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Murky business

Thank you for your considered Big Story on China (NI 522). I read with interest ‘Living in a ghost world’ which outlines the persecu­tion and privations suffered by the Uyghur people in Xinjiang. I feel that news and reportage from the region cannot expose the true horror of what is afoot due to the clampdown by the Chinese authorities.

Forced labour in internment camps in the region has led to calls to boycott cotton from Xinjiang – the territory produces over 80 per cent of the country’s cotton. However, tracing back the links is proving extremely difficult as cotton products from the region get shipped to garment producers in other countries in South Asia like Bangladesh and Vietnam, often ending up as ready-to-wear items on the racks of high-street clothing brands in the West with the consumer none the wiser. When the clothing is being made by manufacturers in China the connection – after investigation – to internment camp forced labour may be a bit more apparent, such as when Badger Sport dropped its Chinese supplier Heitan Taida Apparel for this reason. I hear that there are moves to develop technology to mark the origins of cotton from various parts of the world that could help. The fact remains that transparency in production chains is a problem that needs far more attention in our globalized world.

D Smith Nottingham, UK

Next generation

Your short piece (Reasons to be cheerful, NI 522) regarding the UK Labour Party’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 was rightly a little sceptical (‘While conference decisions must be taken with a pinch of salt...’). Since then, as reported in The Guardian, the Labour Party began to rein back on that decision by making it more of an aspiration than a commitment. Unions – particularly those in polluting industries – have pushed back, saying that their communities will suffer from the 2030 target. Perhaps they should consider the next generation inhabiting those communities.

Tony Dyer

Population concern

Responses via social media to our Debate ‘Is concern about population growth exaggerated?’, NI 522.

1 The important part of this article is that the 20 per cent of the poorest people consume [less than] 2 per cent and the top 2 per cent consume 80 per cent [of resources]. Do not believe the hype; we have enough resources and space for many more humans but because of the corrupt system, most people live in poverty without their basic human needs being met. Claire Isted

2 One thing the article grazes but doesn’t really get into is the infant mortality rate in developing countries and the lack of any form of care in old age. In many places children surviving to adulthood and being successful is a way of individuals ensuring they are cared for in old age. I think along with choice of when to have children and consumption rates in wealthier nations, this is also an important aspect to consider. Laura Waskiewicz

3 What people are concerned about is that white people are getting old and dying, while others are having children who live in extreme poverty, and would want a better life for themselves by migrating like our human ancestors did. Rim Nour

Priceless genes

Re: ‘Marine gene rush’, NI 521. This should be made illegal, the same way it was for the human genome. The natural world does not belong to hedge funds.

Stuart North via social media