Europe Going "Bio" Manic

Feb 26th, 2008, 02:45 PM
  #41  
 
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"so I hope the move to bio/organic keeps growing world wide."

God forbid. I have no interest in watching 100's of millions of people, primarily in poorer countries die.
travelgourmet is online now  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:47 PM
  #42  
 
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It's very easy to find organic food in Belgium. Here in Brussels I could probably do my entire weekly shop in my local supermarket buying only organic products, if I so wished.

Several years ago, I worked for a multinational that produces pesticides and herbicides, with a subsidiary that produced animal feed, and an extensive biotech research programme. This was a French company that has been involved in GM research for a number of years. So GM's not "coming to Europe" - it's been here for some time. I don't know the exact figures, but GM maize is certainly being grown here and has been for a while.

Incidentally, a couple of scientists from the animal feed company, who where developing a new kind of chicken feed for battery farmed chickens, told me that they wouldn't touch that meat with a bargepole and only bought free-range or organic chicken themselves.

That was enough for me to switch to organic chicken too. Aside from all the ethical/moral issues, it tastes better!!
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Feb 26th, 2008, 11:52 PM
  #43  
 
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Surely the two issues are not synonymous? I cannot remember any of the previous posts insisting that people eat organic food or GM food.

I agree that GM crops have helped in food production for the 3rd world, but there are issues. How would the average Zimbabwean farmer cope now if they had used exclusively GM maize. Their currency is worthless, they cannot keep seed back for next year, and are Beholden to the corporations.

As I have previously stated, I am not necessarily anti GM or pro Organic, but I do want to know what I am buying.
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Feb 27th, 2008, 01:10 AM
  #44  
 
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GM maize is totally banned in France. There were a few fields under cultivation for cattle food in southwest France, but a total ban went into effect this year after some new research showed a potential danger. This puts France in alignment with most of the countries of the EU. In any case, GM maize has never been approved for human consumption in France.
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Feb 27th, 2008, 01:49 AM
  #45  
 
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Didn't know that GM maize had recently been banned in France - that's interesting. I believe GM maize is still grown (for feed, I assume) in Spain and some other European countries.
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Feb 27th, 2008, 03:27 AM
  #46  
 
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Here's a news brief about the French ban:

http://curezone.com/forums/fmp.asp?i=1084214
kerouac is online now  
Feb 27th, 2008, 07:05 AM
  #47  
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it does seem like i read about some French farmers being busted for sneaking in SM grains to their fields?

Personally from what i've read i think the Franco-European take on GM crops is like having your head in the sand

and perhaps another tool of the famous French agricultural protection measures

perhaps the French should pay attention to their cities more that have some of the worst polluted air in Europe - much more a danger i believe
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Feb 27th, 2008, 07:32 AM
  #48  
twk
 
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I am amazed at how close-minded some people are on this subject, and how much hysteria there really is.

In the minds of some folks, any animal that has been in a feedlot is toxic. Most animals are only in a feed lot for a few weeks before being slaughtered. I can tell you this because unlike most of the folks who are spreading fear about US beef, I've got first hand experience. My family has been ranching in Texas for generations. Our operation is a typical "cow/calf" operation, meaning we maintain a breeding herd which grazes in our pastures, where the yearling steers, along with the heifers that fail to breed immeidately upon reaching maturity, are then sold to buyers who take them to feed lots to be fattened on grain for a short period of time. The grain feeding allows the beef to marble, which makes it more attractive to packers since marbeling improves the taste. There is nothing dangerous or cruel about the corn feeding process--it is simply doing on a larger scale what was done by individual farmers on a small scale for centuries when they would fatten an animal shortly before slaughter. Now, feedlots do use some hormones and medications which aren't strictly organic, and if you don't want to eat anything that has come into contract with that stuff, then that's fine, but to describe the process in Frankenstein terms is rather silly.

Actually, us small town hicks were eating true "organic" beef long before it became cool in urban areas. Many ranchers in my small town would periodically take an animal right out of their pasture to the local meat locker (essentially, a butcher operation), have the animal butchered and the meat frozen to be used when needed. Nobody thought to market the stuff as "organic" and try to mark up the price over the "fancy" feed lot beef, selling it as a delicacy. Having had both, I have to confess that I like the commercial stuff better.
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Feb 27th, 2008, 08:31 AM
  #49  
 
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"yuppies are deluded enough to waste money on foodstuffs that aren't objectively better" - objective data: I have developed an allergy to American dairy and beef. I can eat organic or imported dairy and beef with no problem. I don't know whether I'm reacting to the antibiotics or the growth hormones, but something disagrees with me. And isn't feeding ANY corn to beef unnatural?
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Feb 27th, 2008, 10:11 AM
  #50  
 
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So, some of you people think it is completely normal for GM corn to kill the resident earthworms?
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Feb 27th, 2008, 10:31 AM
  #51  
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originally BTW there were no earthworms in North America until colonization and it took the worms centuries i believe to work their way from coast to coast

well that's the story but if there had been GM crops then the worms would not gotten very far and gardens would have suffered.
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 27th, 2008, 11:37 AM
  #52  
 
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"God forbid. I have no interest in watching 100's of millions of people, primarily in poorer countries die."

Speak to your Government then...

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/to...icle379756.ece
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Feb 27th, 2008, 11:47 AM
  #53  
 
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J R: Not sure what that has to do with organic produce, though. Also, there is nothing there to suggest that the subsidies are causing hunger or starvation. Quite the opposite, in fact, as lower prices suggest more supply.

All that being said, you will likely not find a bigger free trade advocate than me, and I am no fan of these subsidies, but I just don't find this at all relevant.
travelgourmet is online now  
Feb 27th, 2008, 11:54 AM
  #54  
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Subsidies in what i've read indeed can have a deletrious affect on local markets in poor countries as the small one bullock farmer tilling a tiny field just cannot compete pricewise with the prices of imported crops from the West that typically have huge subsidies

thus the local farmer goes out of business and the country becomes totally dependent on foreing food

but now the severe malnutrition problem that is getting worse quicker is perhaps in large part due to bio fuels taking food crops out of the supply chain and pushing up the price for the crops they use to make bio fuel.

Italian pasta prices have soared supposedly because in large part of this - Italians can absorb it but when the price of a cup of grain in Bangladesh triples in price then there's worsening misery in food

Sadly not many Westerns seem to give a darn about the plight their policies may be causing the third world

I think the protestors at world economic forums may indeed be right
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 27th, 2008, 12:13 PM
  #55  
 
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There's no doubt that European and US subsidies are bad for some third world farmers. But they have to be good for third world consumers, who are simply getting cheaper food from rich countries.

Thsese subsidies might be a bad thing if your objective is to force Africans to stay on the farm - which is what fantasist activist groups like Oxfam (the prats quoted by JR Hartley) seem to want to do.

But trabvelgourmet's almost completely right. The track record of these activist groups (especially UK-based ones like Oxfam and Christian Aid) in understanding the real mechanics of world trade is appalling. They pretend to waste donors' money on ill-informed, neo-Marxist rants. In fact, they waste it even more immorally: by paying comfortable salaries to my workshy neighbours so they can live in the tonier parts of the West, churning out myths that actually keep poor countries even poorer.

Paul Collier's recent book 'The Bottom Billion' exposes the know-nothingism that underpins these groups' propaganda.

As travelgourmet says, there are all kinds of good reasons for opposing US subsidies on rice, cotton and biofuel and EU subsidies on tobacco (I kid you not) and dairy farming. But third-world starvation isn't one of them.
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Feb 27th, 2008, 12:20 PM
  #56  
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OK cher flaneur

what about use of food crops for bio fuels and third world hunger?

double or triple the cost of their basic food and their wages stay the same - already at margins of society - then the West will have to provide relief, etc. and we will feel good about doing so and not thinking our policies may have caused it

A major Dutch utility or something paid for a study in Indonesia i believe to use palm oil for fuel instead of fossil fuels - they canceled it when they found out locals were chopping down huge swathes of rain forest to grow the scrub palms, etc.

And back to other thing - i'd rather have the poor farmer farming than living off Western dole in a refugee camp
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 27th, 2008, 12:45 PM
  #57  
 
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I don't pretend to know much about world economics, but I have lived and worked in Africa for some time. Much(if not most) of the small scale farming is on a subsistance level.

Do you want to keep the poor on the farms? I would have thought yes as the alternative is unlikely to be better with little or no welfare system and huge unemployment.

Cheap food from the first world may be a misnomer as well if the average wage in many parts of Africa is less than $5 a day.
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Feb 27th, 2008, 01:03 PM
  #58  
 
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I believe that it was by withdrawing from the open world market, i.e. providing government support against the desires the Work Bank or IMF, that Malawi went from a importer to an exporter of basic food stuffs. It is also said that NAFTA has ruined the local agricultural economy of Mexico, sending more people across the border in a desperate search for jobs.
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Feb 27th, 2008, 09:27 PM
  #59  
 
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"I believe that it was by withdrawing from the open world market, i.e. providing government support against the desires the Work Bank or IMF, that Malawi went from a importer to an exporter of basic food stuffs."

This report, would suggest that Malawi has a good relationship with the IMF and is largely meeting the criteria laid out for it:

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2008/cr0803.pdf

Also, bear in mind that Malawi had a food crisis as recently as 2005. With such a short window, one cannot attribute any recent food surpluses to structural changes, as it would seem you are trying to do. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of African agricultural production is high variability in output.

And, back on topic, the increase in food production in Malawi has seen increased use of fertilizers, rather than an organic approach.

"It is also said that NAFTA has ruined the local agricultural economy of Mexico, sending more people across the border in a desperate search for jobs."

It is also said that NAFTA has done a lot of bad things. I believe few of them. Indeed, what inefficencies there are in the market between the US and Mexico are likely caused by the impact of subsidies and the like, rather than the impact of free trade.

"Much(if not most) of the small scale farming is on a subsistance level.

Do you want to keep the poor on the farms? I would have thought yes as the alternative is unlikely to be better with little or no welfare system and huge unemployment."


In a lot of ways, I agree with this, but subsistence farming has a lot of negative impacts. It provides incentives to increase family size and birth rates. It encourages sub-optimal land usage. It ties people to the land, preventing development of other industries.

I know that there is some nostalgia for the family farmer in the west, but the fact of the matter is that, historically, a shift away from subsistence farming has proven to be a pre-requisite for any other form of development. It allows the most efficient producers to raise overall production, drives down prices for all, and increases urbanization necessary for the development of non-agricultural industries.
travelgourmet is online now  
Feb 27th, 2008, 10:10 PM
  #60  
 
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What about biofuel?

PalQ's quite right, and my wording was sloppy. Biofuel subsidies kill food production - arguably to produce fuel at an even greater cost in cartbon dumping. The argument for biofuel isn't green: it's about US self-sufficiency, which you'd achive a great deal faster if you had the guts to charge sensible prices for gasoline.

It's impossible to justify America's (huge) or the EU's (titchy) cotton subsidies either. And don't get me started on the EU's tobacco subsidies.

But Western subsidies on growing food? A much more comlicated problem, and nothing like as black as Oxfam's trite simlpicisms make it out to be.
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