8 February 2011
The Prince of Wales
Dear Prince Charles
I am writing to you about your Start campaign and the global bee emergency, and because of the serious nature of my concerns, I hope you don't mind my being candid. The specific issue I wish to raise is that, as you point out on page 188 of your new book, Harmony, insecticides are likely to be a contributing factor to the decline of bees, yet two of the main sponsors of the Start campaign, B&Q and Asda (Walmart), sell Provado, Ultimate Bug Killer and other noxious products. In addition, you have appointed a marketing executive, Jo Kenrick, with recent B&Q and Asda (Walmart) background to manage your campaign. I would have thought that her experience of working for one transnational corporation (TNC) after another would indicate a conflict of interest which will undermine her efforts. But at any rate, your Start campaign is in collaboration with TNCs which to me is the same as teaming up with the perpetrators and I wonder what positive message or result could possibly come from it.
I enjoyed your references to spirituality and philosophy in Harmony. I agree that we need to develop this side of our humanity. However, TNCs are legal persons that can only operate in a mechanistic fashion using a linear form of logic with the primary goal of increasing profit. Yet, they have unbridled power and enormous wealth. As positive as the idea is, your Start campaign is reinforcing this rather than seeking to break the chain. For an example of harmony in action, I would humbly recommend The One Straw Revolution (link is to my book review on the Eco Walk the Talk website).
B&Q has put nearly all the local hardware stores out of business, operates in monstrous, ugly, orange and metal buildings that we are expected to drive to, and sells mountains and lakes of toxic products such as Provado. Asda is an even bigger monster. BT and EDF lord over us for vital services. According to the Guardian, these are your top Start campaign associates and they aren't even geared up to helping bees, the mainstay of much of our food, which is in dire straits as it is.
As is well known and discussed in Who Runs Britain by Robert Peston and even on a few recent BBC documentaries, the gap between rich and poor is becoming greater. However, what many people do not seem to realise is that the gap between good food and bad food is becoming smaller. Our global dilemma with respect to our food supply affects everyone and soon no amount of money will be able to secure a wild fish; uncontaminated natural drinking water; fruit, vegetables and grains without chemicals, pharmaceuticals or genetic/nano manipulation; or meat and milk products from animals that are not clones or related to one. This may seem farfetched to some, but one only has to look at the fact that the highly toxic chemical dioxin can be found in living organisms in the remotest parts of the world to realise how interconnected everything is. TNCs are the driving force behind the contamination and destruction of our food.
In keeping with a positive approach, you said at the launch of the Start campaign that you aren’t going to tell everyone to stop doing things. But what are you telling them by joining forces with TNCs that are unsustainable? The message to me is that money is what really matters, which is not a new one.
My vision of harmony, which is shared by many, includes TNCs being broken up into smaller companies which would then be encouraged to develop innovative ideas on how to provide sustainable, affordable products and services to local communities. With TNCs on the scene, individuals and small companies are severely disadvantaged in business and healthy innovative ideas are unlikely to surface or make much of a ripple. Without TNCs, a wave of people creating and buying alternatives would roll in. This is not hard to imagine, but it is unlikely that a highly paid person with close ties to TNCs will volunteer or act on such an idea. In my view, campaigning against TNCs not with them against everyone else would be a better start, for one, to help the bees.
Thank you for considering my thoughts on these issues. I would very much welcome a reply with an explanation that I could also post on my blog. Thank you again.