MY blood boiled when I read of the decision of the Scottish Government (Campaigners praise plan to ban GM crops, The National, August 10). What was the evidence to bring it to the conclusion that a ban should be placed on the growing of genetically-modified (GM) crops? Can they point to anyone or any beast that has suffered from the growing of GM crops that have been on the market for two decades and which are now in one form or another in the products that we buy every day?

Crops are being engineered to make them more drought–resistant, more able to survive attacks by viral and bacterial diseases, more able to flourish in poor soils. By making crops disease resistant they reduce the need to spray them with chemicals which are expensive and, in some cases, damage the environment and humans.

There is no reason why GM and non-GM crops can be grown in the same country; the Government can introduce a minimum area of separation between the two so that the GM crops do not contaminate the non-GM ones. After all, non-organic and organic crops are grown in this country so why not GM and non-GM?

As to the organic food industry, why on earth should it be harmed by GM crops being grown in Scotland? I did not vote for the SNP so that they we would depend on traditional methods to make our way. Are we just to be tourist entertainers wearing kilts and Glengarry bonnets?

Callum Christie

I WRITE to congratulate Michael Gray on a well balanced article about GM crops (Reasoned GM debate is lost in a sea of voices, The National, August 11). There are indeed legitimate reasons for opposing GM crop growing which are not based on a misplaced suspicion of “unnatural” GM science.

The two main reasons are, firstly a wish to avoid a monoculture dependency – a reliance on a single crop type leaving us (and the world) susceptible to a wide-spread simultaneous crop failure; and secondly the danger of a slavish subservience to a small number of global corporations who have shown themselves to lack social responsibility.

I hope that the ban imposed on GM crop growing by Scottish farmers will not curtail scientific research (in Scotland) on GM agriculture. We need expertise in this field. But a ban on growing such crops, for the present, seems to me to be a sensible precaution.

Hugh Noble

GLASGOW Council in its refusal of the application by Hope Over Fear for a public rally in George Square on September 19 cites the police fear of public disorder as a Loyalist organisation has lodged a similar application for the same day.

There have been several similar rallies held there since the referendum by pro-independence groups with no threat whatsoever to public order. If the police suspect that this rally may be different they should state their reasons publicly and identify the source of the potential disorder.

Even fervent Unionists would suspect that the source of this disorder lies within the ranks of the Neanderthals who expressed delight in their victory in last September’s referendum in time-honoured fashion – by mindless violence.

It appears that a religious sect, despite its history of sectarianism, can hold a “fest” in George Square, with no objections from the police, yet a group of citizens with no history of violence or disorder is deemed too risky.

Or is this a convenient way for the Glasgow Labour administration, smarting after the humiliation of the General Election debacle, to put one over the independence movement?

James Mills

I FAIL to see why the SNP putting a future independence referendum clause in their manifesto is such a big issue.

The simple fact is that the people of Scotland have the right to decide when the Union should be dissolved, for any reason!

If a wife does not need to seek her husband’s permission to apply for divorce, then we sure as hell don’t need to seek permission from David Cameron or the Westminster Parliament to hold another referendum. We need to get beyond this Unionist mindset that we are serfs and only allowed to ask questions about our future with their permission.

The SNP could firmly establish their position on any further referendum with an open clause saying: “The SNP believe that the people of Scotland have the right to determine the country’s future by holding a referendum on independence, at any time and for any reason where and when they feel that the Act of Union is no longer the will of the people of Scotland.”

It is that simple: we should never be bound for a generation, even the stupidest of people who grasp the concept that a nation can decide its future at any point, can’t expect a generation of people to sit back and suffer the manipulation, destruction and exploitation that Westminster inflicts or could inflict on Scotland.

I do believe that Scotland will become independent but it will not be until the nation is mobilised and we see gatherings, marches and peaceful protests on par with what happened in India. When a hundred thousand people march to the sea to make salt then the Union will be at an end.

Mark Breingan

IN the tragic story of Karen Buckley’s murder (“A cowardly, vicious criminal who is truly evil”, The National, August 12) one feature stands out: the tremendous work done by Police Scotland in solving the case within one week.

In recent months the Scottish police have come under intense criticism, some of it perhaps warranted, as in the case of the M9 crash, from politically-motivated quarters. Labour and LibDem politicians are quick to jump on the bandwagon of criticism of Police Scotland because, for them, it is a proxy for berating the Scottish Government. I look forward to their expressions of profound thanks and admiration for Police Scotland in its professionalism and ability to solve Karen’s murder so quickly.

Is anyone really in doubt that most of the time the police are doing their level best to prevent and solve crimes? And in any case, in this instance, credit where credit is due.

Jim Walker
Hong Kong

ON August 11, BBC Newsnight showed a film about the killing of Farkhunda in Iran by a lynch mob after she was falsely accused of burning the Koran. I could not sleep after witnessing this horrific act in the name of religion. If there is a god he is very cruel to allow atrocities such as this.

Religions throughout the world including Christianity have perpetrated these horrors. We know that wars are wrong but we still have men of religion blessing those who go to war, destroying other countries. When will this madness stop?

The books of religion were probably written by men who were in extremely violent times in their societies, or maybe just intoxicated. We have no knowledge of why these scriptures were written. We would not take a modern writer’s word as the truth so why should we assume that the holy books hold the truth?

As we become more educated we throw off religion and use reason. I have never needed religion to make me a person who loves people. I know that most religious people will have abhorred this murder, but it happened because religious leaders have too much power. Did the prophets not warn against making gods of them?

My heart goes out to the parents and loved ones of Farkhunda because they will never recover from this horror. Women throughout history have changed the way society thinks so they have to throw off the chains that religion imposes.

Rosemary Smith
East Kilbride

SOME years ago, while the SNP were still a minority in the Scottish Government, Alex Salmond proposed a local income tax as an alternative to Council Tax, only to be stymied by a Labour/Tory coalition. Ring any bells?

As I recall, he put forward an excellent case for this. Why reinvent the wheel?

There may may be no magic bullet, but there is surely a “silver” one, which should be used on the increasingly regressive council tax forthwith, if not before.

Archie McArthur

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with the headline “Self-reporting at DVLA is not fit for purpose” (The National, August 11).

Driving licences can be obtained by people in their late teens and are not subject to scrutiny until the age of 70, over 50 years later.

Cars have to pass an annual MOT test when they are three years old. If it is deemed that cars must be roadworthy, is it not logical that drivers be assessed as to their fitness to drive?

It is time that the Government, hopefully with all-party support, considered legislation to require all drivers, on a regular basis, to pass a medical fit to drive test.

No doubt there will be an outcry about the cost but we are used to having to pay for necessary documentation eg car road tax, MOT certificates, passports. If such a test makes roads safer then I would suggest it is a cost worth paying.

Thomas L Inglis

I FIND it sad that Robert J Sutherland (Letters, The National, August 11) felt unable to put forward his views on the Ukraine crisis without launching a personal attack on those who hold a different opinion. Articulate debate is best done by sticking to the facts and refraining from emotive language.

S Hutchison

I AM in the habit of leaving my copy of The National in restaurants, buses and the local library. I read it very carefully so that it is in pristine condition.

Yesterday I smuggled my copy into the library – in Alex Salmond’s constituency, left my returned books, did a few errands and came back to see The National being dropped into a recycling box, all before 10.30am.

Is providing a library with a national newspaper considered to be a subversive act? Should I try leaving a copy of The Telegraph or The Sun? Best not print my address or my library card might be rescinded.

Grace Chilles
Address supplied