I am obliged to respond to Sarah Juggins’ column, October 18, clearly aimed at my Nature Notes.
I would also like to reply to your readers John Marston and Geoff Hipperson (October 21). Thanks to both of you for showing interest. As far as Geoff is concerned, I clearly wrote “organochlorine” and not “organophosphates” as a general term and in particular mentioned DDT.
I am afraid Sarah rather misunderstood much of my offering on bees and neonicotinoids. Sarah writes of “tweed-wearing, Range Rover driving, EU grant-claiming, bee-killing monsters”. I certainly did not imply that all farmers are within this category. By and large I prefer the “gentle custodians of this green and pleasant land”. I recall an article in the Lynn News which reported that the Sandringham Estate received more that half a million pounds from the EU last year.
We read that “at least one in five of the top 100 recipients were businesses owned or controlled by members of aristocratic families.” Why am I not surprised?
So many of our difficulties arise from the issue of land ownership and land use. This simple concept proves difficult for so many of my fellow citizens to grasp. The simple fact is that wealth disparity within the agricultural community is a mirror of wider society. The fabulously rich grow fabulously richer, the very poor grow increasingly desperate.
Whether or not neonicotinoids are given the green light will depend upon the influence of “Big Pharma”, with its short-term aim of even greater profits and what we have come to know as “green resistance.” Dare I say “Big Pharma” versus small farmer? I am happy to leave it to empirical research which at the moment shrieks warnings about widespread use of neonicotinoids.
Of course, farmers do not consciously target bees. As Sarah’s footnote says, “why would we do that? Without bees there are no crops.” I wrote my report from Slovenia because I know that in Europe generally there is greater awareness of the issue.
Writing in the latest edition the RSPB’s “Nature’s Home”, Simon Barnes, commenting on species loss, reports that “We have lost more nature than the global average: we are now one of the most depleted countries in the world.”
This is crisis – and by far its biggest cause is farming.” I could easily write more but will leave it there for now, accepting that “the majority of people involved in farming, horticulture or artisan food production are very hard working for very little reward.” I am right behind this majority, they put food on my plate!
Malcolm Cox, Terrington St Clement