“And did those feet in ancient time, Walk upon England's mountain green? And was the holy Lamb of God On England's pleasant pastures seen?”

The start of the hymn Jerusalem is sadly no longer true; we now, no longer, live in England’s pleasant pastures seen.

We recently visited friends near Horndean, so we took the route via the north of the South Downs; the route is no longer green and pleasant. The scene has been replaced with the unpleasant yellow of the blossoming of this year’s rape crop. Soon we will also suffer with the heavy pollen smell it emits. The English countryside has in fact been raped by the Farmers’ Rape Crop.

In my garden I can grow sweet peas in one of any of the 100 hybrid colours that plant breeders have cloned; why can’t farmers have rape flowers that have a greener blossom, rather than bright yellow?

Shouldn’t they restore the English countryside to its former beauty that their forefathers bequeathed to them?

90 per cent of the world’s rice is grown and consumed in Asia, with each hectare of rice producing land providing food for 27 people.

By 2050, because of population growth and increasing urbanisation, each remaining hectare will have to feed at least 43 people. This means that yields must be increased by at least 50 per cent over the next 40 years, to prevent mass malnutrition for the 700 million Asians that currently rely on rice for more than 60 per cent of their daily calorific intake.

To achieve this aim, a number of British plant breeding research stations have being working on a variety of rice that will have significant increases in its yield; this will avoid the mass starvation in rice dependent countries.

A number of years ago a similar project was carried out to increase the yields of wheat.

This resulted in a billion people being taken off starvation levels by the higher yielding cross of the Mexican high yielding wheats with that of the short strawed Chinese types.

When projects like this can achieve their re-design requirements, is it not asking too much if we ask farmers in the UK, and our own plant breeders, to redesign the rape plant, so it blends a lot better into our classical landscape scene?

A Green and Pleasant Land once more?

JOHN BARFOOT, Locks Heath.