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Friday, 20 June 2008

Guns or butter applies to crops, too

The Indie on Sunday's Environmental Editor writes in the Mail this morning on GM crops to do a pretty thorough demolition job on the biotech firms' claims. GM crops are not higher yielding, and are not the answer to third world hunger. There are no overall advantages in pest or disease resistance. The plants are sterile in the F1 generation, meaning farmers have to buy seeds every year from the biotech firms. And most damning of all, traditional methods of natural interbreeding have proved far more effective in producing cultivars with given characteristics than GM has.

If oil prices rise to $200 and beyond the cost of fertilizers and pesticides becomes prohibitive, and the choice may vector to cultivars with greater natural disease resistance but lower yields, or lower quantities of high yield cultivars. Guns or butter. Either way, the phenomenon of past few decades in which world agricultural productivity has matched extraordinary population growth has ended. And it doesn't matter if wheat is used to make biofuels, feed beef cattle or make bread; guns or butter again. It's the overall quantity produced that's critical, not the end use.

Those of us who grew up with the battle against famine in China, India, Africa and even the USSR - and remember, the cold war was won not with nuclear missiles but with US and Canadian wheat - need no reminder how fragile is our ability to feed ourselves. There was a comment from an old City man in last night's Standard to the effect that few of those now in the Treasury and the Bank were old enough to have had experienced a recession and were running about like headless chickens. The same applies to many now in government never having experienced the gutwrenching helplessness as millions in other nations faced starvation, disease and death.

I've written here before that my generation, a generation never called upon to go to war, never hungry, never having faced epidemic disease, and having enjoyed half a century of unprecedented economic and technological advance fuelled by cheap oil, may represent the fin de siecle of the 20th century, an extended Edwardian summer, and that as in August 1914 all this is about to fragment and disappear for ever. A government that makes a priority of both energy security and food security in all its actions is now more critical than ever; Brown and Labour are simply incapable of this. Getting them out of office is no longer a matter of Political preference but a matter of the gravest and most compelling importance for our national future.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

The life and death of mercenaries

Waste no pity on Simon Mann. Those who take up the life of a mercenary are pushing luck to its limits; their lives end either in a hail of AK47 rounds on some jungle floor or as sad drunks weltering in self pity as they prop up some seedy bar. Mann has shown little conscience for all those he has killed over the years not for Queen and country or for ideology but for money. A mercenary is just a hit-man in a parody of uniform.

As for Mark Thatcher, I've met him and can confirm he really is the vile and odious creature he's been painted. My only hope is that if he does face extradition to answer for his part in Mann's attempted coup that his mother is not alive to see it.

Correlli Barnett and Blair

I have long disagreed with Barnett's take on many aspects of the Great War, but nonetheless he is an historian who continues to provoke and challenge. It was Barnett who pointed out that you can no more have a 'War on Terror' than you can have a 'War on Rifles' or a 'War on Spears', terror being a weapon and not an enemy if you take his meaning. In this morning's Mail he writes:

As a military historian, I have to say that it turns my stomach to see veterans on television with sawn-off stumps instead of legs and yet bravely facing the future, while Tony Blair himself seems utterly untouched by such human consequences of his part in the Afghan adventure (has he ever visited a military hospital?).

It sickens me all the more that while our wounded and their families struggle to cope, Blair's bank account gets ever more swollen with director's fees and American lecture fees, and he himself becomes ever more swollen with self-love.
Now that's one analysis of Barnett's I'd not argue against.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Straw stuck in Statist rut

Straw's White Paper on party funding is little more than a cynical and mendacious ploy to maintain the position of the main parties in the face of plummeting memberships and shrinking donations. Tax funding for the dying Labour Party, the securing of the position of national parties over local candidates in law, and the most illiberal and undemocratic strengthening of party incumbency are just a few of the points that emerge from a quick first reading that has left me fuming in rage.

This pernicious and dirty little paper has no part in our democracy; this is the politics of the banana republic, the politics of Mugabe and his thugs, the politics of every unpopular and mistrusted government that seeks to artificially prolong its life at the expense of the democratic choice of the people. It must be resisted with every effort we can muster.

I don't have time this morning to detail the grevious harms that these proposals contain, but will return to them. Tax funding of political parties is anathema - and this is an issue I am prepared to go to jail for. The fight back starts here.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Guardianistas savage Hutton

When that old Blairist Will Hutton tried to make the case for a federal Europe in the Guardian on Saturday, his opinions attracted over 300 reader comments, around 90% of which are unashamedly hostile. Even the Guardianistas, it seems, are fed up with this manipulation:
- You don't have a clue, do you, Will?
- The article above is nonsense from top to bottom, a farrago of lies and disinformation. Will Hutton is a painfully constructed and fragile skein of ignorance and vanity.
- Good title - shame about the substance of your article which is nonsense.
- What a load of cobblers! What an arrogant anti-democratic typically europhiliac tissue of lies!
- Will Hutton is either hopelessly misinformed here, or is being disingenuous in the extreme.
- Ah, what a surprise; the oldest lie/disinformation of all from Mr. Hutton: the classic false dichotomy - 'this EU or no EU'.
- Will Hutton, pompous and bloated as ever.
- I do hope Will that you had been drinking heavily before writing this astonishing piece of hectoring, factually incorrect, nonsense.
- This article is nonsense from top to bottom.
- Your article frightened me in its totalitarian tone .
- What a load of absolute rubbish by Hutton.
- The younger more astute Will Hutton would have understood the difference between being Pro-Europe and being Pro-Lisbon
- GO **** YOURSELF Will Hutton!
- This article is nonsense from top to bottom, aside from the first paragraph which was about right.
- Predictable dishonest pro-EU propaganda and fearmongering from a 'made man' in the Euro elite.
- your article is nonsense from top to bottom, cant you understand that some of us quite well understand what the eu wants and we don't like it.
Gives a flavour of what Guardian readers think of Hutton's position. The hand-knitted yoghurt sandal wearers have just risen a notch in my opinion.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

The intellectual arrogance of the Euro fanatics

Moslem fanatics envisage an Ummah under which all nations are united in the rule of Islam whether they want to be or not; the justification is that it's for their own good. Exactly the same totalitarian and unregarding fanaticism drives the Euro fanatic. A senior EU official, widely quoted this weekend, commented "It's outrageous that 3m voters should determine the future of 430m people"

And therein lies the intellectual self-deceit of the Euro fanatic. The 3m voters of Ireland were the only voters out of the 430m who were given the opportunity to make a choice. What is truly outrageous is that the 430m people of Europe were not balloted on the fanatics' vision of a Euro Ummah.

I sometimes wonder if there's not some wholly compelling dreadful secret justification for the Euro project; a vision so chillingly threatening that senior politicians across Europe admitted to the secret at once fall behind the establishment of a united Euro State. But there isn't. All the arguments are out in the open. Nevertheless, I still fail to understand why so many political leaders plough ahead with this project in defiance of the views of their own people.

We should no more expect the Euro fanatics now to concede defeat than we would expect the Jihadists to lay down their suicide vests. Fanatics are fanatics, after all. Until we have a government in the United Kingdom immune to this contagious Euro virus and prepared to fundamentally renegotiate our position to one of free trade and open borders rather than political union I fear we will need to be eternally vigilant against the fanatics.