Policy on Food
Peering behind the brightly-lit supermarket shelves our view of how and where our food is produced gets rapidly dimmed. Producers, importers and the agrichemical industry are able to keep it this way because the general public accepts at face value their 'food from nowhere' and the industry-conferred authorisation that comes with it.
The fact is that there is much to be concerned about the current state of our food, and our failure to tackle the underlying issues are exponentially burdening our personal and national health systems.
New findings in soil science, grouped under the study of 'agroecology' could change that. These findings are gradually being noticed and used by forward thinking farmers: better soil, better productivity, better public health. Everybody wins, except of course the entrenched agrichemical interests.
So how can government speed up this change?
A few of the important issues that will need to addressed are:
- With the belated urgency to 'feed our kids' comes the question - feed them what?
- Big Chem's new initiative to drown out alternative agriculture throughout the universities of the world ('one agriculture-one science' - http://www.oneagriculture.org/ ) has worrying implications for health and the environment.
- Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) became mandatory in the U.S. in 2008. But in NZ international corporations and industry groups have so far been able to sidestep it.
- The list of radiated fruit & vege being imported into NZ keeps growing. The requirement to label these products as 'radiated' is about to end. .. and so on. ===============
Food-health-farming is the big issue of our times and none of the NZ political parties has really noticed this.
My suggestion is for a Food Production Policy that prioritises benefits to consumers such as nutrition, rather than following the aims of the industries involved.
Alan Bainbridge Fri 12 Sep 2014 12:26AM
I agree with everything that has been said, but do not see this as an issue that can be compartmentalized. Yes, it is definitely about nutrition, but also much, much more.
Climate change - chemical/mechanical farming methods literally mine carbon from the soil and place them into the atmosphere and oceans. It took the "birth place of agriculture" (the middle east) 2,000 years to turn fertile soil into desert. it took the USA 200 years to create the mid-west dust bowl. In India some areas have been rendered useless within 20 years of biotech farming. 2,000; 200; 20, can anyone else see an alarming trend here?
Employment - While IM is the only party with anything like a comprehensive policy on employment, the loss of jobs in the farming sector can also be reversed, to enhance that policy. 70% of the world's food is still produced by small growers/producers who work directly on the land. Yet, despite the fact that most of the non-renewable resources are pumped into the remaining 30%, these small growers produce more food per acre than their industrialized counterparts. These small growers can, and often do, enhance the land they work instead of degrading it. Sceptics who say that rural jobs are low paid work should look at what happened in Cuba after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, where the entire country had to learn to feed itself without petrochemicals for either machinery or fertilizers. Not only did it adapt, but farmers ended up earning more than doctors!
Limited resources - While the entire world still appears to be fixated on growth, any thinking person knows that growth, like the resources it consumes, is finite. As production grows, so do the costs of production (including the hidden "externalized costs"), yet many people are successfully increasing their income by reducing the cost of production and retaining profits for themselves instead of petrochemical and agrichemical giants.
These are just a few aspects of this vast subject - to be continued when time allows..............
Elaine Bainbridge Sat 13 Sep 2014 1:07AM
The growing of food is the most important issue in our time. The health of people, and that of future generations, depends on us recognizing that it is vital to grow and eat nutrient-dense, chemical-free food, if we are to flourish.
As we contemplate the end of the oil-based economy, the big multi-nationals are eyeing up food and water as their future cash-cow, pushing governments to accept GM crops under the pretence that GM "food" can feed the world - and besides, in their double-speak it's not "substantially different" to real food. GM "food" has not been subjected to any long-term testing, and what has been done has been carried out by those who profit from GMO's - the big multi-nationals pushing their agenda. As can be seen in the US, where GMO's are in many foods, the health of the people has declined - and people are now demanding that GMO "food" is labelled.
The majority of food grown in NZ is subjected to numerous fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides,fungicides, etc, which only deplete the quality of the soil, killing off the many beneficial bacteria and fungi which hold the soil together, nourishing the plants and providing nutrient-dense food.
To grow food naturally is more labour intensive, but this would fit in very well with the IMP goals of providing more jobs. Support to help people transform to a natural system would be needed, which could be via the internet. Already many valuable resources on permaculture, organic farming, etc are available online.
This is such a huge issue, and this is the tip of the iceberg.
Ross Scholes Sat 13 Sep 2014 1:25AM
Climate Change from Food
The impact of 'conventional' agriculture upon climate change is interesting here. In the following video Graeme Sait, clearly a leading expert, indicates that chemical-based agriculture is responsible for 60% of the CO2 that has been added to the Earth's atmosphere. That is huge!
If it is true then this is 20 minutes of simple ideas which could make a huge difference if incorporated into regional and national policy.
It has puzzled me for a while why this wasn't more commonly acknowledged. What I decided was that Big Chem is not that concerned about losing the climate-change 'fuel-emissions' battle - kind of a foregone conclusion anyway in the face of technology advances - because with its dwindling resource base (Peak Oil - http://www.oildecline.com/) it can forecast a rosier return-on-investment for itself in agrichemicals for a future world increasingly being fed on GMOs.
Alan Bainbridge Sat 13 Sep 2014 2:22AM
Soil health, carbon content and sequestration are topics rarely linked to climate change by the MSM largely because, as @rossscholes says, it doesn't suit the agenda of big business. Just in case anyone out there believes that we do not have expertise right here in Aotearoa, here is a link to a soil scientist from Hawks Bay who I have personally seen present on this topic www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sw2AE8Dsc8 This is an intro, but longer, more informative presentations are also on youtube.
Ross Scholes Tue 16 Sep 2014 10:01AM
Genetically Modified Organisms
The role of GMOs is a significant part of the food discussion that wasn't there a decade ago. Only a small percentage of people understand the subject well enough to take it as seriously as it should be. Meanwhile the industry carries on, appealing to common sentiment with blatantly false claims about supposed benefits -- increased productivity; sustainable ... and so on, causing irreversible genetic damage to the global (food) gene pool.
Here are a few short videos to outline the current state of play.
Pietrad · Thu 11 Sep 2014 11:10PM
Great idea - although maybe it should be a Food Production and Nutrition Policy. The large response to Campbell Live's appeal for food for children resulted in huge quantities of tinned baked beans and spaghetti . W.T.F ??
It might be 'food' - using the term loosely - but GOOD food it sure isn't. The growing number of schools with producing gardens is a heartening step following the initiatives by Robyn McCurdy..