IoS letters, emails & online postings (4 January 2015)

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It was heartbreaking to read the findings of the Family Food report but heartening to see The Independent on Sunday give it such prominence ("Millions of Britons battle to feed themselves", 28 December).

Among the 492,000 people who used a food bank between April and September 2014 is the mum forced to give up breastfeeding after four weeks due to poor calorie intake or the dad who lost three stone having forgone meals for several weeks to ensure his two boys could eat.

The issue of malnutrition is very real to people with names, faces and painful stories of their own. I hope politicians from across the spectrum are willing to prioritise the reduction of food poverty in the run-up to and beyond the general election.

Ewan Gurr

Scotland network manager

The Trussell Trust, Dundee

I have a great deal of sympathy with Fiona Sturges regarding the difficulties and dilemmas one faces when giving up drink ("I'm just as merry without a drink, thank you" 28 December). I have been drinking since the age of 16. I am now in my late forties and am considering giving it up for a variety of reasons, health being the principal one.

It isn't until you contemplate such a radical course that you realise how deeply embedded alcohol is in our culture. It is particularly difficult when all your friends and most of your family drink. I aim to go alcohol-free for the whole of January and take it from there.

It is not my intention to lecture people and I am not on a moral crusade. However; it is your contemporaries and society that will now allow you to go quietly without interrogating you as if you were a terrorist suspect. Good luck to Fiona. You are going to need it !

Liam McParland

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

David Kuo's concerns about China's growth rate are exaggerated (Investment insider, 28 December). If it falls to 7.0 per cent from 7.5 per cent, the amount added to GDP will be slightly higher this year than last. We should not be too hooked on the idea that every year needs to show a bigger increase than the one before; that rapidly becomes impossible.

Harvey Cole

Winchester, Hampshire

DJ Taylor writes a thoughtful article on cultural standards ("Good taste? It's all a matter of timing..." 28 December) but he omits any discussion of language. It is a curious anomaly that society today is censorious towards sexist language and yet it tolerates the parading on television and radio of coarse and even obscene language much of which is sexist. The worst culprits are usually so-called comedians whose delight in obscenity takes the place of genuine humour.

Those who control the media and who licence this decline are terrified of being labelled prudes whereas, in fact, to make a stand demonstrates maturity and an awareness of what enhances human values.

Michael Meadowcroft

Leeds, West Yorkshire

Has Helen Grant never heard of rowing? ("Greatest year for women's sport", 28 December.) This is the sport in which not only did GB women achieve extraordinary success at the 2012 Olympics but in which one crew in particular has remained unbeaten ever since, culminating in winning the World Championships in August 2014 in a world record time. Short or selective memory, then? And it's not just because I'm a proud uncle that I feel constrained to write!

David Stanning

Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire

The Environment Agency does not hold shares in any listed companies. Like many pension funds, the Environment Agency Pension Fund invests in a wide range of companies and these assets are completely separate from the Environment Agency.

The day-to-day management of the fund and selection of companies is delegated to external fund managers. The fund invests more than £600m in clean technologies, and is recognised as a global leader in responsible and sustainable investment.

John Varley

Chairman of Environment Agency Pension Fund, London SW1

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