Letters: gene editing will just perpetuate disastrous factory farming

One quote came to my mind while reading Gene editing would allow for us to create harder farm breeds (News). It is that there is an answer to every complex problem that is simple, clear, and wrong (HL Mencken). Our species has been in many dire situations due to the use of magic bullets, including waves of obesity caused by low-fat diets and cane toad waves in Australia.
Supporting environmentally destructive factory farming would encourage the spread of pathogens that could threaten other animals by making animals resistant to one disease.

One simple genetic switch in a monoculture crop would allow for greater drought resistance. This would have a wide impact on soil ecology, water and nutrient cycles and encourage the continuation of destructive farming practices.

Food security and a healthy planet are not possible without a change in attitude. Instead, we must build our knowledge and understanding of natural systems and innovate to increase genetic diversity and produce healthy soils. This will allow us to provide food security for all people.

Natalie Bennett, Green peer

House of Lords London SW1

Regulators that allow investment in cultured meat production and gene editing could be far more beneficial than backing gene editing to create disease-resistant livestock. If we continue to support intensive, environmentally destructive livestock production, why should we? Clean meat from painless biopsies can provide cheap protein while reducing the need for soy production, polluting our rivers, CO2 emission, animal cruelty, and food miles. It also creates a better working environment.

Christopher Price, chief executive of Rare Breeds Survival Trust

Kenilworth, Warwickshire

Mothers in prison: The plight

The story of the 18-year old woman who was placed on remand for giving birth in isolation in a cell, after her requests for help were denied, and the subsequent death her daughter, makes one wonder how long the imprisonment of young mothers and pregnant women can be justified on safety grounds. (Prison guards receive counselling after the baby dies in the cell, but not the mother, News).

Jane Brighton

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

What was John McDonnell doing?

John McDonnell accuses KeirStarmer of following the Blairite playbook. (Dump the new Labour playbook Keir and create your program for radical change. Comment Tony Blair's Labour brought in the minimum wage, increased investment in schools and the NHS, and reduced inequality while he was in office. Apart from two defeats in general elections, what did Messrs McDonnell & Corbyn accomplish?

Stuart Skyte


Understanding abuse

Lisa Bachelor questions what can be done for Britain to be safer for women (When women will feel safe on the streets?, special Report). The rise in sexual harassment of women and girls, especially, has prompted outrage and fear. There have been recent cases of femicide that have sparked calls for reforms to the law and police response. These changes are needed, and schools must be made aware of the dangers of bullying, harassment, and abuse. However, increased charges and sentencing won't work unless we address the possible causes.

We should ask ourselves why men and boys abuse and assault women and girls. If the victim is not known to the attacker, has the perpetrator a history of viewing pornography and other videos that depict violence against women? Is the victim known to the perpetrator?

Pat Brandwood

Broadstone, Dorset

In Rubens name

I was not surprised to see that a computer analysis of Samson and Delilah, the National Gallery's most prized Samson and Delilah, shows a 91% chance that it isn't by Rubens. (Was Delilah and Samson really painted by Rubens?) AI News says no. Together with Steve Harvey and Sian Hopson, I submitted a gallery report in 1992 that outlined clear stylistic, technical, and documentary evidence against the painting. This report is available, along with a new video summarising the case, at www.inRubensName.org.

Our research has been marginalized and ridiculed in the past and present. Too often, the National Gallery relied on the expertise of a few Rubens experts while overlooking the obvious evidence. It is clear that this controversial work, which was purchased by the gallery for a record amount with public money, was costly. After three decades of deceit, the real issue is the credibility and legitimacy of the entire art establishment.

The gallery had promised in 1997 that they would organize a public discussion on the painting. They have the opportunity to fulfill that promise now, with all the transparency and openness we expect from public institutions.

Euphrosyne Doxiadis


Feminists should work together

Sonia Sodhas' article was refreshing. White feminists are being attacked by other women. There can only one winner, men. Comment These voices are vital to oppose the current vogue that makes white feminists and women the source of all evils. This unappetizing trend is exemplified by Rafia Zakaria's book Against White Feminism.

Over the last 40 years, I have been involved in many feminist activities. These include raising funds for girls education in developing nations and establishing a Sheffield rape crisis center. Many other women are doing the same. It is tragic that ordinary women, like me, who are grassroots activists and bring about radical advances, can be paralysed by guilt and blame. Sodha said that attacking women like us won't ever change the world. We will continue to fight for that change, even though we may have to face ridicule and contempt from Zakarias.

Jo Adams

Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Mistaken identity

I was expecting the article Elite v. plebs (News), about the composition and role of our current government to be about boys who never grew up to become men (Elite v. plebs).

Jennifer Mirdamadi