Telling us the way it really is
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‘‘6: Does he imagine that a short underground railway, already an out-of-date idea, will be welcomed by the modern residents in 2043?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