Out­break of to­geth­er­ness

New Zealand Listener - - LETTERS -

The fu­ture of farm­ing as de­scribed in the Au­gust 25 cover story (“All that’s green is gold”) is en­cour­ag­ing.

Af­ter decades of calls to not un­der­mine the “back­bone of the economy”, met by other voices ask­ing “what about an­i­mal emis­sions and water qual­ity?”, we are fi­nally see­ing some­thing that could be de­scribed as rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween town and coun­try.

There are a num­ber of pos­i­tive signs: a Dairy NZ work­shop re­port­edly “packed” with peo­ple look­ing for an­swers to cli­mate change; this week’s re­lease of the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion re­port on a low-emis­sion economy; and dairy com­pa­nies Syn­lait and Fon­terra talk­ing sus­tain­abil­ity and zero emis­sions.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has been vis­it­ing farms, dis­cussing the how-to of chang­ing farm­ing prac­tices. This is in con­trast with long­heard neg­a­tive ut­ter­ances from peo­ple in that sec­tor about “gree­nies” and all they stood for. Per­haps there are fewer peo­ple now with that at­ti­tude.

And Si­mon Bridges, to his credit, has found a voice on the sub­ject, say­ing that there needs to be a bi­par­ti­san ap­proach to cli­mate change.

It’s been a long time com­ing but the di­vi­sions ap­pear to be evap­o­rat­ing. We can breathe again. Sel­wyn Boor­man (Waikanae)

BAR­BER BOL­LARD

Alan Bol­lard refers to the Re­serve Bank’s ex­panded tool­kit (“Sit­u­a­tion: frag­ile”, Septem­ber 8). Un­for­tu­nately, the Open Bank Res­o­lu­tion (OBR) scis­sors therein give the mainly New Zealand de­pos­i­tors of our mostly Aus­tralian-owned banks a hair­cut with­out con­tem­po­ra­ne­ously de­nud­ing the eq­uity-hold­ers, mostly Aus­tralian, of their own­er­ship.

The shorn locks ought to be fash­ioned by OBR into new, mainly New Zealand-owned, eq­uity. Tony Gav­i­gan (St Marys Bay, Auck­land)

SOFT SOAP ON TOX­INS

When I was a Green MP, I co­or­di­nated the ap­pli­ca­tion for the re­assess­ment of tri­closan (“Don’t touch the tox­ins”, Septem­ber 1), with the back­ing of over­seas stud­ies, sci­en­tists at the Cawthron In­sti­tute, the In­sti­tute of En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence and Re­search and Plant & Food Re­search, and a lo­cal soap man­u­fac­turer.

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity claimed it would cost $50,000-$250,000 to per­form the re­assess­ment. That is a core prob­lem. The EPA needs more fund­ing for re­assess­ments, but also a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to risk.

If the pre­cau­tion­ary prin­ci­ple was ap­plied, the bur­den of proof would be on chem­i­cal pro­duc­ers to prove safety. The EPA fears chal­lenges from the chem­i­cal in­dus­try. If it needs greater pro­tec­tion, the law should be changed.

The idea that as­sess­ing toxic chem­i­cals is about “bal­ance” is un­sci­en­tific and ir­re­spon­si­ble. Chem­i­cals that are ubiq­ui­tous in the home need to be a pri­or­ity and we can­not af­ford not to pro­tect our­selves and our en­vi­ron­ment. Cather­ine De­lahunty (Kauaeranga Valley, Coro­man­del)

A more bal­anced, cred­i­ble and in­for­ma­tive ar­ti­cle about house­hold chem­i­cals would have taken into con­sid­er­a­tion the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of tox­i­col­ogy. That is, the dose and the route are ma­jor fac­tors in de­ter­min­ing whether some­thing is toxic or not.

It is also im­por­tant to con­sider that although items such as plas­tics (in­clud­ing can lin­ers), wall­pa­per and coat­ings on cook­ware do con­tain haz­ardous sub­stances, these chem­i­cals are “bound”, which makes it dif­fi­cult for them to leach into the en­vi­ron­ment and po­ten­tially into the body.

The fun­da­men­tal is­sue isn’t that chem­i­cals are in such items, but rather the lack of

in­for­ma­tion on how much may leach and re­sult in lowlevel ex­po­sure and what the con­se­quences are over a life­time, es­pe­cially in vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions such as the young. Lynne Clapham (Up­per Moutere, Tas­man)

HIT­TING THE BOT­TLE

The Septem­ber 1 Ed­i­to­rial’s at­tempt to be­lit­tle the need for and value of al­co­hol pol­icy by re­peat­ing the al­co­hol in­dus­try’s er­ro­neous claims of lack of ef­fec­tive­ness is out of step with global and lo­cal think­ing.

Global health ac­tors such as the UN and WHO rec­om­mend ev­i­dence-based ef­fec­tive al­co­hol poli­cies: these in­clude in­creases in ex­cise tax and re­stric­tions on mar­ket­ing and hours of sale. Such poli­cies are op­posed by the in­dus­try be­cause they re­duce heavy drink­ing and there­fore their prof­its.

The con­fer­ence the Ed­i­to­rial re­ferred to asked the ques­tion, “Who should pay for all the

harm from al­co­hol?”, which in New Zealand is put at $7.8 bil­lion a year. Part of the so­lu­tion was out­lined by Aus­tralian econ­o­mist John Mars­den: in­crease al­co­hol ex­cise tax and the bur­den falls mainly on the heavy drinker (who re­duces his or her drink­ing some­what but also pays more); this pro­vides rev­enue for the gov­ern­ment and off­sets the eco­nomic costs that are other­wise paid for from the taxes of lighter and non-drinkers. Sally Cass­well, Di­rec­tor, So­cial and Health Out­comes Re­search and Eval­u­a­tion (SHORE), Massey Univer­sity The con­fer­ence the Ed­i­to­rial re­ferred to was not anti-liquor – I was prob­a­bly one of the few there who does not im­bibe. At­ten­dees wish to see some­thing done about the harm that al­co­hol causes in our com­mu­nity – 1000 deaths a year, for starters. Fall­ing con­sump­tion is ir­rel­e­vant when al­co­hol harm has in­creased. Den­nis Veal (Ti­maru)

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