Telling us the way it re­ally is

Central Leader - - NEWS -

The mail­bag is glow­ing with heat as we count down to lo­cal body elec­tions and cope with prob­lems for our ‘‘100 per cent clean, green’’ coun­try plus worries over who’s go­ing to spy on us. And why? Sam­ple thought-pro­vok­ing anal­y­sis:

‘‘We are be­ing hi­jacked by our present city coun­cil and the Govern­ment.

‘‘Ques­tion one: Shouldn’t the mayor we voted in to gov­ern our city be do­ing just that, not imag­in­ing that he has to man­age it for may­ors and cit­i­zens three decades later?

‘‘2: Is he clair­voy­ant that he can fore­see ex­actly what the next gen­er­a­tion, with much more mod­ern so­lu­tions, will re­quire?

‘‘3: If his wild guess is cor­rect, tak­ing into ac­count the dif­fer­ent de­mo­graph­ics and lo­gis­tics likely in 2043, shouldn’t the peo­ple of that fu­ture era be pay­ing the ex­tra rates of his dreams?

‘‘4: Where do th­ese mis­in­formed peo­ple get the idea that ‘ big­ger is bet­ter’? Most towns and cities of the past ex­isted as cen­tres for the coun­try in­dus­tries around them and grew as such ac­cord­ing to their cir­cum­stances?

‘‘5: If tourism is our all-im­por­tant fu­ture con­sid­er­a­tion maybe it might be wise to re­alise that this bub­ble could burst at any time. It is based on hype and ad­ver­tis­ing, un­like man­u­fac­tur­ing and farm­ing, and any­thing we can of­fer in New Zealand, a lit­tle Pa­cific coun­try at the end of the globe, can be found nearer to home by over­seas folk.

‘‘6: Does he imag­ine that a short un­der­ground rail­way, al­ready an out-of-date idea, will be wel­comed by the mod­ern res­i­dents in 2043? Has he in­ves­ti­gated the ad­van­tages of an over­head rail­way, even an old­ish Syd­ney one? So much eas­ier to change the route, ex­pand or dis­man­tle than an ex­pen­sive tun­nel.’’ – Name pro­vided along with a de­scrip­tion ‘‘Over­taxed Ep­somer’’

‘‘Thank you for the very in­for­ma­tive col­umn on GM pro­duce.

‘‘Re­mem­ber­ing the suf­fer­ings of the Viet­nam War vet­er­ans ex­posed to Agent Or­ange, I don’t buy pro­duce grown in Viet­nam.

‘‘The write up about GM foods held my at­ten­tion as it did when the GE crowd were trum­pet­ing their case (and cause) for New Zealand to get on their GE/GM bus.

‘‘I was def­i­nite then that we don’t need to get on the bus but should be there when the bus crashes and we need to get back to the orig­i­nal seeds to see us through.

‘‘The ar­ro­gance of big busi­nesses (Mon­santo, Bayer, Dow Chem­i­cals, etc) and their re­searchers to dump their hor­rors on hu­mankind with­out in­con­clu­sive ev­i­dence that they are right! Were the re­sults of their re­search col­lated af­ter a whole gen­er­a­tion (or half a gen­er­a­tion?) of the own­ers and re­searchers of th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions have been con- sumers of th­ese pro­duce?

‘‘If you’re not pas­sion­ate enough to put your GM/GE pro­duce where your mouth is (for a whole or half a gen­er­a­tion), then don’t foist them on hu­mankind! An­other con­cern I have is with ir­ra­di­ated pro­duce com­ing into New Zealand with­out proper la­belling.

‘‘In the past few months my cu­rios­ity has been aroused with im­ported fruit. I bought some im­ported grapes and they’ve been sit­ting on my kitchen bench for months with­out any form of de­cay.

‘‘The grapes took about three to four months to shrink but not rot. I wouldn’t eat them and wouldn’t give them to my worms ei­ther, so in the bin they went.

‘‘From now on, I won’t be buy­ing any im­ported pro­duce so it’ll be the week­end traipse to the farm­ers’ mar­ket or lo­cal grow­ers for their ‘pick your own’. When­ever I talk to some­one about my con­cerns with ir­ra­di­a­tion, their re­ply is ‘it’s only a very low and ac­cept­able dose and will not cause any harm’.

‘‘It harmed the bugs con­cerned and who is there to guar­an­tee that the ag­gre­gated dosage from the dif­fer­ent types of ir­ra­di­ated fruit con­sumed does not af­fect the hu­man body?

‘‘Is any­body in the com­mu­nity con­cerned about ir­ra­di­a­tion?

‘‘I hope New Zealand pro­duce is not sub­jected to ir­ra­di­a­tion whether for lo­cal/national con­sump­tion or for ex­port.’’ – Mar­garet Scott, Paku­ranga

‘‘Your re­cent cor­re­spon­dent has an out­dated un­der­stand­ing of Crown Re­search In­sti­tutes which to­day are com­mer­cial part­ners with over­seas biotech com­pa­nies rent­ing land. He is wrong to as­sume GE crops in­crease yields to feed the hun­gry. They don’t.

‘‘The good news is that dou­bling food pro­duc­tion through agroe­co­log­i­cal farm­ing is pos­si­ble. The UN’s In­ter­na­tional As­sess­ment of Agri­cul­ture Science and Tech­nol­ogy for De­vel­op­ment (IAASTD) shows that the ex­act op­po­site of GE and the Mon­santo-style model is needed to feed fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

‘‘It is also wrong for your quoted cor­re­spon­dent to dis­miss the work of in­de­pen­dent sci­en­tists like Pro­fes­sor Jack Heine­mann as­sess­ing the risks of ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing.

‘‘The ev­i­dence in Pro­fes­sor Gilles-Eric Ser­alini’s life-time study of rats fed GM food is equally com­pelling given it is the only study of its kind. The risks are real and also highly com­plex which is why the in­sur­ance in­dus­try refuse cover for the slow long term ef­fects.

‘‘Un­der cur­rent leg­is­la­tion, the Haz­ardous Sub­stances and New Or­gan­isms Act, the risks of GM are ‘so­cialised’ in­stead of be­ing ‘pol­luter pays’. This makes risk-tak­ing by com­mer­cial ven­tures even greater and is why the use of GM out­doors is an is­sue from Bay of Plenty to North­land.

‘‘In 2009 a Col­mar Brun­ton poll com­mis­sioned by the coun­cil showed the pub­lic do not want to carry the risks of GM in the open en­vi­ron­ment, just as they would pre­fer not to eat GM food.

‘‘There are lo­cal com­mu­nity board GM-free zones con­firmed in Waitem­ata, Wai­heke and Al­bert/ Eden. Though the le­gal and pol­icy work of the In­ter Coun­cil Work­ing Party on op­tions to reg­u­late GMOs (wdc.govt.nz) is com­plete, the is­sue is be­ing swept un­der the car­pet by of­fi­cials at Auck­land Coun­cil.

‘‘The mayor has been non­com­mit­tal about his view on GM, de­spite the writ­ten ad­vice of Physi­cians and Sci­en­tists for Global Re­spon­si­bil­ity (psgr.org.nz) urg­ing pre­cau­tion. He and coun­cil­lors have a moral duty to al­low the pub­lic a say in the uni­tary plan process. The plan change word­ing has been de­vel­oped to hold GM users re­spon­si­ble, to re­quire lodg­ment of a bond and proof of fi­nan­cial fit­ness and to re­quire they pay com­pen­sa­tion for dam­age. If we fol­low the money and the ‘ trans­fer of risk’ – this is a fair way to mod­er­ate the fi­nan­cially driven risk-tak­ing that GM has be­come, cheer-led by Govern­ment, and some sec­tors not oth­ers.

‘‘The last uni­tary plan draft had one men­tion of the im­por­tant work of Auck­land and other coun­cils to hold GMO users legally li­able for dam­age. The next ver­sion must al­low pub­lic in­put on what could be the big­gest cost to coun­cil since leaky build­ings. There is need to get GM pol­icy in­cluded in the draft uni­tary plan. It’s fright­en­ing how much power the of­fi­cers have.’’ – Jon Cara­piet, spokesman, Auck­land GE-Free Coali­tion

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