News

A handful of retired constituents delivering their local MP a petition might not sound the most terrifying of prospects, but it prompted one Tory politician to call for police protection.

Greens desert their champion Gore and flock to support rival Bradley

THE ENVIRONMENTAL group, Friends of the Earth, delivered a sharp blow to the presidential campaign of Al Gore, the United States Vice-President, yesterday by announcing that it would endorse his rival, Bill Bradley, for the White House. The decision will undermine Mr Gore's claim to be seen as the environmentalists' champion and so remove what his team had hoped would be one of his strongest suits.

Public asked for verdict on Stonehenge road debate open to public

MORE THAN a year after the Government announced its intentions for the management of Stonehenge, members of the public will be able to comment on the plans. A draft goes on show at Amesbury, Wiltshire, today and tomorrow and people will have until the end of October to give their opinions.

Right of Reply: The Friends of the Earth director replies to our description of their claim that Britain is bottom of the world league for wildlife protection as `cheerful nonsense'

"CHEERFUL NONSENSE" is how The Independent yesterday described our report concluding that Britain comes bottom of the international league for wildlife protection.

Leading article: Mr Blair must prove his commitment to the environment

ENVIRONMENTAL PRESSURE groups are beginning to get a bad name these days for the absurdity of some of their claims and the violence of some of their protests. But then, faced with a Government so resistant to calls to act on its environmental promises as this one, perhaps their exaggeration is understandable.

Letter: GM facts ignored

Sir: Don Staniford of Friends of the Earth writes that there are no organic salmon farms in the UK (letter, 3 August). There is, in fact, organic salmon farmed in the Orkney Islands and recently certified by the Soil Association.

GM technology to restore the lost elm

SCIENTISTS working on the genetic modification of trees believe they will soon have the technology to restore Britain's lost landscape, with the reintroduction of trees decimated by Dutch elm disease and a new breed of infection-resistant oaks.

Secretarial: I Work For: We're weird and wonderful and getting under your skin

ANNIE CARTER IS PA TO CHARLES SECRETT, DIRECTOR OF FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

M&S sells genetically modified Frankenpants

MARTINE McCUTCHEON wears them. So, at the opposite end of the fashion spectrum, does Lady Thatcher. But Marks & Spencer's knickers, which were roundly condemned last week by the firm's own shareholders for being unsexy, are indeed not what they seem. They are, in fact, "genetically modified".

Education Comment: Monsanto may or may not be greedy, but its managers won't destroy its own business by poisoning its customers

TWO YEARS ago I was asked to chair a working party for the Nuffield Council on Bioethics to look at the regulations governing introducing genetically modified food plants into Britain: the subject is only mildly interesting ethically as most issues that medicine and animal husbandry raise are not at stake. Plants don't have rights, and it's not easy to be cruel to them. There are interesting ethical puzzles about our relationship with the natural world, but they are too metaphysically complex to build public policy on.

Letter: Third Way to hell

Sir: It is good to see somebody of the scientific standing of Professor Trewavas debunk the so called benefits of "organics" (letter, 22 June). He could have added that "artificial" or "chemical" fertilisers have been used to supply basic plant nutrients on farms and gardens for well over 100 years.

Letter: Cut traffic menace

Sir: The World Health Organisation has published research showing that in Austria, Switzerland and France, 21,000 people die early every year as a result of air pollution. This is far more than the number killed in road accidents.

Blair fumes, but public backs Charles's stand against GM

The Prince of Wales has tapped into the mood of Middle England with his criticism of engineered foods

Letter: Biotech mess

Sir: First it was "the tyranny of pressure groups" like Friends of the Earth that the Prime Minister blamed for the public's overwhelming rejection of GM crops and foods. Now he thunders in Cabinet that it is all the fault of the media ("Blair blames GM hysteria on the press", 28 May).

Fury at GM foods advice

THE GOVERNMENT drew a storm of protest yesterday as it tried to reassure the public that genetically modified foods and crops were safe. Green campaigners, medical experts and consumer groups accused ministers of failing to answer vital questions amid chaos and confusion over their policy on the technology.

Flat Earth: Born to be dull

The recent launch in Denmark of Ford's "Born To be Wild" car ad - the one featuring Dennis Hopper driving a Ford Cougar side by side with his younger self on a Harley-Davidson in the film Easy Rider - incensed the local Friends of the Earth. They think it is a bad influence: not on young tearaways, but on the over-50s.
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