Saturday, 17 October 2009

*Lush supports hunt sabs

The cosmetics company Lush is launching a bubble bath it hopes will raise tens of thousands of pounds for anti-blood sports activists.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association will be the latest beneficiary of proceeds from Lush, the ethical producer of handmade soaps which has gained a reputation for backing radical protest groups.

The citronella and peppermint bubble bath, called The Fabulous Mr Fox, will arrive on the shelves in the coming weeks and will be on sale until Boxing Day, a traditional day for fox hunts. The company hopes the product will raise £50,000 for the activists, and said they money will be used to fund vehicles and video equipment.

Mark Constantine, the 59-year-old co-founder of Lush, based in Poole, Dorset, has previously donated large portions of his profits to human rights groups, the Green Party, animal welfare organisations and environmental protesters such as Plane Stupid, who promote non-violent civil disobedience to opposed airport expansion.

Proceeds from the Lush cosmetics empire, which is thought to be worth around £150m, have also been used to fund campaigns to support Sumatran orangutans and oppose the widening of the M1 motorway. Sea Shepherd, that operates vessels to scupper rival ships it finds whaling in the middle of the ocean, has received £22,000 from the sale of Lush products.

Lush, founded by Constantine in 1995, has become a multinational company, with branches in N. America, Japan and Australia. The company claims to give around 2% of profits to charity and is keen to promote itself as an ethical brand. Constantine said funding activists groups was "central to what we do".

Thursday, 8 October 2009

*Errors by NHS staff led to 5,700 deaths in six months

More than 5,700 patients died or suffered serious harm as a result of staff errors in the NHS over a six-month period, figures showed today.

Figures from the National Patient Safety Agency showed that 459,500 patient safety incidents and near misses occurred in England between last October and March.

This is a 12% increase on the previous six months but the agency, which collects and monitors safety data in the NHS, said that better reporting was fuelling the rise.

Read more on this story in The Times

Millions of pensioners will go cold as energy prices soar

Five million people will avoid switching on their heating to keep warm this winter as they struggle to afford higher fuel bills, according to new research.

Polling of pensioners by the charity Age Concern found that 38 per cent were cutting back on gas and 41 per cent on electricity this year because of fears that they could not afford the prices. With 13 million pensioners in the UK, the charity's findings suggest that 5.2 million people over 60 will go cold at some point this winter.

Read more on this story in The Independent


The South East’s Green Euro-MP launched a new campaign in the European Parliament today to urge EU lawmakers to replace the use of animals in testing and research with non-animal alternatives.

Caroline Lucas MEP, who was recently named the new President of the European Parliament’s influential cross-party Animal Welfare Intergroup, has joined with fellow MEPs to sign a Written Declaration calling for increased funding for the development of alternative methods to animal testing – and a 1% ‘research levy’ on products that contain ingredients tested on animals.

The Written Declaration (1), like an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, will become the official position of the European Parliament if it can attract the support of at least half of all MEPs.

Dr Lucas MEP said: “Since 2007, I have been working with MEP colleagues and animal protection groups across Europe on a campaign urging the EU to replace cruel, unnecessary and misleading animal experiments. The existing law on the use of animals in experiments is over 20 years old, so action on this is long overdue.

“The European Commission has already stated that one of its ultimate aims is ‘to replace animal experiments with methods not entailing the use of an animal’ (2). It must now increase funding for the development and validation of alternative research methods – and make the administrative processes more efficient.

“We propose that the Commission now assesses options for increasing the funds available, including the introduction of a ‘research levy’ of 1% of the selling price of products that contain ingredients tested on animals.”

She continued: "More than 12 million animals are used in EU labs each year, yet experiments on animals can be unreliable as a guide to human biology and the range of viable alternatives, such as epidemiology, the use of cell cultures, human tissue and computer simulation, is increasing all the time.

"The Commission should increase funding, introduce quantitative targets for reducing the number of animals used in experiments, and bring in compulsory inspections of testing facilities in order to dramatically improve standards of animal protection.”