Jane Midgley Research fellow, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) north
Sir; At a time when one food crisis seems to follow another it is tempting to agree with Tim Lang's argument for food policy to be tackled (The Grocer, 31 May, p23).
It is welcome to see food taking an appropriate part in political and public policy debates, but it is important not to get too carried away. In work soon to be published by IPPR north, we argue that food should be on policy agendas but not be 'the' agenda.
Food is critical to people's lives and livelihoods, at home and overseas. A co-ordinated approach to food policy at the UK level does not exist, but this does not mean that we should try to bring together food-related issues into one long-term, static document, or attempt to create institutions responsible for food.
As Tim noted, an unprecedented number of pressures have converged to impact on food today. But a knee-jerk and myopic political response to food's increased presence in public debates is precisely why we should hold back. Creating a new institution means that food would become 'their' responsibility and nobody else's .
The separation of interests (producer and consumer) risks forgetting the lessons learned from BSE and the creation of the Food Standards Agency. Above all, it is difficult to prioritise and trade off changing food pressures, different interests and their responses, from the obvious (climate change and obesity) to the less obvious (land use and corporate social responsibility), as well as balancing home and global responsibilities.
We should ask what is wanted and how we can get there, but changing the institutional and policy landscape may risk us losing our way.
Organic Trade Board not born yesterday Simon Wright Founder, O&F Consulting
Sir; Your Organics article (The Grocer, 14 June, p39) says the Organic Trade Board was formed last year at the suggestion of the Soil Association. Not so - its genesis was the Food & Drink Innovation Network Organic Summit in 2006, which I chaired.
Older workers are invaluable to sales Trevor Lane Managing director, Mature Sales & Marketing
Sir; As a new subscriber to The Grocer, and a new business in the recruitment sector, we believe that too many recruiters focus on finding candidates under a certain age. This excludes a huge talent bank of experienced sales and marketing practitioners who can fill vacancies immediately and hit the ground running.
If more of the large fmcg companies are reducing their training budgets they will need to fill vacancies with experienced candidates, and our belief that 'experience + expertise = better value' has never been more relevant than it is today!
The 'mature' brand in the appointments sector was established in 2005 by senior managers and executives who found that having a good CV, being out of work and being over a certain age was not a good combination. After nearly three years it has a database of over 2,000 experienced candidates .
We have had great success in advertising more than 275 jobs in the UK and overseas. As we head into economic waters that remind us of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when some of us were selling with high inflation and can even remember trading through Black Monday, many businesses will need help from people who have seen it all before.
Animal cloning for food leaves bad taste Nikki Osborne RSPCA senior scientist
Sir; The RSPCA is totally opposed to cloning for food production on both animal welfare and ethical grounds (The Grocer, Meat & Fish, p50). The cloning process can undoubtedly cause suffering to animals and is purely for commercial benefit. The RSPCA believes this is a misuse of technology that can have a major adverse impact on animal health and welfare so is ethically unacceptable.
If the European Union were to approve cloning for food production purposes, products from cloned animals and their offspring could be on the market within the next few years. The origin of products from clones and their offspring cannot be identified so will not be labelled as such, and consumers will not know what they are buying.
Food from cloned animals may seem a tasty option to some, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth when it comes to animal welfare.
Wholesale problems threaten business Steve Wilson St Teath Post Office & Village Stores, Bodmin, Cornwall
Sir; I am a small independent retailer in North Cornwall suffering from the usual threats: Post Office closure, supermarkets and red tape.
My biggest threat, however, is Booker. Gaps continually appear on my shelves as favourite products are delisted and the most basic of essentials are out of stock, again.
It's frustrating to pay for club deal leaflets only to be told many of the items are unavailable. I have written numerous letters of complaint to Booker but nothing is done .
It would be interesting to hear from other retailers on this subject.