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The Other News From England.

5 Oct 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.


(this article carried over from last week). 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.


IT WOULD APPEAR THAT not only are a great many of our politicians ecological nitwits. We could probably survive that, but it turns out that at least in the transport area the civil servants - those who try to put the ideas of politicians into practice, and who advise them what their idea might be - are ecological nitwits too.

I am particularly interested int The Highways Agency this week.

The Highways Agency have sent me an `executive summary` of a plan called `A New Deal For Trunk Roads In Briatin`. In this document, amongst a large amount of twaddle about public consultation, measuring `standards`, and new objectives we can, if we don`t fall to sleep first, find (under `Protecting the Environment`) the following:

(we will) `operate a strong presumption against major new transport infrastructure which damages environmentally sensitive areas..............` `manage the trunkroad network to support the protection of species and habitats`........... I won`t go on, because to someone like you, who is environmentally conscious, the rest is obvious: 1. The enviornment is sensitive. All environment is sensitive. Just as there is no such thing as a `beneficial species` (and for similar reasons) so there is no such thing as environmental damage that does not matter. All environmental damage matters - it is at present just a question of whether it matters enough to an old man who will not be alive to reap the results of his foolhardiness for him to do something about it.

And the answer is probably: no, someone like that wouldn`t have the wit to know what you are talking about.

As to transport protecting species (like humans, for instance?) and habitats: how, exactly, can it be doing anything other than damaging them?

Unions and Work

(this article largely held over from last week)

I`m going to the industrial tribunal in Ashford once again today (as I told you last week) 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