Readers' letters: The unintended consequences of farming

"Many alternative options also come at human and environmental costs that evade scrutiny”

Saturday, 26th June 2021, 7:00 am
Cow, Domestic Cattle, Cattle, Ranch, Beef Cattle

The unintended consequences of farming

After a lifetime's involvement with livestock farming I noted with interest recent references to unethical practices in the livestock sector and crops that are grown to supply animal feed instead of nutrition for the world's poor.

Areas of production can offend sensibilities, such as beef feedlots in the USA which prefer to be described euphemistically as 'concentrated animal feeding operations.'

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By contrast UK farms have the highest animal welfare standards in the world where livestock farmers provide a duty of care and respect for their animals as well as acting as custodians of our countryside.

The perceptions of livestock farming by the growing number of adherents to veganism can be respected, but they should reflect on some of the unintended consequences of their choices.

For example, many opt to drink almond milk as an alternative to cows’ milk, probably unaware that it takes 400 litres of water to produce one litre of a product that has been stripped of nearly all of it's original high mineral and vitamin content

Similar dietary preferences have also caused serious escalation to the price of avocado and quinoa in Mexico, Brazil and China, causing financial hardship and diminished supplies of staple diets for many of the world's poorer people.

Indeed, avocado demand is the prime driver of illegal deforestation in Mexico in order to make way for avocado trees. 'Food miles' is another negative aspect.

Modern lifestyles have many negative consequences and the inconvenient reality is that many alternative options also come at human and environmental costs that inexplicably evade scrutiny.

Neil J Bryce, Kelso.

Health staff should not face the sack

Now that the vaccine programme has been deemed such a success the professors of doom are at it again. They are demanding NHS staff and care home workers must have both jabs of the vaccine or face the sack. I was led to believe the jabs were to save me from the virus, but always made aware it would not stop me from being a carrier.

So why should they now demand that people have the vaccine or else? Surely the non vac people are only risking their own lives, like smokers, drinkers and over-eaters. Should they be barred from hospitals and homes as well, where is this all going to end?

Are we to forget that these people worked through the worst of this virus, in unready hospitals, without proper PPE and no vaccine; are we now to demand they get the sack?

All politicians need to get a grip and out of these restrictive practices. Barring people from going to Salford, Manchester and Blackpool is not the way to get us back to normality.

Ronald Arthur, Wisp Green, Edinburgh.

Not enough PR

In Scotland, proliferation of parties is limited by the constituency vote (first past the post). The D'Honte rules then only modify the result, allowing candidates shut out by the constituency vote to get seats roughly in proportion to the votes.

However, this system is not entirely fair. In the last Holyrood election the seats gained did not mirror the votes cast well enough.

If they had used the Single Transferable Vote system (already used in Scottish local elections), the Greens would not have as many seats and nor would the SNP. Opposition parties would have had more and the SNP might have struggled to get an overall majority. The problem is not PR, but not enough PR.

Steuart Campbell, Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh.