Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, August 9th, 2013 - 72 comments
Categories: Conservation, farming, john key, national, science, water - Tags: 100% pure new zealand, deregulation, fonterra, mike joy
Very early on in the Fonterra scandal there was speculation as to whether the cause of the contamination would be shown to be a product of deregulation. Sure enough, Stuff’s Pattrick Smellie makes a good case:
Is this a Pike River moment for food safety?
… Was this week’s botulism scare not only Fonterra’s Pike River moment, but also New Zealand’s, when it comes to the enormous value of food exports to its economy and the possibility the country has lost the capacity to soundly regulate the sector?
That’s a question asked by Simon Terry, of the Sustainability Council, a tireless watcher of what he says is a progressive erosion of the Government’s capacity to directly exercise food safety regulation.
That erosion dates back to the late 1990s when a newly elected Labour government ceded sovereignty to an Australasian food body. Most of the scientific and political clout at Food Standards Australia New Zealand now resides on the other side of the Tasman. …
At the same time, New Zealand began moving from explicit regulation to company-specified risk management programmes. …
Terry says the degree of devolution of food safety standards to individual companies is another facet of a seriously weakened food regulation system.
He has been told that the ministry is “focused on supporting economic growth” and worries that the assurance side of the equation – which includes food safety – is suffering as a result.
When scientists like Dr Mike Joy try to highlight our environmental / contamination problems, and argue for stronger regulatory protections, they are belittled and attacked by Key and the
Nats. Then along comes an event like the Fonterra scandal, proving just how vulnerable we really are. The damage is not done by scientists. The damage is done by closed minds, slack regulation, contamination and cover-up.
The lesson of the Fonterra Scandal is that Mike Joy and other scientists are right. To protect its environment, its brand, its exports and its economy, NZ needs to strengthen regulatory protections and clean up its act.