While a murder of lawyers – under the direction of federal attorney-general-bigot Brandis – combs over legislation in an effort to limit personal freedoms and extend corporate ones, our own coalition state government is joining in the fun.
According to Fairfax, NSW primary industries minister Katrina Hodgkinson (Nationals), has instigated a joint federal/state crack- down on ‘agri-terrorists’, or those who trespass onto intensive animal farm industries and film the activity.
As such, the NSW Primary Industries Legislation Amendment (Biosecurity) Bill 2012 is up for amendment.
Barnaby Joyce (federal Nationals) is also keen to help keep people ill-informed and dumbed down about what they eat and is joining the fray at the national level.
Clearly the effort by activists is to stop or reduce the appalling way in which some animals are farmed. If better legislation were enacted to improve the conditions of animals subjected to inten- sive farming, would there be a need for these laws?
It’s like introducing a bad law to prop up bad behaviour.
Regardless, the 2008 US doco Food, Inc. is a good place to start if you want to be informed about intensive large-scale ani- mal farming. It posits that corporate agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees.
While free speech works in mysterious ways, it gener- ally only favours those who write the legislation. Thankfully there’s still public submissions. The state legislation is open for public comment until June 27 and is available at www. dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/legislative-review.
It’s heartening to hear that the NSW National Party has thrown its support behind a local hemp manufacturer.
Bangalow based Hemp Foods Australia is spruiking the funding by NSW Trade and Investment of six new employees for a minimum of three months, which director Paul Benhaim says is ‘invaluable
in improving financial stability and credibility to move ahead and employ many more for longer.’
According to Benhaim, there is strong interest from Asia and North America and, ‘we’re confident we will become market leaders in the southern hemisphere with our specialised products.’
Presently the company produces hulled hemp seeds, oil and protein. But unlike the tinctures that reportedly provide relief from epilepsy, his products contain no THC. Instead, his company specialises in food-grade stuffs which contain omega-3, omega-6, omega-9 and essential fatty acids.
The catch? Hemp foods are not allowed to be sold as food in Australia and New Zealand (except for hemp oil in NZ). Buy this stuff locally and it has to be applied externally; however the federal government is looking into it.
Anyway, local Nationals MP Don Page says hemp foods are ‘a prime example of the NSW government’s success in helping regional businesses move forward and boost employment.’
‘Jobs are always a priority in NSW, especially in the bush, and this government is working hard with bright initiatives to provide them.’
Similarly, NSW deputy premier and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner was quoted in Benhaim’s press release as saying the performance of hemp foods ‘would hopefully be a story repeated over and over in NSW as the government’s incentives and strategies became established.’
So will we see the Nationals take the ball on this and promote jobs and industries that will take on big pharma, plastics, paper, cotton and fossil fuels? One could say this is certainly a good start.
And it’s not often the Nationals can be commended; let’s forget for now that appalling $2m rail study designed to rob this region of public transport, planning reforms that favour developers, or proposed legislation to sack councils and shift power to the state.
Oh, and also Mr Stoner’s refusal to support a mini-hydro business in his own electorate, as reported in The Echo a few weeks ago.
While Mr Page says jobs are a priority in NSW, his leader Mr Stoner failed to offer the same assistance to that industry. It could have possibly saved a Dorrigo business that offered renewable energy.
Mention Monsanto and most would be aware of the chemical company’s flagship product Roundup, and its pushing of genetically engineered (GE) seeds onto farmers and big agriculture.
But the company has its supporters, such as Bill Gates, who claim that seed engineering can address food, land and water shortages while the global population keeps on booming.
Former head of the United Nations World Food Programme, Josette Sheeran, is also a fan, says www.economist.com. Is it really a potential saviour in the climate-change age?
Unlikely. Something to be suspicious of is its push, via the US government, of its GE seed onto countries that don’t want or need it. According to www.guardian.co.uk, ‘The US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposed genetically modified (GM) crops, newly released WikiLeaks cables show.’
The report in January 2011 adds that in other released WikiLeaks cables, ‘US diplomats around the world are found to have pushed GM crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative.’
The extent to which Monsanto pursues unethical behaviour demonstrates that it does not act in the interest of the human species. This is shown in its poisoning of the entire town of Nitro in West Virginia, where it produced Agent Orange. Like all corporations devoid of social responsibility it only exists to maximise profits.
The poisonous 40-year legacy of Monsanto will be getting an airing in Mullumbimby, and this co-incides with events being held internationally.
Activities will be held in four different venues around town, and kick off with a sign-making day on Tuesday September 11 at the Mullumbimby Community Garden from 10am.
Documentaries, organic food and talks are all planned, ending with a street march on Saturday, September 15.
For more visit www.occupymonsanto360.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Dutton and his team tried hard to gain financial support from our wealthiest to purchase Mullum’s IGA.
While commendable, it is not entirely surprising that it didn’t get up. Enticing a large pack of alpha men (presumably) into a project that would provide Mullum with an alternative to Woolies was always going to be a hard sell.
Imagine having to deal with all that ego? Hopefully it isn’t over and the community still has a shot. Woolies, it should be noted, operates as a corporate psychopath. While it employs a handful of locals, the company has no interest in Mullum, or any of the towns it benefits from.
It is only driven by profit and presides over the largest share of the nation’s pokie and alcohol market. Along with Coles, they are squeezing Aussie farmers, which is about as dishonourable as it gets.
Only a handful of politicians are prepared to say this and unsurprisingly they are mostly independents. Australian Workers’ Union boss Paul Howes recently said both Woolies and Coles threaten the future of Australian food production. Even the madhatter MP Bob Katter wants an enquiry into their duopoly.
Anyway here’s a few things that our Shire’s wealthiest could do to make a difference to our ideologically war-torn Shire.
Step up and be a renegade: get a commuter railway service happening between Bangalow, Byron, Mullum and Billinudgel. No need for Council approval – it’s state government land.
Yes, that’s right, ignore the state – they ignore us anyway – let’s show Australia that progressive ideals can be followed through with action.
Base-load power from solar has been available for some time now – why not make this Shire an example? I am sure there’s a return in there – if anything just for ego’s sake.
Oh and an artificial reef/surf break would be sick. Anywhere from Tallow south or around Bruns. Sweet.
President of Mullumbimby and Ocean Shores Community Gardens, Greg Dutton, has a few more credentials to establish before his ambitious plan to establish a Mullum community IGA supermarket gets legs.
After the announcement two weeks ago, he has impressed many with his idealism and leadership aspirations. He wants to establish a co-op hybrid model that gives the community a chance to own its own supermarket. Mayor Jan Barham speaks highly, saying that she is ‘impressed’ by what Mr Dutton and partner Sarah-jane have done with the Ocean Shores gardens and with the permaculture youth challenge.
Internet searches yield very little of Mr Dutton’s previous life before the Shire; however, he told The Echo he purposely deleted his online profiles in 2007 after a family separation. He says he was a venture capitalist and a principal stakeholder/investor in Netfire (now Netfira: www.netfira.com.au) from 2001 until 2007. Since then, he says he has been working with 11 Aboriginal communities in NSW.
Perhaps what is most interesting is his capacity for leverage and wedge. Fronting yourself on behalf of the community wedges you against any other private interests and, well, anyone who might disagree.
Quotes by the mayor and others have been leveraged on the project’s website which boosts his personal association cred.
But let’s not forget this is also a business proposition for Mr Dutton and his team. They hope to be re-imbursed for the work they are trying to achieve. Concerns have been expressed to The Echo over the high-acquisition budget, but to be fair, it all appears to be evolving and a cautious approach is understandable.
He has also told The Echo he stands to lose personally a substantial amount if it fails. While he brims with confidence, what the community is now waiting for is the concrete business plan. That is supposed to include a co-operative or public unlisted company structure and then a shareholder agreement. But pledges have come in, with now $600k in virtual dollars by 392 supporters being registered on www.ourmullumbimby.org.
And let’s not forget a well-run community asset is a highly desirable asset. A means of empowering our localised economy suits any progressive community such as ours. We’ll wait until it all checks out
A while back I made dinner for myself and friends and unintentionally poisoned the lot of us, albeit only as a ho- meopathic dose. The custard I made as dessert had a list of ingredients that included cornflour, sugar, salt and a few numbers: 102 (Tartrazine) and 110 (Sunset Yellow).
I consulted the The Chemical Maze, a reference book about numbers in food, and it revealed that these are considered potentially harmful to humans. Ingesting these synthetic colours, upon further investigation, not only pointed to a health hazard, but were in fact potentially carcinogenic.
When asked of the health implications, the custard company responded with waffle about its consumer concerns, corporate responsibilities and meeting Australian food standards. Regardless of my unanswered questions, this lesson has taught me that we as consumers are mostly oblivious of being sold poison.
Custard, after all, is just egg, sugar and milk. That’s it. The numbers are there to poison us and to make it yellow.
If you really want yellow custard, tumeric or saffron could be the answer. Why would you add a nasty colour additive when a natural one would suffice? Is it because it’s cheaper to unload excess chemical residue onto the public, rather than use a natural colour?
The supermarket I bought the custard from stocks at least three brands of custard powder, and they all included those same additives.
I now have the Chemical Maze book as an application on my iPhone, which is handy in a supermarket. It would be great to see labelling where the additive – and its effects – are by law designed to stand out on the packet in a huge bold font. Just like a cigarette warning, it would scream at us that we are potentially buying and eating chemical garbage.