IoS letters, emails & online postings (31 July 2011)

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Donating to crisis appeals such as your Give a Day's Pay appeal for Somalia is extremely important, and saves lives.

Indeed, donors' contributions are needed more than ever because their money will only buy half as much food as it did 10 years ago: the World Food Programme paid $390 per tonne of food last year, compared with $200 in 2001.

Food prices have soared in the past decade, driven through speculation by investment banks like Goldman Sachs. Around $100bn has poured into agricultural markets over the past 10 years, as financial players have looked for new areas to place their money, without a penny of this going to actual improvements in agriculture.

The US has moved to limit the ability of financial players to speculate on food, and the EU is debating similar measures. But the British Government is set to block European regulation. The crisis in East Africa should provide sufficient evidence to impel the Government to support the proposals, and ensure that financial gambling no longer puts lives at risk. Readers can help exert pressure by writing to the Treasury.

Deborah Doane

Director, World Development Movement

You reported that "Anders Behring Breivik 'wants to explain himself'" ("A nation's enemy within...", 24 July). I don't think we have anything to learn from someone whose response to teenagers pleading for their lives was to shoot them in cold blood. He can teach us nothing new that we have not already witnessed from the Nuremberg trials to the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague; from the Nazi concentration camps, through the Rwanda genocide to Srebrenica. He has confessed to mass murder. That should be all that needs to be put before the court before he is sentenced and incarcerated.

Peter Nielsen


My exposure to children's TV is driven by the tastes and demands of my 20-month-old twin daughters, but I have to disagree with my colleague Jo Swinson ("Children's television lacks female role models, says MP", 24 July). Nina (of Nina and the Neurons), Bella in The Tweenies, Dr Juno in Me Too!, or presenter Cerrie Burnell do not strike my daughters (or me) as socialising inequality, but represent part of a diverse range of female characters on CBeebies

Tom Greatrex MP

Blantyre, Lanarkshire

The widespread provision of affordable homes will not solve the problem of rural regeneration (Letters, 24 July). The real issue is the lack of rural employment and transport links. In my corner of West Oxfordshire, the nearest station is 40 minutes' drive away, and the main arterial road comes to a standstill for at least two hours every morning. There is little work in the district due to the centralisation of distribution, the lack of large employers, and the traffic bottlenecks. More housing will only worsen the problem.

One reason these picture-postcard villages fill up with holidaymakers and the retired is that they don't have to work locally or commute. If you wish to build houses, put them where the jobs are.

Roger Bellamy

Bampton, Oxon

Your anonymous pharmacist makes a good point – we all have very confused ideas about death and the quality of life (Letters, 24 July). I know of no one of my age – in my seventies – who is not on preventative medication. Some of us try very hard not to be prescribed drugs that actually make us feel worse. Some of us would be happy to have to hand the means of a peaceful quietus if the need arose, although, perversely, that is the one remedy doctors fear to provide. However, the last time I said lightheartedly to my doctor that I had had a good life and was not afraid of dying, he replied solemnly: "A stroke can be very disabling." That is why we all take the pills, resignedly. It is not death we fear, but disability and dependency.

Doraine Potts

Woodmancote, Cheltenham

The Independent on Sunday in its recent campaign in defence of allotments drew attention to their benefits in terms of nutrition, exercise, social interaction, energy conservation and the environment. But one reason that councils do not provide more plots is that, once an area of land is used for allotments, it can never be used for any other purpose without the permission of both the secretary of state and the National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners, whose remit is to preserve allotments.

What landowner in their right mind would agree to their land being used for allotments in perpetuity? Clearly this needs to be amended to allow landowners to make land available for 10 to 20 years at a time.

The current legislation that ensures that the number of allotments available doesn't go down also ensures that it doesn't go up.

Let us amend this crazy piece of legislation – and make sure all lawyers know that it has changed.

Richard Taylor

Bracknell, Berkshire

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