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The human cost of green food

The Technology Quarterly on the Future of Food (October 2) showcased technologies that produce cleaner, greener food in a more humane way, like meat grown in the lab. However, a large group of actors was missing from your analysis: breeders. At the subsistence level and on an industrial scale, pastoralists around the world generate $ 1.3 billion in production per year and support the livelihoods and food security of 1.3 billion people. Among these, the 500 million pastoralists, whose main source of income, culture and life revolves around livestock, are particularly vulnerable to these new technologies.

The future of food is in the hands of regulators and consumers, just like the fate of millions of breeders. Growing meat in a lab can be disastrous for them. It is vital to involve farmers in these new food futures.

Professor of economics
Federation University
Ballarat, Australia

There is a widely held concept that plant-based foods produce less greenhouse gas emissions and cause less animal suffering than grass-fed beef. It is misguided. Belcampo Farms in California, for example, produces carbon-negative beef, with research supporting it. An increasing number of breeders around the world are operating on similar regeneration principles.

Reducing animal suffering by switching to meat substitutes is also questionable. Plant and crop producers employ all kinds of poisons, traps and deterrents against encroachment by wildlife, which impacts surrounding ecosystems and watersheds. During harvesting, field animals such as rodents, rabbits, fawns and nesting birds reliably meet a gruesome end in harvesting machines.


I wonder if the morality of raising animals for food is established. Without the food industry, how many chickens, cows or pigs would there be in the world: thousands, none? Without the food industry, they wouldn’t exist. Dying in a slaughterhouse can be less painful than being torn apart by predators or a slow death from hunger or disease, this is how wild animals die.


French fries weren’t the only thing that helped Europe adopt the potato (“Getting hungry”, October 2). Frederick the Great tried to order the Prussians to grow potatoes, but to no avail; people said they were so bad even dogs wouldn’t eat them. Cleverly, he changed his tactics and declared that the potato was a royal vegetable, grown only in plots guarded by soldiers. Soon the peasants began to steal the potatoes and cultivate them. A useful marketing lesson for those trying to change eating habits in the West and persuade people to eat bugs.

Environmental security
Research group
King’s College London

High Glove

Regarding “The desire to protect” in your special report on trade (October 9), Top Glove would like to update The Economist about its continued efforts and successes in improving its environmental, social and good governance practices, including the resolution of the waiver order issued by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency.

The CBP issued Top Glove with a WRO July 15, 2020. Subsequently, as part of the CBP process, the order was replaced by a Report on March 29, 2021. However, after the CBP had examined in detail the evidence that Top Glove had addressed all indicators of forced labor at its Malaysian facilities, the CBP changed the findings on September 10 and immediately allowed the import of the company’s disposable gloves made at its factories in Malaysia to America.

Senior consultant
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Antimalarial mosquito nets work

Alex Nicholls rightly cautions against focusing on outputs rather than outcomes in philanthropic programs (Letters, October 16). But his example, that anti-malarial mosquito net systems “failed”, is incorrect. Contrary to some reports, few nets are used for fishing. A study in four countries of more than 25,000 mosquito nets found that less than 1% were misused. A comprehensive review by Cochrane, an independent network of researchers, of 23 medical trials involving nearly 300,000 people showed that mosquito nets reduced the number of deaths by a third. A study in Oxford concluded that they prevented an estimated 663 million cases of malaria in Africa between 2000 and 2015. These important results, by charities and others, are to be applauded.

Giving evidence

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Poland and the EU

Charlemagne’s poisonous rhetoric about Poland was based on the false assumption that a Polish court had ruled that “the country’s constitution prevailed over fundamental elements of EU law ”, as“ an ever closer union ”(October 16). The Polish Constitutional Court did not put an end to the controlled provisions of the treaty; they are no exception to the Polish legal system. The judgment uses the phrase “as far as possible”, which means that only certain interpretations of the provisions of the treaty are incompatible with the Polish constitution.

The judgment of the Constitutional Court does not call into question the idea of ​​the principle of the primacy of EU the law, within the limits of the attribution (Article 5 of the Treaty), nor does it imply its general right to be questioned by other authorities. The court is well versed and competent to consider EU law. It ruled on Poland’s Accession Treaty in 2005 and the Lisbon Treaty in 2010. Similar institutions exist in other Member States.

Poland will remain in the EU as a staunch promoter of the open single market, free trade, industrial policy, enlargement policy, eastern partnership, border control and an adequate budgetary response to a post-covid Europe. Turn your attention to other European capitals if you are looking for a gap between the pro-EU declarations and acts.

Konrad Szymanski
Minister for European Union Affairs

Liberals can become conservatives

Your Graphic Detail Algorithm on Interstate Political Migration in America (October 16) ignores the distinct possibility that latte-loving liberals will become gas-guzzling gun enthusiasts in the face of the borderline reality of Alaska, Montana and other red states.


Reply to an e-mail

Bartleby’s column on How to Write a Great Out of Office Reply (October 9) reminded me of my favorite out of office message: “You are getting this automated reply because I’m out of the office on vacation.” . If I had been in the office, you probably wouldn’t have received any response.

new York

This article appeared in the Letters section of the print edition under the title “On food technologies, Top Glove, malariaal bed nets, Poland, Liberals, email”

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