Lucky enough to get to the anti Monsanto rally out-side the parliament today. Coincided with a huge influx of Europeans for a football match so the streets and Trafalgar Square were a mass of people and their litter.
Lots of groups represented , Real Bread campaign who were focussing on Monsanto’s push to introduce their genetically modified wheat. The GM freeze campaign are urging people to petition the government in the strongest terms telling them we don’t want or need gm wheat. Lots of facts presented through-out the rally and if this one can be authenticated may-be Steve Marsh in Western Australia ( see an earlier post of mine ) can take hope. The US courts have ordered Bayer to pay farmers over US53 million dollars in costs and contamination of rice farms in 2006. Thousands more claims are in the pipe line. Another leaflet tells us that a Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) is an advanced genetic technique used to identify valuable traits in parent plants before fertilisation to ensure those genes are passed to offspring plants. This cutting edge development of traditional plant breeding has already produced breakthroughs where GM has failed. Modern science shows genes have far more complicated interactions with one another and the environment than was earlier imagined. Most of us who live close to the ground know that by observation. Therefore many of the promises sold to governments and people by the GM industry based on simply moving a few genes between species may simply not prove viable or even possible.
It’s not your normal classroom activity, but beekeeping is strictly on the books for students from Shearwater Primary School in Mullumbimby, NSW.
The school, which is registered with the Australian Organic Schools program, has created a real buzz with the introduction of a permanent bee colony into its Year 4 classroom.
Bees are contained in an observation hive, which allows students to watch all aspects of a honey bee’s life through two sheets of safety glass. Bees can freely access the outdoor world through a clear tube. Working hives have also been introduced in the school yard, including a Langstroth and Kenyan Top Bar hive.
At last out of London, to Liz’s 40th birthday celebration in Okletree, a splendid day and evening with a beautifully prepared and enjoyed feast and tranquil strolls down to the end of the garden to the edges of the Avon river.
Next day we venture to Salisbury and its magnificent cathedral (1220 foundation stone laid ) Viewed one of the 4 surviving texts of the Magna Carta, the famous agreement between King John ( absolute power ) and the Barons of Runnymede in 1215. In Latin and written up on calf skin it is a beautiful document to view. The sealing of the Charter was a victory for the rule of law and established, amongst other things, that no free man may be imprisoned or prosecuted with-out fair trail before his equals. Shame people like Alan Turing didn’t benefit from that before he suicides.
Interesting week too in the house of commons which passed the same-sex bill onto the House of Lords. Quite a few laughs coming from the odd politicians. One said something about aggressive homosexuals, same politician has a history of saying loony things about sex, kind of gets people’s sexuality and life confused. He also thought gay marriage was a “stepping stone “, probably is, to arguments on what brand of something or rather to buy at the supermarket, silly man. Hadley Freeman, in the Guardian thought he was confusing homosexuals with pit bulls. Another spouted something about the country having a lesbian queen and who then might go on to receive donated sperm. Who would be the heir to the throne if that happened ? Sounds a lot more democratic to what is the case now to me. One comment in the press went on to say the general public would then have 2 wedding dresses to coo over instead of one.
Another m.p. commented that a father would want to marry his son ? A famous English actor said similar recently. No mention of mother’s wanting to marry their daughters ? At least their out-pourings reveal how ignorant some of our elected representatives are ?
Watched the first of Simon Reeve’s latest in a 3 series production on AUSTRALIA on BBC 2 last night. Beautifully filmed he started in the red centre then down to the wine region in South Australia. ( Hardy’s wine, which sells here for 10 pound or less in supermarkets and which takes 100s of litres of precious water per bottle to produce in the world’s driest continent ) to the herding, for slaughter for meat mainly, of the 1000s of feral and very healthy looking camels. Camels were first introduced to haul goods through-out the desert regions in the early days of white settlement. In the last few years their large numbers have been shot and left to die on the ground. This cattle rancher now makes money with their slaughter for human consumption. Irony is the cattle he was farming looked decidedly unhealthy compared to the robust camel. Environmentally both have equal negative impact in my view.
He followed on with interviewing a family from Hull, who migrated to Perth where the man is making extra good dollars which means he can buy a boat and enjoy a large house with swimming pool. To pay for this lifestyle he teaches any-one to drive the huge trucks that carry the rock and soil away, to expose the minerals that feed China and the extraordinary out-put of what ends up in most of the retail out-lets all over the world. The man and his family think they are in heaven.
Then a peak into a tuna research station ( secret location ) which is trying to replicate the tuna’s life cycle from the Java sea down the coast of Australia. Tuna is almost depleted in the wild and this effort is to advance the farming of them. Not easy it seems. Why don’t we just eat the small fry they feed the captive tuna with and leave whats left in the wild tuna alone ? The size of their pens reminded me of battery hens A4 size cages.
Reeves is a fair commentator in my view, gives a balanced assessment of human’s advancing their economic status, to the huge environmental impact on the countries very fragile ecology as we do so. To the ongoing tragedy of the ABORIGINAL people, marginalized on the edges of a massive third of a mile deep excavation. Rubbish strewn settlement environments with burnt out shells of cars dotted everywhere. London’s environment would be similar if there wasn’t 24 hour cleaning services. The amount of rubbish, vomit ect on the pavements after a friday or saturday night is a common sight around Clapham where I have been house and cat minding. Every morning the small front yard is strewn with takeaway food bags, polystyrene containers and cigarette butts. Simon thinks that as a country Australia still has not got a grip on the ABORIGINAL tragedy. And he says its every-ones problem, not just the governments. I think he is right but while mining, as in Canada, takes number one place in the economy there is little hope when the indigenous people lived off the entire land-scape.
Next episode he looks at the diminishing of the GREAT BARRIER REEF, which is being slowly destroyed from farmer’s artificial fertiliser and herbicide run off and the creation of deep water ports to anchor the huge ships carrying away the natural resources to keep the world happy in its consumer spending.
W/ell worth a viewing and although pessimistic at times, Reeve’s is always upbeat and thoughtful.
A farmer I talked to yesterday told me the dramatic decline of bees he has seen over the last 10 years is a combination of herbicide use and cultivation of all available land with either not allowing red clovers to flower or removing so-called weeds before they have a chance of flowering. Its called the tidy look. These photos are of the wonderful Brompton cemetery which does not use herbicides and encourages all plants to grow. If I was ever to be buried in a cemetery I hope it is one like this one where squirrels and birds flourish. But I saw no bees.
First opened in 1910 and has been a cinema ever since. An amazing history. Electric Cinema link.
Very busy market which goes on for miles. Becomes more interesting as I walked towards its end. Street food of every variety and second-hand clothes. A major tourist attraction with loads of rubbish amongst overpriced antiques.
Through-out the City of London there are many new buildings rising from the cleared sites of buildings I barely remember. I wonder who or what are going to occupy these vast spaces and what real wealth for the ordinary person is going to be created from with-in them. In cities like Bradford, where the older first generation of former migrants are now being competed against with waves from the expanded EU I wonder how many pound shops ( selling inferior food and goods ) can open. But then there are always those employers who only pay peanuts they call wages and that is the irony with this country wanting to leave the EU, business needs the cheap labour from the East to boost their bottomline and fill all these expensive buildings going up like mushrooms in the City of London.