Cheap Milk & the ‘Lidlisation’ of shopping

Decent food isn’t cheap, and if the ‘Lidlisation’ price wars continue it could mean the end of grass-fed cows in our fields

Lidl, Asda, Aldi and Iceland have now cut the cost of milk to 89p for four pints, making milk cheaper than most mineral water. This is astonishing, given that milk is a food that is the end product of a slow, costly, and, hopefully, careful process of rearing animals and their fodder. No wonder the British dairy industry is now looking at ruin.

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Can you hurt a chimp’s feelings?

Video footage claiming to show chimps ‘grieving’ has sparked new debate over the ethical treatment of animals – but we should beware of jumping to conclusions

Is it an invasion of privacy to film an animal in its burrow? Or a whale as it exhibits its penis in a courtship display? Or to use a remote camera to film a bear giving birth in its den? According to a film studies lecturer from the University of East Anglia, it could be. If an animal retreats to its burrow, it obviously doesn’t want to be seen, he claims. Unlike the inhabitants of the Big Brother house, these creatures have not given consent. These assertions are a step further along the line from a cautionary ethical approach towards taking care not to disrupt wild behaviour. Instead, Brett Mills appears to be claiming that human emotions can be assumed within animals as well.

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‘Grieving’ chimps need rigorous study

Chimpanzee images have been presented as proof they share human emotions. Be wary of such speculative observation.


Who could have seen, and not been moved by, the video shown this week of a group of chimpanzees apparently mourning the death of Pansy, an elderly member of their troupe? The chimps gathered around her, moving her bedding gently and apparently checking her breathing. The video accompanying a report in the journal Current Biology was offered to support the idea that chimpanzees share human emotions like grief. Last year an equally striking image had shown a group of chimpanzees watching as the body of one of their group was carried off. The chimps stood silently, their arms around each other’s shoulders, apparently consoling one other.

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Fakery and Ethics in Wildlife Programmes: Natural History on Television

It is now nearly 40 years since the release of the Disney film White Wilderness, famous for its sequence showing thousands of lemmings committing mass suicide by throwing themselves off the top of a cliff. Controversy struck when scientists explained that wild lemmings do not, in fact, behave in this way. But that was nothing to the furore when it emerged that the entire sequence had been staged. The supposedly suicidal Norwegian lemmings were in fact pushed off a cliff under a bridge in Calgary, Alberta. Their carcasses were later scooped up from the Bo River and frozen for later scenes.

White Wilderness is often held to represent the bad old days of wildlife film -making, and since then natural history has slowly moved out of the realm of the Hollywood feature film and into television, where it is seen to be in the safe hands of people such as our own David Bellamy and Richard Attenborough. From the security of the science-based, educationally-driven format, the producers are believed to be caring, principled individuals who would never countenance the atrocities and inaccuracies represented by White Wilderness.
So would it surprise you to discover that sequences in the high-profile, high -budget Wildlife Special series currently being shown on BBC1 were filmed in captivity or with hand-reared animals? Such practices are in fact more common than is often believed, and go to the heart of an ethical debate that is ruffling feathers in a usually complacent world, where wildlife film- making is championed as broadcasting’s darling, its house very much in order. Produced and presented mainly by scientists or passionately committed experts, it has maintained its educational remit while simultaneously making the move into high-quality, dramatic entertainment. Not only has it survived the transition to an increasingly competitive and deregulated television market, but it seems to be flourishing. Natural history now has several dedicated satellite channels and continues to have a high profile in the schedules of terrestrial channels. Somewhere in the evening’s schedules, you can be guaranteed charismatic mega-fauna, dramatic predation sequences, remarkable special effects, exquisite, high-definition photography, the latest discoveries and endless revelations. The only problem clouding the horizon would seem to be that the supply can hardly keep up with the demand.

But last year, ripples of unease were sent through this otherwise rather insular world when the Denver Post re-ported serious allegations against veteran wildlife film producer Marty Stouffer that he not only faked scenes but mistreated animals…

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Fakeryand Ethics in Wildlife Programmes