Nick Brown's assertion in this magazine this week that the supermarket supply chain is not to blame for foot and mouth disease, will please the multiples' head offices. But, in certain other quarters, it will be greeted with dismay. For unseen yet influential forces are encouraging a frenzied media to find virtually any excuse to put the top chains back in the dock. Encouraged by the prime minister's well publicised "armlock" quote and, I suspect, by non-attributable media briefings by branches of New Labour who don't enjoy MAFF's inside knowledge, we're seeing the beginnings of a wider campaign to vilify parts of grocery retailing long before the official inquiry into the FMD tragedy. And now that Friends of the Earth has been leaked a copy of the DTI's draft code of trading practice, the arguments against the perennial issue of multiple power are being revived. Of course, what makes this latest bandwagon all the more surprising is seeing Friends of the Earth jump on board as the unlikely Friends of the Farmers, given that organisation's attitude to intensive agriculture in particular over recent years. But even the NFU, while angry at what appears to be a bid to drive a wedge between agriculture and grocery, is unhappy about some aspects of the draft code. And since some supplier groups are expected to take the same stance, and given we're told certain buyers have recently acted like "jumped up little Hitlers", this is one consultation process which must be especially thorough. But it's unhelpful, even malicious, for unseen forces to stir up trouble between farmers and grocers when relationships are potentially at their best for many a year. However, since some within Whitehall's dark corridors are still smarting at the Competition Commission's largely not guilty' verdict on the multiples, we shouldn't be surprised that the media frenzy is being fuelled from that corner of the political establishment. Once again, the multiples need to watch their backs. Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}