The price of a cup of tea

The BBC’s investigation of workers’ conditions on tea plantations in Assam makes depressing reading. The squalor and poverty behind one of the world’s favourite drinks is appalling.

It is striking that the response of Unilever, a company often held up as a beacon of responsibility and sustainability, is so weak. According to the BBC, Unilever . . . → Read More: The price of a cup of tea

Unilever has such a nice image

But is it complicit with the TTIP process?

Articles like this one in the Guardian have celebrated the virtues and actions of Unilever in both environmental and social fields. And it is true that they have done a number of positive things and Paul Polman, their CEO, seems personally committed to sustainability. You would have . . . → Read More: Unilever has such a nice image

When science clashes with society…

Should public honour be given to scientists irrespective of the social impact of their researches? Would it have been right for Robert Oppenheimer to have been awarded a Nobel Prize for his work on the Manhattan Project?

The World Food Prize is a case in point. The 2013 World Food Prize has been awarded to . . . → Read More: When science clashes with society…

Enclosing the sea

Large fishing companies are trying to privatise one of the few remaining wildernesses: the contents of the sea. The UK Association of Fish Producers (UKAFPO) is a secretive organisation with no discernible website. It is likely its ultimate sponsors are large, wealthy companies that already monopolise the majority of the British catch.

UKAFPO is suing . . . → Read More: Enclosing the sea

Now we need permission to be ethical!

The European Court of Justice ruled recently that it is lawful for the public sector to procure on ethical grounds. Given that the public sector is about 40% of the economy, that is a relief. The FairTrade Foundation has welcomed the ruling.

But they also said that organic or fairtrade labels couldn’t be used directly . . . → Read More: Now we need permission to be ethical!

Carry On Guzzling

The Lancet, the academic community, the government and the World Health Organisation all agree that obesity is a serious threat. Interestingly, so does the food industry.

So, as a nation, should we:

a) just take individual responsibility and eat less? (Requires a strong and persistent public education campaign. People may also need a little help . . . → Read More: Carry On Guzzling

Feeding Frenzy

The IDS of Sussex University has just released a report that addresses the world’s need for food. Yet the headlines say the the world needs GM and new technologies. What is going on?

The report was produced for the UK government’s BIS. It points out that the reasons for hunger today are complex, including political . . . → Read More: Feeding Frenzy

Kraftwork cut out

The CEO of Kraft hints that the Cadbury approach to the social – and enviornmental – bottom lines may not be dead.

According to her, not only are reports of job deaths ‘greatly overstated’, but there is likely to be some activity building public-private partnerships in the developing world.

Kraft will have its work cut . . . → Read More: Kraftwork cut out

Is responsibility worth protection?

The Cadbury family lament the passing of ‘their’ family business into foreign hands. And there is much hand-wringing from all, including the Business Secretary. But ‘nothing can be done’, because to do so would be protectionism, and might lead to obstacles in UK companies taking over others…

When companies take each other over, there are . . . → Read More: Is responsibility worth protection?

Quality Conlusion?

The FSA website claims that there are “no important differences in the nutrition content, or any additional health benefits, of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food”.

However the research on which this claim is based does support this statement. Its conclusions say that there is “no evidence of health benefits from consuming organic . . . → Read More: Quality Conlusion?