Letters, Monday, March 26th, 2012

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Farming for a better future

TO continue my mini series of letters highlighting the problems caused by a capitalist society, I’d like to introduce the reader to Compassion in World Farming (CWF).

CWF is a charity founded in 1967 by a British farmer horrified by the development of modern intensive farming. CWF believes that intensive farming is the biggest cause of cruelty to animals. Its undercover investigations have exposed the reality of modern intensive farming methods, and its political lobbying was instrumental in the EU recognising that animals are sentient beings, capable of feeling pain and suffering.

CWF has also secured landmark agreements to outlaw the barren battery cage for egg-laying hens, narrow veal crates and sow stalls across Europe.

In November 2009 Friends of the Earth (FoE) jointly with CWF published the report Eating the Planet? which highlighted the unsustainable practice of destroying the rain-forests in South America – adding to climate change – to grow soya which is then shipped to Europe to feed livestock using intensive farming practices.

Meat and dairy farming produces around 18 per cent of the global climate-changing gases – more than all the world’s transport.

Big business would have us believe that to feed a growing world population we need to massively intensify farming. But expanding factory farms so that we can eat more meat and dairy would push the world’s climate and resources over the edge.

October 2010 saw the production of the report Healthy Planet Eating, by Oxford University’s Department of Public Health. This research shows the world can produce enough food for a global population of over nine billion by 2050 without factory farms and forest destruction.

It also sees an important role for environmentally-beneficial organic farming. Eating better quality meat two or three times each week means we can feed everyone fairly.

Allan Rowell, Wearside Friends of the Earth

Wrong words

CHRIS Young’s article in the Echo of March 20 referred to Phil Bardsley’s “war wounds”.

The bodies of six young soldiers returning from Afghanistan was being shown on television at the time of reading. They have been in a war.

The Journal often refers to “war chests” when talking about Newcastle United FC.

Would all journalists like to borrow a Thesaurus to find more appropriate wording when they are reporting on football?

Moira and Frank Smith, Whitburn

Pay fairness

WHEN in 1966 I joined the staff of Monkwearmouth School as a fresh-faced teacher, newly qualified, I was earning considerably less than many of my contemporaries working in industry.

With the passage of time my pay caught up with many of these pals, as it was recognised that this was the way to attract those with good degrees into teaching.

I believe that a teacher in Sunderland, doing the same work as one in Surrey, deserves the same rate of pay. If the teacher in Surrey is poorly paid by his or her local standards then local weighting allowances should be introduced and not a pay freeze imposed in Sunderland.

Bob Francis, Conservative councillor, Fulwell Ward

Teenage secret

ONE of the best aspects of life today is the tolerance people show to gay men. It wasn’t always so. It’s astonishing to think that when I was young, homosexual acts, even in private, were punished as crimes.

In those dark ages people could go to prison as a result of their sexual orientation.

Although I am not gay, the first person I fell for was a boy in my class at school. For years I felt so ashamed that I made excuses: he was good looking, attractive, even sexy.

At the age of 14 I didn’t understand what was happening to me, because I liked girls too. It was impossible to talk to anyone about it, or confide in a friend. I knew I had to keep it a secret from everyone, particularly the boy himself.

What was wrong with me? Was I diseased? Was I a criminal for having fantasies about this boy?

For over four years, until we were 18, I went through daily agonies and torture at school. I was terrified in case my family found out, or that I would become a subject of ridicule.

What would the school do? Would I be expelled? Maybe I’d be caned, although how such a punishment would have helped I don’t know.

I’ve never felt able to speak about this, but I’m an old man now and we live in a more tolerant society. It doesn’t matter any more.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of when you fall in love with another human being.

J. Ridler, Hylton Road, Sunderland