Shorter articles and bulletins


Older articles can be found in the SIRC Archive list.


Run for your life by Dale M. Atrens. "As both No. 10 and the popular press remind us on a daily basis, we are becoming fatter at an alarming rate. According to current projections by next Christmas most of us will show up in aerial photographs."

"We ARE traffic!" — Critical Mass and the politicisation of the bicycle. The loaded symbolism that is associated with the car and the bicycle, and any perceived conflict between the two, is basically irrational. However, it exists, and this is what makes Critical Mass a successful, if amorphous and undefinable, movement.

Soham Voyeurs? — Is the clear and often demonstrated public interest in the details of criminal cases actually an indication of a voyeuristic and amoral culture?

Free for all? — drawing parallels between George Bush's ideal democracy and the political institutions of "The Village".

Killer hamburgers ride again — The Blair government is about to get tough on obesity in children. An emergency salt summit is being held. The hounds of hysteria are baying loudly. The Observer grimly observed "Official: fat epidemic will cut life expectancy." This catchy prediction is a theoretical calculation that flies in the face of easily observable facts. The increase in weight observed in the UK and other western nations is not correctly described as an 'epidemic'. It has been going on steadily for about 50 years as life expectancy has steadily increased.

Little White Lies? — still plenty of sugar chez Blanc.

Dadaist lunacy or the future of protest? — an introduction to the world of flash-mobbing.

Birds on the wire — confronting our phone fears.

Too fat to die? — The US Army, the Battle of the Bulge and the BMI.

Sin, Salvation and Celery Juice — Detox Diets.

Blanc Sour — rewriting theories of human nutrition.

Cheap'n'Nasty — Pornography and processed food.

Totally In ControlThe rise of pro-ana/ pro-mia websites.

Ethics and ecofascism — review of Designer Food: Mutant Harvest or Breadbasket of the World. by Gregory E. Pence

Food Junkies — helpless victims of the fat capitalists?.

The Scientific Divide — Prof. Tom Sanders' speech at the Food Foundation debate.

In praise of bad habits — the ICR lecture.

The fear of acronyms — 3-MCPD and the perils of toast.

Science and agriculture in Africa — an article by Boru Douthwaite of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

Brain and mouth disease — by Lionel Tiger — food and the pursuit of pleasure.

Democracy at work? — shortcomings at the Food Standards Agency.

Vested interests? — public perceptions of organic farming are "mythical"?

2001 — The year of new reason? — Welcome changes in media coverage of health and science issues.

The Tyranny of Health: Doctors and the regulation of lifestyle. A review of Michael Fitzpatrick's new book.

Closing time at the Last-Chance Saloon? Over 10 years ago the then National Heritage Secretary, David Mellor, commented that the behaviour of some parts of the British media was so outrageous that controls on the 'sacred cow' of press freedom were necessary to curb their more extreme activities.

Homocysteine will be 'the new Cholesterol'? SIRC's monitoring of trends in dietary fashions and taboos indicates that meat will be the next nutritional folk-devil. In recent years, fat-bashing and fears about cholesterol, while still popular, have been overtaken to some extent by carbo-phobia and anxiety about 'glycemic load'.

The madness of Prince Charles. HRH Prince Charles' Reith lecture, Respect for the earth — A royal view, has angered and depressed in equal measure the entire science community. His mystical, and at times quite whimsical, views on the sacred status of nature started to make even Vandana Shiva's earlier lecture in the series seem half-way sensible.

Back to nature in India? Vandana Shiva's Reith lecture, Poverty and Globalisation, has predictably increased her standing among elitist, Western, green activist groups and anti-globalisation protesters. At the same time it has depressed many people with a more rational concern for poverty and hunger in the Southern Hemisphere.

Oxfam Hits Back on GM Stance. We reported in November 1999 the attack on Oxfam's position on GM crops made by Vandana Shiva, head of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in New Dehli. (See Oxfam Berated by Eco-Activists) Oxfam have now replied to this seemingly callous criticism, and we are happy to respond to a request by Koos Neefjes, their Policy Advisor, to feature this reply on our web site.

Backlash against the anxiety makers. Our 'Scares and Panics' column on the Mediawatch page usually has space for only a small fraction of the anxiety-generating articles which litter our newspapers every morning. It is difficult to find anything which has unequivocally been declared safe by the 'experts'. Hidden dangers are portrayed as lurking in every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat to the phones we use, and even the pet dog that we love and cherish.

All-American Food Fight. Unnoticed so far by the British media there is what is being described as the "All-American Food Fight" currently in progress in the United States. No, this has nothing to do with genetically modified crops — an issue which keeps the British in constant fear of turning into monsters. No, it is to do with what is normally the rather mundane subject of official dietary advice. With more than 1 in 6 of the American population now officially deemed to be obese, the interest in such things is high.

Oxfam berated by Eco-activists. Oxfam's recent position paper, Genetically Modified Crops, World Trade and Security is a thoughtful and balanced document. It is rightly concerned that the introduction of GM crops in the third world may lead to a consolidation of control of local agriculture by large, agro-industrial companies. It recognises, however, that GM crops, with their higher yields, "could be of benefit to poor farmers in the longer term if applications are directed to their needs."

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