the long run save you time and allow us more flexible working arrangements.

However, there are lots of articles on many subjects in earlier issues (which can be seen by clicking below) and new articles attached hereto.

Index of earlier issues.

Gabriele Gad on alternative therapy.


GENETICALLY MODIFIED foods are a source of much anxiety to most of us, yet none of us have yet made a serious stand against them.

If next time you go into your local shop (even more so if you go to the supermarket) you read all the labels and refuse to buy anything that is not guaranteed to be free of genetically modified foodstuffs (or other GM things for that matter) then the manufacturers will be forced to label things appropriately and you will have a choice.

A strategy that struck me as being particularly good for supermarkets (and an easy one for gertting publicity) would be to go round and fill the trolley up with shopping, reading all the labels as you go, and then ask about each inadequately labelled item at the checkout, discarding into a basket those items that are not guaranteed to be free of GM contents.

You then buy the ones that are `clean` and walk out leaving the supermarket to put the other stuff back on the shelves.

Since this might well be about 98% of the trolley, we can be pretty sure that if we all did what I propose we would be putting considerable pressure on the supermarkets to come clean.

I would suggest the most effective way to do this would be to shop in large teams, the team members giving each other support in resisting the pressure to buy unknown goods. This would be more effective in other ways too - particularly in getting publicity and in the amount of extra work such a gesture would generate.

As far as I can see, there is nothing unlawful about deciding when you reach the checkout that, in the light of inadequate information about the product, you do not want it, and by leaving it to the shop side of the checkout you have definitely not stolen it. I imagine, however, that there might be an unlawfulness in deliberately disrupting - and therefore one would have to establish one`s credibility by actually buying the items deemed to be fit.

All you have to do is to form a small group to carry out the action (perhaps twenty shoppers) all in the same supermarket on the same day, and after a few goes we will be able to shop in reasonable confidence that we know which items contain GM stuff - particularly as we could sue if they misled us over this particular point.

I wonder if our suing would be about personal injury, and to what extent a judge (most of whom one would expect to be dolts when it came to something like this - indeed, why only this?) would accept that a person has a case in that the GM element might within that person`s lifetime be injurious to health.

Incidentally, the supermarket `Iceland` not very long ago was advertising that it didn`t carry any goods with GM contents. I would like to know if that is still the case.


THERE IS a footpath near my house where mushrooms once grew right in what is now called Central London (it was Surrey in my youth). I rode my bike along it the other day, and being the season I kept an eye out. Not many years ago I used to harvest a few horse-mushrooms for an evening meal most days, and I was surprised that there were none now, and that also there were no signs of any having been picked. They used to be in such abundance.

The path was a very old-established one and the mushrooms - always a sensitive species - had obviously been growing there for centuries. A couple of years or so ago the council had decided to pave the path (just in case anybody should imagine they are in the country, I suppose - one can`t have that), and in so doing they had been very thorough. They had made their concession to nature by leaving earth exposed, but being the council they could not resist digging it all up and turning it over whilst they were doing so.

The result is not just no mushrooms, but almost no anything. But I expect the mushrooms will eventually find their way through the heavy clay.

It shouldn`t take more than a couple of hundred years.

Unions and Work

I`m going to the industrial tribunal in Ashford once again on the 5th. October - with nobody to help me do it, and not much knowledge of the formalities of the business.

The college, in throwing out all the materials, breaking the machinery and `losing` a few tools, have made it impossible for me to continue my work other than at the lowest possible level - a thing I am not willing to do.

Add to that the fact that the caretakers harrass both my students and myself and the principal makes no guarantees about doing anything about it, thus making it completely impossible for me to continue, and I feel I can reasonably claim constructive dismissal.

You see, I got elected as a staff representative - by more votes than anyone else who stood - and part of my role I considered to be to ask questions whose answers might be of interest to those whom I represent. This meant that I asked such pertinent questions as whether the total adult education budget was adequate for the job in hand - interestingly not getting an entirely clear answer from the director of education.

I may have made another mistake. One of the employers` panel of representatives was a solicitor whose English was so vague that I was unable to understand what she was talking about. Thus I proposed something she had already proposed a few moments before me - without my ever having noticed. She looked a little set back and said `that`s what I was saying`, and I didn`t actually ask her why she didn`t say it in English but my response may well have been enough for that purpose. Thereafter the story was one of rapid decline, with no help from the principal or his hanger-on. The result was that although I offered to take classes in the new academic year I was only willing to do them if the college paid me enough time to make good the damage - about one and a half times the hours I worked last year, whilst still doing the same number of hours of classes and being guaranteed no further harrassment from the caretakers.

They declined my offer.

That`s all for this week folks