IoS letters, emails & online postings (2 June 2013)

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The Independent Online

Philip Hoare laments the decline in British wildlife, but the cause of this Armageddon is not cars running over squirrels or boys stamping on beetles ("Every creature's needless death diminishes us all", 26 May). Rather, it is our shopping habits and farming practices. Browse the rows of products containing palm oil and other problematic ingredients in your local supermarket; admire the chemically treated produce packed in miles of cellophane; and wonder at the customers with trolleys piled so high that you know that much of it will land in the rubbish bin.

Consumer demand dictates that we spray tanker-loads of chemicals and engage in hedge-free monoculture, and that we keep cattle in inhumane production units rather than turning them out on to fallow fields. Such practices destroy habitats and kill insects at the foot of many food chains. Moreover, bee death seriously threatens plant reproduction. It couldn't be more serious, but we Western consumers don't seem to draw the conclusions we should.

On top of explaining things to small boys, maybe Hoare should go into oversized supermarkets, take over the Tannoy and give the shoppers a few home truths.

Alan Mitcham

Cologne, Germany

Recalling her visit to the Faroe Islands, Juliet Rix did not mention a particularly barbaric annual event ("High drama in the North Atlantic", 26 May). In the "grind", pilot whales are lured into a bay by men in motor boats and stabbed to death. Children have a day off school to witness this vile carnage. The meat from these slaughtered whales is often left to rot. So far this year, 1,115 pilot whales have been slaughtered in the Faroes, the largest kill of any whale species in the world. Whole families and social groups are wiped out, depleting the species' gene pool and threatening genetic biodiversity.

Susan Smith


Crispin Black is astounded by Western governments' support for jihadism in Libya and Syria ("Did we learn so little about jihadism from 7/7...?", 26 May). That violent Islamist ideologies are inimical to the interests of Western elites is an assumption that too many commentators have bought into. The West has long appreciated what the religious right can deliver, in terms of control and social and economic conservatism. From the initial grooming of the al-Saud and Wahhabi dynasty as a bulwark against the Ottomans, to the creation of an international mujahideen (producing the Taliban and al-Qa'ida) as a bulwark against Communism, the West and Islamism have a long history of mutual interest. It is not just Libya and Syria that are the most recent manifestations of this; the intervention in Iraq was also designed to replace a secular dictator and a strong state with Islamist hegemony and a deeply damaged state. The occasional "blowback" affects only small people, be they London commuters, New York workers or Mumbai pedestrians.

Peter McKenna


In his report on the communal conflict in Burma, Peter Popham repeats the conventional view that "Muslims and Christians have been at each other's throats for 1,300 years" ("Killing with kindness...", 26 May). There is no historical basis for positing such a conflict. Until recently, in areas where both faiths were practised side by side, communities coexisted without conflict. As for the Crusades, so often cited as the example of Muslim/Christian religious enmity, no religious principle was involved; like all wars in the Levant over the millennia until today, they were fought for territory, as, it seems, is the conflict in Arakan.

Maurice Vassie

Deighton, York

Limiting GP visits would only increase the demands on A&E departments ("Cap on number of GP visits being considered by Tories", 26 May). But an A&E visit costs more than a GP visit and a cap would add to the very pressures on A&E that the Health Secretary has criticised.

Dr Mohsin Khan


Capping GP visits puts illness on a proper commercial footing. To take full advantage, we should be able to trade our visit allocations. So, if I have unused visits I could sell them to the highest bidder. And if I have been particularly unwell I can purchase additional visits. What a fine idea this is.

Ashley Herbert

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

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