Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A bit of controversy

Something that's been in the papers quite a lot recently here and abroad is the new hip word (words actually) - "Food Miles".

An extract from a local paper here entitled "UK War against Kenya's horticulture" got me thinking. It reads as follows:

- "The British Soil Association last month launched what it called 'airfreight consultation' aimed at reducing or eliminating environmental impact of organic air freight......

Players in the industry have a chance to convince the British NGO that unilateral action against air freighted produce from Africa and other developing countries is ill-advised and will undermine the UN convention on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol that exempt them from responsibility of greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

The fact is that the UK and other developed countries are responsible for excess greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, causing intolerable effects on climate change in Africa and beyond. Frequent droughts and floods are attributed to global warming with attendant consequences such as food insecurity, famine and malnutrition....

But instead of the Soil Association aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions at home, it is coming to Africa to further hurt the victims of their profligate energy intensive lifestyles. How long will Africa suffer because of actions of others? Africa has no greenhouse gas emissions worth talking about. Africa is responsible for only three to four per cent of the global emissions.

This is symptomatic of our underdevelopment and for this the Climate Change Convention exempted us from cutting down emissions until we develop. If the British Soil Association does not target emission reductions in developed countries and instead exports the responsibility to poor countries, starting with the agricultural sector which employs 80 per cent of our population, then their objective is to protect their energy development at the expense of Africa.

For victims of climate change, the Associations 'feel good do nothing at home' is unacceptable. .....
Why target poor African farmers?"

This 'get green' policy seems that its all a scam to get people to support the British farmer! Perhaps its well placed really as the government in the UK seems to give out tons of cash for various reasons to support the local farmer - so by hammering the "Food Miles" debate - perhaps it means the government will have to give out less of their budget subsidising British farmers. (I once remember meeting some Brits who were farmers in the foot and mouth crisis and they told me that it was more economical to cull all their livestock than keep them alive during the crisis - even when they weren't in an area at risk - as they got more money per animal from the government by culling them than by keeping them and their farms going.

It seems quite a cynical view i suppose but countries such as ours have spent millions doing the right thing and getting the right certifications to certify all their products organic, etc. in order to be able to sell their produce in the EU and now after all that expense and heartache they are now trying to boycott our veg with the food miles thing and the 'support your local farmers market.'

I read one website where someone asked the question - "How would this food miles debate effect the 3rd world farmers" - and in typical English style the fellow answering totally avoided the question all together and went on about how buying local produce should be a personal choice, bla bla bla. - no answer whatsoever!

I am not against local farmers in the UK or anything like that but its all a little shallow as if you research further it turns out that in order to grow great organic veg like we do over here, in perfect conditions with gorgeous sunny days at high altitudes and amazingly fertile soils. In the UK everything has to be grown in fully heated greenhouses using loads of energy and emitting loads of greenhouse gases - so how does that help the green debate after all??

Anyway an interesting debate - we'll have to see which way it pans out.

By the way - we grow the most fantastic veg here - quite unlike the generally tasteless produce you get in the UK - so if you do get a chance to buy some - i would - it's well worth it!! But of course - I'm biased!

No comments: