It has been a while since my last blog entry, but my excuse is that I have been on the road. March and April in the WI means annual council meetings, and this year (as last) I have travelled many miles between different towns and cities, and even across the water to the Channel Isles. It has all been a wonderful adventure- not only seeing new places but also meeting hundreds of members. At these meetings I have the chance to let members know what is going on throughout the WI, not least new developments in the world of its campaigns.
One of those campaigns has been that of saving our honey bees, and yesterday there was a vote as to whether to impose a two year moratorium on certain pesticides, which many suspect to play a part in bee decline. Three species of bee are already extinct and others are in rapid decline, and while the challenges facing our bee population are numerous, including a loss of foraging and changes in the climate, there is strong evidence pointing towards the contribution of particular pesticides. Many scientists and campaign groups have called for these pesticides to be banned, but the last time a vote was taken in the European Parliament, Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment, refused to support a European vote to stop them being used. I am sure many members have since lobbied him, and there was another opportunity for him to vote yesterday. Unfortunately Mr Paterson voted against the ban, but it looks like the European Commission has the mandate they need to go ahead with the ban now. The issue has been widely covered in the news.
Another news item is that of the possibility of cookery and horticulture being included eventually in the school curriculum. This too is an issue in which the WI has played a big part. The WI has long called for cookery to be made a compulsory part of the curriculum and for many years many WI members have undertaken gardening in schools, teaching many children the joys of digging, planting and picking crops of vegetables. Some schools even go on to cook such produce too. The NFWI has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, welcoming the inclusion of cookery in the curriculum and urging him to make gardening a more substantive element of the curriculum. As always, we await developments.
In the latest edition of the Green Alliance newsletter there is an article with the title "Why We Need Landfill Bans", which tells us that recycling wood, plastics, textiles and foods, rather than dumping them in landfill sites, would save the economy £2.5 billion of resources each year. I am fortunate to live in an area that does recycle these items, and since 2006 the WI's campaign to reduce, reuse and recycle has not gone away. When it comes to food in particular, the Love Food Hate Waste campaign is ongoing too and comes into sharp focus with the WI Great Food Debates being held in many areas. This evening I shall be attending my last annual council meeting of the season - that of my own federation.