Given, at the last count, there were 10 separate government investigations, commissions or inquiries, all spotlighting issues across the chain, you could be forgiven for thinking that grocery will never be the same again. So no apologies for returning to the subject of food chain unity this week. The unveiling of the mysteriously delayed DTI code of trading practice, plus the penetrating probe by Sir Don Curry's Policy Commission on the Future of Food and Farming, is inevitably refocusing minds. But are those inquiries, ranging from scientific studies surrounding the prevention of infections such as foot and mouth, to the wider scenario of Sir Don's commission, really set to reshape the sector? Will they strengthen the chain, or will they, as some cynics suggest, merely prove to be expensive, time-wasting talking shops with no significant conclusions? And against this background, some observers have signalled their concern at the appearance of what are dubbed furtive environmental fundamentalists' down Whitehall way, all privately bending the ears of Blair, Beckett and Co with the notion that we don't need a strong domestic farming base in this country. If that is the case, it has implications for the whole chain. But, Whitehall plots aside, my straw poll among the major players suggests that most are taking a cautious, yet positive approach to the umpteen inquiries. True, a hopping mad Ben Gill is bending Patricia Hewitt's ear with a view to early reform of the code of trading practice. But relationships along the chain are still improving, despite occasional glimpses of cack-handed government. Major industry bodies have never been closer. But given that the uninformed media and political attacks show no sign of diminishing, it's vital that their chief executives continue to put aside petty, parochial considerations in the cause of unified sector responses. Sure, those 10 inquiries suggest massive change to the chain. But real unity cannot be achieved until all links are able to prosper. And therein lies the challenge. Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}