Letter: Feral felines, not pussy cats

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Neal Ascherson is right that "multinational capitalism has been badly mauled in recent years" when products are sold in countries in which they - and the NGOs concerned - are based (3 August). He is quite wrong when he says that "thuggery is out" and that it is no longer an option to arrange for "do-gooders" to be denied visas.

I invite him to visit India. The reality there is still that multinationals first subvert the local authorities and then, with their connivance, disregard health and safety regulations.

Amnesty International's July report offers a restrained account of various forms of oppression against Indian villagers who, for three years, have resisted the loss of their land and livelihood to one conglomerate. It has photographs of assaults on these men and women and detailed evidence from respected sources. Amnesty personnel are currently denied visas - as are Greenpeace "do-gooders".

Corporate manufacturers continue cynically to promote the sale of tobacco and baby milk powder. People in Goa struggled for six years against an unwelcome chemicals project and many in Bhopal are still suffering from the consequences of the Union Carbide accident. The health of farmers and consumers is damaged by agricultural chemicals - some banned in the countries of the exporting corporations.

NGOs do not have the financial resources to work effectively against rich and powerful multinational corporations, nor to meet the cost of libel cases. The suffering caused by their recently reported activities in India, Peru, Colombia and Nigeria, may well be the tip of an iceberg which the NGOs cannot afford to examine.

These multinationals are not "nervous old pussies" - in developing countries they are predatory feral felines.

Anne Haydock

Birmingham

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