It would not have mattered if the new food and farming commission had consisted entirely of archbishops and been jointlychaired by the Archangel Gabriel and Mother Teresa. Someone out there would have found fault with its construction. So I suppose we should not be surprised that the National Consumer Council has issued a pathetic press release in which it has admitted to having "some reservation" about the commission being chaired by a farmer, and not someone independent of the food and farming sectors. But surely Sir Don Curry's appointment was far more appropriate than some of the other names which have been banded around Whitehall in recent weeks? Pompous broadcasters with green agendas and even superior celeb chefs were hardly the sort of people needed to head such an important project. And, in any case, it is hard to see what the NCC is complaining about, given that its extremely able chairperson, the well respected Deirdre Hutton, is on the commission. Of course the consumer voice must be heard, and of course it is right to turn a microscope on to the food chain in the light of the foot and mouth tragedy. But to have populated the commission with a group of self- appointed busybodies from a motley group of fringe lobby groups would not have been the answer. This magazine believes Sir Don to be an eminently suitable choice, as are the other appointees, and we await with interest the commission's findings. It has been given a fast-track agenda, but bearing in mind the uncertainties of recent months, it is vital it comes up with constructive conclusions as soon as possible. Unfortunately, as our interview with NFU president Ben Gill shows this week, the terrible acrid smoke of the funeral pyres in the FMD disaster has been replaced by vapour of a different kind the stupifying stench of black propaganda, as unknown forces set out to manipulate the media and denigrate the agri-community. The commission must clear the air. Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}