Letter: Stop US food giants

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Frank Furedi (Review, 22 June) says that "consumer anger at unresponsive institutions is symptomatic of a pervasive sense of powerlessness".

He is right to say that the public in the UK, indeed in many countries, is displaying "an unprecedented level of political apathy" and that this coincides with what he describes as "displays of consumer activism". But he's wrong to suggest that these are signs of a decline in social engagement, and wrong to dismiss those involved as either "powerless" or mere "consumers".

The Reagan/Thatcher years shifted power from politicians to business. People aren't stupid. If power shifts from one set of institutions (democratically controlled parliaments and governments) to another set of powerful organisations (companies), people will shift the focus of where they express their concerns as active citizens.

With the shift in power to corporations comes the responsibility that goes with power, and the phenomenon that Frank Furedi describes is people just beginning, successfully, to hold corporations responsible.

Citizens in Europe, and increasingly in many other countries, are saying clearly that they don't want products of genetic engineering and, in the absence of any democratically accountable institution which can take action, people are demanding that action be taken by those they buy these products from, namely supermarkets.

PETER MELCHETT

Executive Director, Greenpeace

London N1

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