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I agree with everything Julia says about the NFU and its bias towards big farm interests.

My own analysis was the same - although I remained a member until their recent performance over FMD pushed me too far. I also agree with her that we need to look closer to home than the EU for the origins of the ills that afflict farming and rural life. [This does not mean that we should not also beware the dangers lurking in the EU and the opportunities that such a vast, undemocratic bureacracy offers to the very same interests that threaten us through our own institutions.]

But while agreeing that the NFU has been skilled at lobbying in the interests of big farms, the lobbyists who have shaped agricultural policy in the UK are not confined to the farming interests of the NFU - indeed more sinister interests are probably using the undemocratic nature of the NFU to suborn the lobbying skills of the NFU. The details of the insidious influence of Enron and the accountancy firm Arthur Andersen illustrate the techniques of legalised bribery which permeate our 'globalised' world. I recommend a glance at the material dealing with Enron on the website No clear policical voice will be raised about the scandal in America or here, because those organisations took care to pay off all the main political parties [I note reports on the BBC Today programme this morning, describing donations to our Labour and Conservative Parties by Enron and Arthur Andersen].

We would be deluding ourselves to believe that Enron is an isolated example. In argriculture, I recall that MAFF was said to rely on panels of 'advisors' consisting almost exclusively from appointees of large scale agribusiness. I am sure that the decision to eradicate the warble fly from the UK herd was influenced by the firms which knew that this apparently laudable blow for animals welfare would result in their selling gallons [sorry, litres] of organophosphates insecticide to the hapless farmers.

The 'science' to which our government choses to defer is entirely that which has been purchased and 'edited' by corporate interests for their own ends. Inconvenient findings have been suppressed or obscured.

There is no simple solution: but above all it is apparent that we need to be sceptical, very vigilant; and to insist on openness and freedom of information.