East Midlands Green Party Blog


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A Cruelty Free Christmas

What does Christmas mean to us? Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, born in poverty to live a humble life among ordinary people. Other symbols are for example Santa which came from a Bishop St Nicolas from Turkey. He gave to the poor.
But this humble and religious aspect of Christmas seems now completely lost, its meaning has changed, but to what? Most people would say it’s about spending time with family, eating well, and an expression of love, which seems now to be in the shape of presents and good food. Experiencing my 13 year old daughter, and witnessing our society, it appears that we somehow measure our love and care for each other in the amount of money spent on gifts and food.
So Christmas has become a symptom of pure capitalism; and capitalism comes with victims. In order to produce endless items (cloths, cosmetics, electrical devises, jewellery, toys, etc) cheap labour, often in developing countries like China or Bangladesh is required. We know how these workers are treated and with few rights they are left vulnerable and exploited.
Production of consumer goods means the use of energy; this means burning fossil fuels that leads to climate change, more violent storms, loss of live and livelihoods. We are facing the biggest environmental catastrophe in our history, which we have been causing by our ignorance and greed for ever more goods.
Our exploitation does not stop here; animals are also paying a huge price for our Christmas tradition. Millions of turkeys are slaughtered along with ducks, geese, pigs, lambs and chickens. Puppies and kittens are given away as presents, then often neglected or discarded by new owners when the novelty has worn off. Prettily packaged cosmetics and toiletries make nice presents, but were probably cruelly tested on animals. Rabbits and foxes have their fur stripped from them to be turned into clothing and accessories.
So is Christmas a season for giving and caring? Not really. But it does not have to be that way. In my family we have a rule no presents for more than £5 per a person – except the children, they get “normal” presents exceeding our limit. We do allow some capitalistic expectation for them, since living in our society we want to avoid them feeling left out or neglected. However, we will discuss the original meaning of Christmas with them, and the madness of spending a lot of money as some sort of expression of love. Furthermore, we will spend some time at Christmas thinking and talking about people here in the UK and over the world, who are suffering as a direct result of our unequal, exploitative culture.
So let’s try and make this a truly “Merry” (for all) Christmas; lets reduce this madness of consumption, let’s spend time with others, think about the less fortunate and vulnerable people, and let’s try to make this a victim- free Christmas. And then we truly can enjoy ourselves.
Oh yes – and cruelty free, here is a wonderful vegetarian nut roast that can replace the turkey, and you can still have all the trimmings!
Lentil and Cashew Nut Roast [for 6 – 2hrs 40min]
75g finely chopped red peppers
2300g red split lentils
450 ml vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
100g unsalted cashew nuts
11/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small leeks, trimmed & finely chopped
100g mushrooms finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
75g mature vegetarian Cheddar cheese, grated
100g wholemeal bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
1 free range egg, lightly beaten.
• Rinse the lentils in a sieve under cold running water. Drain, then tip into a saucepan. Add stock and the bay leaf, bring to the boil.
• Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and pulpy and the stock has been absorbed. Stir briefly to prevent the lentils sticking, discard the bay leaf.
• While the lentils are cooking, put the cashew nuts in a non-stick frying pan and toast over a moderate heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently, set aside to cool, then roughly chop.
• Preheat the oven to 190C/375F
• Line the bottom of a 1.4 litre loaf tin with a piece of greaseproof paper.
• Add the oil to the frying pan and cook the onions over a moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, leeks, peppers and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir the lemon juice
• Tip the lentils and vegetables into a mixing bowl Stir in the breadcrumbs, cashews and 2 tablespoons of the parsley, followed by the grated cheese and the beaten egg. Season to taste then spoon into the loaf tin. Level the top and cover with a piece of lightly oiled foil.
• Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the bake comes out clean.
• Remove from the oven and leave to cool while set in the tin. After 10 minutes turn out and cut into thick slices
• Serve with all the trimmings and enjoy a cruelty free Christmas Dinner

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Kat


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Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB

In the light of recent events we are reblogging a July post by Mike Shipely on the badger culls which scientific reports say will not stop TB outbreaks:

The Green Party recognises that bovine TB is a serious problem, that it threatens the livelihood of many farmers, causes undue stress and costs the taxpayer around £50 million a year.  The problem has become progressively worse since the early 1980′s and successive governments have failed to develop a satisfactory policy to combat it. This Coalition Government is no exception. As the Defra website understates: A number of different measures have been tried to control the TB in cattle by culling badgers. None of these were entirely successful. ‘  Put more simply, policies, largely reliant on culling, but including movement restrictions and herd testing, have failed.  The measure of this failure has been the progressive spread of the disease from a few remaining residual pockets in the West Country in the late 1970′s to most agricultural areas of mainland Britain.

The disease has been spread by the movement of infected cattle.  As Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says, “Bovine TB is spreading at an alarming rate and causing real devastation to our beef and dairy industry.”  Such a rapid spread could not be caused by badgers who, if undisturbed, will remain in a restricted locality for the whole of their relatively short lives. There is evidence to show that the level of disease on badgers lags that in cattle in the same area.  If badgers were causing the spread, the disease would be higher in their population than in cattle.  In addition, infected cattle are found in areas with no badger population. It is true that badgers can pass the infection back to cattle, but most infection is cattle to cattle and always has been.

The fixation that some farmers, rural vets and politicians have with the badger to cattle transmission has prevented the adoption of the effective control regime that this country needs.  Because  of opposition to badger culling, Professor John Krebs was asked to evaluate its effectiveness 20 years ago.  He  found that there was a lack of scientific information on which to base recommendations and he advised that a properly conducted study of bTB in this country be carried out.  This study took 10 years and its final report, a rigorous, peer reviewed scientific evaluation of the disease in the UK was published in 2008.  It contained two key conclusions, these were:

First, while badgers are clearly a source of cattle TB, careful evaluation of our own and others’ data indicates that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.

Second, weaknesses in cattle testing regimes mean that cattle themselves contribute significantly to the persistence and spread of disease in all areas where TB occurs, and in some parts of Britain are likely to be the main source of infection.

Further, the report recommended that:  Scientific findings indicate that the rising incidence of disease can be reversed, and geographical spread contained, by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone. These measures include improved bio-security on farms to prevent contact between badgers and cattle, regular testing of cattle, and strictly controlled movements linked to the testing regime so that no infected cattle are moved and an improvement in the reliability of the bTB test.  The clear message is that culling is unnecessary and can be counter-productive.

It should be noted that this ten year study included a scientifically based Randomised Badger Cull Trial designed to test the effectiveness of culling in both infected areas and in clear areas to check the spread. The report stated:RBCT results showed that reactive culling [in response to an outbreak of the disease] increased, rather than reduced, the incidence of TB in cattle, making this unacceptable as a future policy option.  On Proactive culling, designed to stop the spread of the disease in clear areas the report found: reduced TB incidence in cattle in culled areas. However, …. this beneficial effect on cattle breakdowns was offset by an increased incidence of the disease in surrounding un-culled areas.

KCC2008Wildwood161The Green Party accepts these scientific findings and strongly opposes the new badger-cull pilots  as contrary to the clear scientific evidence; we also have significant animal-welfare, public-safety and ethical concerns.  Caroline Allen, a practising vet who speaks on animal welfare issues has said, ‘..the measure of success of the cull is a reduction in TB of around 15%, i.e. leaving 85% of the disease untouched, this all seems completely nonsensical.’  She also noted that the Government has cut funding for vaccination trials.  This decision is also nonsensical. Greens support the decision by the Wales Assembly to scrap the cull and fund a scientific vaccination trial.  We strongly support those independent groups, including Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who are raising funds from the public to run a five year trial of vaccination in the badger population. We endorse the Trust’s strategy to control the disease through vaccination and increased biosecurity on farms and call on the Government to provide funding for measures such as electric fencing and badger gates to segregate cattle and badgers.  The Government must also increase funding for an oral badger vaccination and for improved cattle testing.  It must work with the EU to get approval for the use of the available cattle vaccine and to get increased funding for improved treatments.  In addition the movement restrictions on animals from infected areas must be more strictly enforced. 

If farmers are serious about bringing bTB under control in the UK, they must accept the science, stop treating badgers as a scapegoat and adopt this packet of measures.  They require a lead from Government and from the NFU.  If these bodies will not give this lead, then farmers like so many other section of society  must turn to those who will give the lead needed and vote for a change of leadership, both of the NFU and of the country.

Please Sign the anti-cull e-petition and get your friends to do the same.  The No 10 petition to stop the cull has now passed 220,000 signatures.

But the more signatures it gets the stronger the message it sends to the Government so keep signing!http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38

Fore more information on the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Vaccination Trial go to:

http://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/badgersCulling Badgers will not stop bovine TB.

via Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB.


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Green Party says NO to Foston Factory Farm, Green Party says NO to all Factory Farms

The Green Party is opposing the planning application for the development of a mega Pig Factory Farm by Midlands Pig Producers. We also oppose any factory farm for several good reasons outlined below. This specific development would be placed in the pleasant rural village of Foston on Uttoxeter Road, South Derbyshire. The planning application involves a pig rearing unit together with anaerobic digestion facility and associated infrastructures. Midlands Pig Producer already have a factory farm in the area which holds around 5000 pigs. The Foston unit would hold 25000 pigs with 1000 pigs being slaughtered every week.

South Derbyshire DC has refused permission, the matter now lies with Derbyshire County Council who have called for more evidence on environmental impacts. If they refuse the matter will almost certainly go to appeal and be decided by the Ministry of Environment.

Foston residents have been campaigning against this massive development for some time now. The site is bordered by housing and a women’s prison, the natal unit of which is within 130 meters to the pig farm. I have spoken to some residents who have serious concerns about possible health implications, which I understand have not been fully assessed. It is unclear what Midlands Pig Producers would do in the event of an outbreak of disease for example Food and Mouth. Residents fear that the pig unit and possible neighbouring houses and the prison might have to be quarantined and movement in the village strictly limited.

Furthermore local residents understandably do not wish to live next to a big industrial unit, with its associated noise, smell and traffic movements. Although the developers claim that they will filter off 90% of the noise and smells; residents fear that the remaining noise and smells from 25,000 pigs will have a serious impact on their lives.

Another really important point is the risk of flooding. This area is prone to flooding. The actual flood-line is very close to the development; and flooding increases the risk of water contamination. The Environment Agency has objected to the plan on the basis that the risks to groundwater contamination can not be properly managed.

The development will cause a significant increase in traffic movements and noise in an area that lacks the infrastructure to properly absorb these impacts. The proposal is therefore contrary to established planning guidelines for developments in rural areas. Furthermore, the access road to and from the site is not appropriate for heavy industrial and agricultural traffic.

The Green Party promotes a sustainable approach to food production and these mega units, reliant on cheap oil and animal feed are not sustainable, which is why we oppose not only the Foston piggery but also all factory farms. We believe that the land used to grow the animal feed should be used to grow food for human consumption. Producing meat means that these animals have to be fed. Land used to grow the animal food is taken from the area used to grow human food. More intensive units means less land for human food. The calorie needs of a growing pig is about double that of a human child under 10 and 50% higher than an active adult. So the food going to this pig unit could feed 50,000 children.

I feel strongly about animal welfare, since animals are able to experience many of the same feeling as humans do. Any human with some sense of empathy can sense that animals can feel fear, pain and discomfort, they also feel stress when separated from their young. Keeping pigs or any other animals in cages for all of their lives, without natural light, without the chance to be part of their social structures – is cruel. I understand that Midlands Pig Producers claim that they will keep to the RSPCA code of welfare for farmed animals. In my opinion these standards are inadequate for these intelligent and social animals.

Another major concern is the use of antibiotics. In large factory farms animals are kept in unnatural and confined environments, the outbreak and spread of diseases is, therefore a serious risk. In order to prevent this, animals are usually kept on low doses of antibiotics. 27% of all antibiotics are used in pig farming here in the UK. Experts are increasingly warning that bacteria are getting resistant to these antibiotics, which are the same as the ones used in human medicine. We rely on antibiotics heavily; without effective antibiotics normal operations and common illness can become lethal. Risking losing the service of valuable antibiotics through overuse as in factory farms is irresponsible.

As mentioned above, the Green Party says that we have to address sustainability in food production. These factory farms use a lot of energy and have a high carbon footprint. Since we are facing a major environmental crisis, we need to reduce energy usage and carbon omission. The UN has published information that states that the meat and diary industry produces 18% of green house gases globally; however other studies imply an even higher contribution.

These factory units will further harm small and medium sized farmers. Farmers cannot compete with the low prices that these mega units can achieve at the present time. This unit would have around 18 employees working in the factory; if the pigs were traditionally farmed, far more people would be employed and earning a living from this. Do we really want our British farming to become an industrial production line? Do we really want our landscape to be filled with industrial units? Or do we want to see traditional farms with grazing animals in the fields?

Having looked at this Foston development I could not find a single reason that I thought was persuasive in its favour. Local residents, traditional farmers, the pigs, the consumers’ health, our environment all would have to pay a price so that a handful of people could get rich. That is simply not a good reason to allow mega factory farms.


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Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB

Over the next year, voices from across the East Midlands Green Party will be exploring different and often less spoken of political themes. In this article from the active Derbyshire Greens and Mike Shipley we address the continued inhumane and expensive badger culling,  ineffective in the fight against TB. This introduces  the topic of animal rights. Animal rights is not on the agenda for other parties, but, as this post shows, it it political and connected to our own and planet’s well-being.

Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB.

via Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB.


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Mass Production of Animals

Animal mass production includes not only meat production, but also eggs and dairy.

I feel very strongly about the unnecessary cruelty to animals. When I tried to watch an educational film showing the conditions in intensive animal farms and slaughter houses, I started to cry within a few seconds and was not able to continue to watch. This has deeply upset me. When I see a suffering animal, I can empathically sense their pain. Cosumers seem to dissociate themselves from the reality of animal production, in order to be able to eat their £2 chicken without feeling guilty.

Besides the cruelty, there are many other reasons why we need to reduce our consumption of animal products. Our nation is suffering from an obesity epidemic and other health complications that are associated with a diet high in meat and dairy products. However, other serious health risks will be caused by the overuse of antibiotics, used to limit the spread of disease in intensive farming. Traces of antibiotics can be found in products like meat, and is additionally passed into the ground water through sanitation, which finds its way into the water system and further to us. Because of this, we all consume these antibiotics; unfortunately this will result in bacteria increasingly becoming immune to it. The effectiveness of antibiotics will be compromised.

I could write endless essays about the catastrophic effects of the mass production of animals. Nevertheless, climate change is one of the most urgent issues that is changing our world forever. A commonly quoted study indicates that 18% of green house gases are generated by the meat and dairy industries (2006, United Nations Food and Argicultural Organization).  However, Goodlang and Anhang, co-authors of “Livestock and Climate Change”,  found that livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per a year or 51% of anual worldwide green house gas emissions.

Please read the report for further details.