M&S

imagesDear Marc Bolland

Just a recap really in case you are thinking of selling red grouse meat in your shops this year. Some things that have happened since your excellent decision not to see red grouse meat in your shops last year:

  • I started shopping at M&S again
  • governments, including the EU (and including the UK) decided in autumn last year to phase out lead ammunition – to the best of my knowledge there are no grouse shot in the UK with non-toxic ammunition. Grouse meat can be expected to contain high levels of lead.
  • the Lead Ammunition Group has submitted its report which is widely expected to recommend a move to non-toxic ammunition.  Would M&S want to be seen to start selling grouse meat which could be expected to contain high lead levels under these circumstances?
  • the first Hen Harrier Day was held with rallies at four sites across the UK, involving hundreds of people, to protest against the illegal killing of Hen Harriers by grouse shooting interests in the UK – more such rallies are planned for this year.
  • Selfridges also decided not to sell grouse meat in their food hall
  • 22,400 people signed an e-petition on the government website calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting, making it one of the top 0.5% most-signed e-petitions on that site ever
  • a study from Leeds University showed that intensive grouse moor management leads to increased flood risk (and therefore higher house insurance costs), water pollution (and therefore increased water bills) and increased greenhouse gas emissions. therefore the evidence for lack of sustainability for grouse production has grown since you made your very sensible decision.
  • the RSPB has called for licensing of driven grouse shooting
  • the UK government is still struggling to deal with a complaint to the EU over the protection of blanket bog habitat from damage from over-burning by grouse shooting estates
  • five male Hen Harriers have disappeared from active nests in England this breeding season – foul play is suspected because this type of bird doesn’t just disappear in this way – not all five of them anyway!

All in all, your decision not to sell grouse meat looks a good one as you would be facing increased criticism on all these grounds had you gone ahead. If you were contemplating reversing your decision it would look bizarre, wouldn’t it? The worries about the sustainability of driven grouse shooting have increased since last year, not decreased.

I wonder what you are planning to do?

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10 Replies to “M&S”

  1. Those 5 Hen harriers don't give M&S much room for manoeuvre, do they ? I'm actually going shopping in M&S later today and will continue to do so as long as Grouse stay off the shelves - or there's at least 100 pairs of (successful) HH in England.

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  2. A very valid point. One could of course extend the narrative to question whether the venison produced by culling deer on RSPB sites finds its way into the food chain for human consumption...I guess the powers to be at the RSPB will never be open or brave enough to publicly say.

    Of course if the venison isn't being used then one might find if hard, both morally and ethnically, to justify a charity who's tenet is so biased towards single species management. On the flip side, what right has a charity that shoots deer and puts the meat produced into the food chain to pressure food chains to abdicate from selling game products?

    I guess it's all about balance, right?

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    1. Willow - when I was at the RSPB its Council decided, because venison from RSPB nature reserves was going into the human food chain, that we would switch to non-toxic ammunition. The RSPB tested the alternatives and switched to copper bullets. this was widely reported in the shooting press and talked about at scientific conferences at the time (I think!). It certainly wasn't a secret and the RSPB promoted this approach to other land managers.

      That was certainly five years ago, but may have been even longer ago. why hasn't everyone else done the same? The Forestry Commission? Other estates?

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      1. You've slightly missed the point, although on the subject of ammunition it appears several European countries that banned lead are now in the process of reinstating it. My point was it is more than a tad hypocritical for any serious 'birder' to criticise any food outlet for selling game products whilst the RSPB is culling deer for porported environmental benefits to bird habitats on their sites and then putting the meat into the human food chain, isn't this what M&S did by selling Grouse?

        Surely better this than either allowing shot game to go to waste, or banning Grouse shooting and ipso facto upland management allowing for a decline in Grouse following over population and desease, plus the impact on waders etc?

        Isn't good conservation all about balance?

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        1. Willow - no you are missing the point. I'm not criticising M&S for selling game products - I'm asking them not to sell Red Grouse meat when it can be expected to have high lead levels in it and when they cannot, apparently, guarantee that their suppliers are managing their land sustainably. Read what I wrote again.

          Good conservation is about doing the right thing - obviously!

          You have an interesting email address. I'll send you an email to see if it is real.

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  3. I started shopping at M&S again
    Big deal quite frankly ware you shop is up to you but over paying for food in M&S is your problem you would find if you went to your local butchers bakers and grosseres you would promote the local economy and employment of more people.

    governments, including the EU (and including the UK) decided in autumn last year to phase out lead ammunition – to the best of my knowledge there are no grouse shot in the UK with non-toxic ammunition. Grouse meat can be expected to contain high levels of lead.

    Up to now there has been no start of the propose phasing out of led in the UK buy government or other wise and infact more and more governments who had put a ban on lead ammunition around the world are actually repealing laws to allow and encourage the use of lead again as the alternatives are not seen to be as effective or sustainable.

    the Lead Ammunition Group has submitted its report which is widely expected to recommend a move to non-toxic ammunition. Would M&S want to be seen to start selling grouse meat which could be expected to contain high lead levels under these circumstances?

    LAG has submitted a report and it is now under review but that report to the best of my knowledge and I have quite a bit if information regarding this come across my desk on a daily basis there is little evidence in it to suggest that lead in game meat is a threat to human health. M&S and other food company know that there is more absorbable lead in a bare of chocolate than in a shot red grouse.

    the first Hen Harrier Day was held with rallies at four sites across the UK, involving hundreds of people, to protest against the illegal killing of Hen Harriers by grouse shooting interests in the UK – more such rallies are planned for this year.

    Its good that like minded people get together.

    Selfridges also decided not to sell grouse meat in their food hall

    I wonder how much pressure you and the rspb and other organization had to put on them to do that. I think that you should not encourage this it is tantamount to blackmail (I will not shop there if you sell grouse... for F**K sake grow up you are like a little child) if the public want to buy grouse they should be allowed to if the public don't but it because of your propaganda the the shops wont sell it but if there is a demand then they will why not let the public make their own decisions or are you scared that your arguments bore them and they just want to enjoy a nice supper.

    22,400 people signed an e-petition on the government website calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting, making it one of the top 0.5% most-signed e-petitions on that site ever

    Good for you so thats just over 2% of the RSPB membership could be bothered to sign a petition about something that they are SPENDING millions on trying to fight against I think that speaks volumes perhaps you should spend some money on proper conservation

    a study from Leeds University showed that intensive grouse moor management leads to increased flood risk (and therefore higher house insurance costs), water pollution (and therefore increased water bills) and increased greenhouse gas emissions. therefore the evidence for lack of sustainability for grouse production has grown since you made your very sensible decision.

    the RSPB has called for licensing of driven grouse shooting

    Yet more wasting of public money more jobs for civil servants and less money being spent on actual conservation I am sure you guys have worked out what it will cost please let us know.

    the UK government is still struggling to deal with a complaint to the EU over the protection of blanket bog habitat from damage from over-burning by grouse shooting estates

    I do not know enough about this to comment I will do more research.

    five male Hen Harriers have disappeared from active nests in England this breeding season – foul play is suspected because this type of bird doesn’t just disappear in this way – not all five of them anyway!

    I believe their is only one successful nest sight in that area this year it is very sad but there is a link you are not telling people about is there not? The one site that still has its male is the one site that is not being visited daily by so called conservationists. (I used to breed birds of pray they are VERY susceptible to disturbance we have to breed them often in total seclusion they never if possible see a human) Perhaps that is something you should consider observe from a safe distance!

    I look forward to you posting this comment and your responses to it but I guess you wont

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    1. William - thank you for your comment. Is this you? https://theshotgunchef.wordpress.com/ Really?

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      1. Yes Mark that is me the shotgun chef as you can see I am probably not your kind of person but I am a VERY committed conservationist but I like to know ware my meat comes from.

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        1. William - you seem to be making lots of assumptions about me, I haven't made them about you.

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