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November 2002

              "Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days,
Keep you tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."


"Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

(James 3.18)

"Some people think of it (prayer) as the means by which we get God to do things for us.. That is not the primary purpose of prayer. The primary purpose is to bring the whole of life into the presence of God for cleansing and decision-making."

(Selwyn Hughes)

Friday 1st November

"Our right to live, to be free and to be at peace is not guaranteed by any act of violence. It can be guaranteed only by our willingness that all other persons should live, be free and be at peace - and by our willingness to use and give our own lives to make that possible." (Wendell Berry). Pray that Christians everywhere may stand up and be counted in the struggle to avert war in the Middle East.

Saturday 2nd November

"To achieve peace by peaceable means is not yet our goal. We cling to the hopeless paradox of making peace by making war.. What could be more absurd than our high moral outrage against other nations for manufacturing the same weapons that we manufacture? The difference, our leaders say, is that we will use these weapons virtuously, whereas our enemies will use them maliciously - a proposition that too readily conforms to a proposition of much less dignity: that we will use them in our own interests, whereas our enemies will use them in theirs." (Wen del Berry). Pray that the present confrontation will bring nearer the day when all nations agree to give up the use of force as a means of settling disputes.

Sunday 3rd November

God of all grace, call to the nations of the earth to cease from strife, that all may join to fight not one another but their common foes of want and ignorance, disease and sin. Lead humankind out of the way of death into the way of life; and from destruction to the building up of a new wold of righteousness and peace, of liberty and joy. End the dark night of lies and cruelty; bring in the dawn of mercy and truth (Week of Prayer for World Peace)

Monday 4th November

US Congressman Dennis Kucinich has won support of 43 fellow congressmen in proposing the creation of a US Department of Peace and a ban on weapons in space. His bill proposes new structures to help create peace in homes, neighbourhoods and cities. It aspires to create conditions for peace worldwide. It considers the conditions that lead people to become terrorists - issues of poverty, scarcity and exploitation. "We can achieve this practical vision of peace if we are ready to work for it. People worldwide need to meet with like-minded people, about peace and nuclear disarmament, now. People worldwide need to connect with each other on the Web, for peace, now." Letter responses can be addresses to Charity 11808, Loraine Avenue, Cleveland OH44111, USA, or email or visit

Tuesday 5th November

John Bunzl in "The Simultaneous Policy" puts forward the view that as humans see the threats arising from unbridled competition they will move towards co-operation - a process that has bee going on throughout evolution. He refers to a bill introduced by US Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes calling for the abandonment of nuclear weapons "when all nuclear states do likewise." There comes a point, he believes, when enough people and countries agree that they will not allow international competition to determine their policies and, from that point, there will be a revival of interest in politics. As the threats of negative competition grow, fuelling terrorist activity a cross the world, with them will grow the chances that countries and people will finally face the prospect of disaster and act together in a way that will avert it.

Wednesday 6th November

"The survival of the fittest" and "It's a jungle out there" are slogans used by those who argue that ferocious competition is the natural order of things and that fiercely competing businesses are the best route to economic success. Yet ecologists find little evidence to support this view of nature. Instead, many species are adapted to share an environment in space and time with little or no conflict. Species evolve and adapt to evade or minimize direct competition with others by occupying separate "niches". It is a sad irony, say ecologists Tony Stabbing and Gordon Heath, that "niche" has becomes almost a perjorative word in business, whereas in nature it is the key to stability and survival. Achieving this in a world where the economy is driven by the warfare of competition is a tough task. "We could start by rejecting policies that encourage competition and confrontation - and learning the real lessons of nature: that the path of co-operation is less wasteful, more efficient and more sustainable. Only by pursuing it will we be truly "fit to survive".

Thursday 7th November

In "Eco-economy: Building and Economy for the Earth" Lester Brown, Founder of the Worldwatch Institute, warns that unless we can re-engineer our economy to take account of ecological principles and limits, economic decline is inevitable. The key issue is the shifting of taxes from productive activity, such as income to destructive activity, such as the release of carbon emission. Only then will prices reflect the true costs, consumers will act accordingly and environmental degradation be reduced. He is optimistic because even businesses are beginning to realise that the health of the economy is ultimately determined by the health of the environment. It is, he believes, not altruism but self-interest that will facilitate change. (Perhaps however self-interest without a moral imperative is but a poor guide)

Friday 8th November

The Funding Network is a group which meets quarterly at the RIBA, London, to introduce the needs of small charities to those willing to commit at least 1000 a year, Its aims are:
  1. to act as a marketplace where people can bring projects that work towards a fairer, healthier and more sustainable world;
  2. to provide a setting where those inclined to fund such projects can meet those who are doing the work;
  3. to promote social change, enabling those who have much to share their wealth in creative ways, so enriching the giver as well as the receiver
Contacts: The Funding Network, 83 Belsize Park Gardens, London NW3 4NJ. Tel.0207 586 1442. E-mail: or visit

Saturday 9th November

Today is the 25th anniversary of the death of Fritz Schumacher. Supporters of the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) are meeting today at Queen Mary College, London, to celebrate the life of their founder and to ask "Is Small Still Beautiful?" There are workshops on "Energy for all", "Putting dignity into urban life", "Can new technology be appropriate technology?" etc. For details contact Carol Reesby, ITDG, Bourton-on-Dunsmore, Rugby CV23 9QZ.

Sunday 10th November

God of all beauty, whose will it is that all your creatures should enjoy the world and the life you have given us; we know that many are unable to do this through hunger, poverty, disease, oppression, ignorance or sin. Let us never rest content in your joys until we have done everything in our power and by your grace to help others to share them also. (George Appleton)

Monday 11th November

A report from the UN Environment Programme Finance initiative admits that the Kyoto Protocol does not go nearly far enough in tackling climate change and says that "policy makers must reach consensus on a global framework for climate stability based on precaution and equity." Global damages from weather events are doubling every ten years and will reach $150 billion in the next decade. It recommends that financial institutions "should incorporate climate change considerations into all their business processes" but notes that "many are unaware of the gravity of the issue, or see no financial reasons to tackle it." FoE comments: "If the financial sector takes this report seriously, chief executives will stop investing in fossil fuels and start lobbying President Bush to reverse his disastrous position on Kyoto."

Tuesday 12th November

An FoE analysis of pollution data from the Environment Agency shows that cancer-causing chemical pollution from Britain's biggest factories fell by one-fifth last year, yet almost 8,000 tonnes of cancer-causing gases are still released in a year, of which 1,303 tonnes come from Ineos Chlor at Runcorn, 894 from Associated Octel at Ellesmere Port and 773 from Glaxo at Ulverston. On Teesside however pollution levels fell by less than 10% last year and have fallen by only 23% since 1998.

Wednesday 13th November

The Irish Government has taken legal action against Britain in the Court of Arbitration at The Hague in order to stop the production and transportation of dangerous MOX nuclear fuel. The case is based on the non-disclosure of information by the British Government during the authorization of the MOX plant. Greenpeace comments: "The UK Government has been rightly dragged into an international court over its obsessive and secretive support for a nuclear business that makes no economic sense. This business will lead to massive radioactive contamination of the environment, and puts into global commerce thousands of kilograms of bomb-usable plutonium."

Ireland is also pursuing a legal case against the UK and the Sellafield MOX plant at the International Tribunal for the UN Law of the Sea. It is due to be heard next year.

Thursday 14th November

An agreement between the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Authority, both UN organizations, says: "Whenever either organization proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organization has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter." In effect, the WHO (which is responsible for world health) does no research on radiation unless the project is approved by the IAEA, which promotes nuclear power and is dominated by the nuclear industry. And once WHO has compiled the report, the results of its findings have also to be cleared by the IAEA. Alice Slate, President of Global Resource Action Center for the Environment, believes this explains why a multi-million dollar Long Island Breast Cancer study neglected to test for the effects of radiation from the nuclear power plants that surround the island. Who can we trust? Quis custodiet custodes?

Friday 15th November

The tstetse fly and its trypanosome parasite cause the death of 3 million African livestock a year with annual losses of $4.5 billion to agriculture, and between 300,000 and 500,000 cases of sleeping sickness to humans. The IAEA is to rear and sterilize with a blast of cobalt-60 radiation tens of billions of male tsetse flies so as to crowd out the wild fertile males and cause populations to crash by releasing the flies in thousands of aircraft sorties. Hans Herren, Director of Nairobi's International Centre for Insect Physiology, says it is a crazy idea: "There are so many tsetse that you are bound to miss a few. Populations will regenerate and you are back to square one - only a lot poorer." There are 22 different species of tsetse, each requiring separate treatment. The biggest problem will be re-invasion of flies from neighbouring bush into cleared areas. Current treatment is to use boxes on four legs with screens impregnated with cow odour to deceive the flies: in a Zimbabwe experiment in the late 80s only four boxes per hectare were enough to cut the fly population to almost zero. The difficulty lay in ensuring that local people maintained the tsetse lures once the fly ceased to be a problem.

Saturday 16th November

A Government Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in Food and Consumer Products (COT) recommends better monitoring of people's exposure and taking account of mixtures of pesticides in the regulatory process. However, COT admits that it is difficult to work out exposure from food residues and that information about other routes of pesticide exposure is "extremely poor or non-existent". Yet many pesticides are used in home and garden products, pet treatments, head louse treatments, paints and carpets. Testing of mixtures of pesticides could take decades, while people's health remains at risk. FoE calls on the Government to:
  • phase out organophosphates, carbamates and pesticides known to have hormone-disrupting effects, and
  • research and develop alternatives to chemical pesticides funded by a tax on pesticides themselves.

Sunday 17th November

Forgive us, Lord, for the damage we have done to the earth.
Forgive us that the rivers and seas have been polluted by the waste of our civilization.
Forgive us that the air has been turned foul by burning fuel and radioactive emissions.
Forgive us that flowers, fauna and wild creatures have become extinct through our relentless invasion of their natural habitat.
Forgive us that we have often valued profit more than the quality of the environment in which people have to live.

(Further Everyday Prayers)

Monday 18th November

In a recent NOP survey of 1000 people 57% said they didn't want the Government to allow GM crops to be grown commercially. More than 50 local authorities have backed the 5-year Freeze Campaign on the commercial growing of GM crops. By declaring themselves a GM-free zone local authorities can:
  • ensure that no GM crops are grown on land which they control;
  • adopt a GM-free policy for all goods and services (including school meals) for which the council is responsible;
  • ask the Government, under a new European law, to designate GM crop-free areas.
FoE comments: "The Government will soon decide whether to allow GM to be grown commercially. If it decides in favour, there will be widespread GM contamination of crops, food and the environment. In that case people will no longer be able to choose non-GM food."

Tuesday 19th November

Since EU governments began testing imported seeds, GM contamination has dropped to below 0.1%, the lowest detectable limit. Now a new directive proposes an upper threshold of 0.3% contamination for rapeseed, 0.5% for maize and 0.7% for soya. All the UK nature conservation agencies in a joint report warn that the ecological impacts are poorly understood and could lead to the creation of GM superweeds which may lead farmers to use more herbicides, resulting in increased damage to biodiversity. GM crops could cross with wild relatives leading to disruption of native ecosystems and the development of weediness in native species. The threshold for oilseed rape (0.3%) would mean that up to 10,000 GM seeds per hectare might be inadvertently grown. Once GM contamination of the food chain was established, people could no longer choose GM-free food.

Wednesday 20th November

The Oxford Research Group is today hosting a seminar at the Royal United Services Institution, London, on "War with Iraq: consequences, Risks and Alternative Strategies", with contributions from a panel of experts. Pray for all those attending the seminar and that a way may be found to avert a new Middle East war. For details ring 0865 242819 or fax 01865 794652 or e-mail

Thursday 21st November

The biotech industry claims that hungry millions across Africa, Asia and Latin America would welcome GM crops if they were available at a fair price. Yet citizens' juries in Brazil and India have revealed widespread doubts. In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh a jury sat for over five days and heard 13 witnesses including a top scientist from the biotech firm Syngenta. The jury unanimously opposed GM crops including Vitamin A rice and Bt cotton, as well as the displacement of millions of small farmers and the land consolidation and mechanization that would drive many labourers into destitution. What they wanted was "to maintain healthy soils, diverse crops, trees and livestock and to build on our indigenous knowledge, practical skills and local institutions." Their report can be seen at

Friday 22nd November

When the US Government ruled Starlink GM maize as unfit for human consumption because it triggered serious allergic reactions, more than 300 contaminated food products had to be withdrawn from US stores, costing the food industry millions of dollars and some key export markets. Now the contaminated maize is being sent by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to poor countries including Bolivia, Guatemala and Nicaragua. FoE Nicaragua comments: "It is unacceptable that the children of Nicaragua are consuming genetically-modified products that come masked as food aid for our country."

Saturday 23rd November

Tesco is the first UK supermarket to stock a range of recycled pencils, pencil cases, rulers and mouse mats. Remarkable (Pencils) Ltd. Now supplies pencils made from plastic cups, rulers from computer printer parts and pencil cases and mouse mats from recycled tyres. They can turn 20,000 throwaway cups a day into pencils.

Sunday 24th November

We thank you, Father, for the men and women of resource and determination who have taken a lead in the struggle to protect your creation from exploitation and degradation. Help us in our turn to give of ourselves, not counting the cost, for the sake of your Son who died to redeem us.

Monday 25th November

According to a Eurobarometer survey run for the European Commission, 94% of people questioned want the right to know whether they are eating GM foods. The campaign to convince the public that GM foods are good for them is detailed in "Trust us: we're experts: how industry manipulates science and gambles with your future" by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber (ISBN 1-58542-139-1), A UK minister is reported to have said of the commercial growing of GM crops: "Don't be in any doubt, the decision is already taken." FoE spokesman Adrian Bebb comments: "The Government needs to make a decision: either we grow GM crops or we don't, there is no third way. GM crops will contaminate all other forms of farming, so we will be left with no choice. The public's right to choose must be central to this decision. If the Government forces GM crops into our fields against our wishes, there will be a complete breakdown in democracy."

Tuesday 26th November

Bananas are the fourth most important staple crop in the world. Over 85 countries produce them, providing a livelihood for millions of people. But since a WTO ruling in July 2001, EU countries can no longer give preferential treatment to former colonies in the Caribbean. Only 3 out of 10 of UK bananas now come from the Caribbean, the rest come from plantations in Central and South America belonging to US-based multinationals. Farmers in the Windward Islands who cannot compete in price are working with the Henry Doubleday Research Institute to develop organic banana production which will command a premium price. Pray for all who are striving to preserve the livelihoods of small farmers in the face of increasing competition in world markets.

Wednesday 27th November

A new governmental "Action Plan to Develop Organic Food & Farming in England" aims to increase the market share of UK-produced organic food from 30% to 70%, it encourages public bodies to buy organic food, it regionalises food production and commits the Government to making support payments to farmers after they have converted to organic production. There is no target date for any of this and only Waitrose and Sainsburys have set targets for increasing the UK organic food that they sell. Further suggestions for action are available from: Sustain, 94 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF.

Thursday 28th November

In Mali less than 5% of the people are served with electricity, the rest use wood and charcoal. So trees are being cut faster than they can regenerate, soils are eroding away and women have to walk ever further to collect wood. Mali-Folkecenter has installed solar panels in 23 villages to maintain lighting systems in schools; in 3 villages health centres and water pumps are being powered by photovoltaic cells. Families are encouraged to use biogas from animal waste for cooking and to process the seeds of a common hedge plant, jatropha, to provide oil as a diesel substitute to power agricultural equipment. It is also working internationally for the creation of a UN agency for the transfer of renewable energy technologies from North to South. For more information write to Mali-Folkecenter, BP E4211, Bamako, Republic of Mali,  or visit

Friday 29th November

One of the principles of the ZERI Foundation (Zero Emissions Research Institute) is that the more locally-integrated a system, the more efficient. In Ecuador many mangroves have been destroyed to make way for intensive shrimp farms, destroying also the algae which are the shrimps' natural food, so that imported slaughterhouse waste has to be used as a substitute. Now farmers are replanting mangroves: the algae return, so do the shrimps. Parasitic flowering plants among the mangroves provide a rich source of nectar for local bees, so that farmers are now getting 75 kg. of honey per beehive compared with 7.5-10 kg. previously. Pray for all who are working to spread awareness of the resources available from natural ecosystems.

Saturday 30th November

The UK's first "Earthship" has been built in Fife, Scotland, using discarded tyres. The building's heat, power and water are provided by the sun and natural rainfall. A second "Earthship" is due to be built in Brighton next year. For more information ring 01592 891884 or visit


The Ecologist
Green Futures.
The Organic Way

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Philip Clarkson Webb
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