When we said the other day (here) that the grouse-shooting industry was seriously rattled by Chris Packham’s video about Marks and Spencer’s decision to sell red grouse, we underestimated their fury.
Here’s the video again, in case you haven’t seen it:
Yesterday, four organisations (BASC, Countryside Alliance, Moorland Association and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation) united in their efforts to silence Chris by publishing a joint statement calling for the BBC to ‘rein in Packham’.
It’s quite an entertaining statement, full of faux outrage about a perceived breach of BBC impartiality, even though they acknowledge that Chris’s video is a “non-BBC video” and that Chris is “not always directly employed by the BBC“. According to one of the furious complainers (Charles Nodder of the NGO), any public comments made by Chris “are indivisible from the BBC“. Eh? Mr Nodder clearly doesn’t have a very high opinion of the general public if he thinks we can’t distinguish between a personal view of a part-time presenter and that of the BBC!
Calling on the BBC to ‘rein him in’ and demanding that the corporation ‘withdraws support’ for Chris’s supposed “extremist propaganda” is basically a call for the BBC to sack Chris. Haven’t we been here before?
Let’s just be clear. This is less to do with the grouse-shooting industry’s concerns about BBC impartiality but more to do with them wanting to silence an articulate, thoughtful, well-informed and popular ‘celebrity’ to prevent him expressing views on the disgraceful and damaging aspects of driven grouse shooting. These views are obviously the polar opposite of those held by the grouse-shooting industry and thus are labelled by them as ‘extreme’. Gosh, there are a lot of ‘extremists’ in the UK at the moment – over 56,000 so far!
The BBC has responded by issuing the following statement:
“Chris Packham is a naturalist in his own right and is not solely employed by the BBC. If Chris Packham wishes to express his personal views outside of his employment on BBC natural history programmes, he is entitled to do so.”
Meanwhile, the grouse-shooting industry’s futile attempts to stick the knife into Chris may well have backfired. Their efforts have been picked up by at least two national newspapers (Telegraph – here; Daily Mail – here), thus giving far more exposure to Chris’s video and the ban driven grouse shooting campaign than we could hope to reach. So cheers to them for that!
In the Telegraph article, it emerges that Iceland Foods stores are not planning to sell red grouse this year. Perhaps they’ve realised that selling meat that contains lead levels 100 times higher than those allowed in other meats isn’t that good for their customers’ health, or for business. Well done to them. Iceland 1: Marks and Spencer 0.
Meanwhile, M&S continues its plan to sell red grouse this year, ignoring the facts that shot red grouse sourced from some driven grouse moors are unhealthy, unnatural and unethical. They may contain:
- Excessive amounts of toxic poisonous lead (over 100 times the lead levels that would be legal for other meat – see here)
- Unknown quantities of the veterinary drug Flubendazole (see here)
- Unknown quantities of the veterinary drug Levamisole hydrochloride (also used in chemotherapy treatment for humans with colon cancer – see here)
- Unknown quantities of the pesticide Permethrin (used topically to treat scabies and pubic lice; probably not that great to ingest – see here)
- They may also be infected with the disease Cryptosporidiosis (see here).
It is up to M&S to demonstrate that their red grouse have been ethically sourced from an estate where raptors are not illegally poisoned, trapped or shot, and that their red grouse have been rigorously tested for the above chemicals. So far, they’ve refused to do this, and their friends in the grouse-shooting industry don’t seem to be encouraging them to be open and transparent either. Can’t think why.
If you’d like to encourage M&S to be open and transparent about its policy to sell red grouse this year, please consider sending an email to Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, the man in charge of M&S’s ‘Plan A’ (basically its policy on ethical product sourcing). You might want to ask him the name of the estate from which M&S is sourcing its red grouse, how M&S has ensured that this estate is run ethically, legally and sustainably, and what tests M&S will conduct to ensure the red grouse for sale on its shelves do not contain high levels of toxic lead and other chemicals and pesticides as listed above. Email Patrick at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You might also want to join Chris Packham and 56,000+ people who have already signed the petition to ban driven grouse shooting – HERE.