Dirty Politics and the health advocates

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, December 6th, 2014 - 58 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, national - Tags: , ,

A recent Stuff article made me reflect on the treatment of scientists in New Zealand.  It is a measure of the strange state that our world is in that merchant bankers hold power and scientists, who must rank as the ultimate truth seekers, are undermined and attacked.

The story reported on an article published by Dr Boyd Swinburn.  As reported on Stuff:

Swinburn, a Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at the University of Auckland, is the most-recent expert to join criticism of what author Nicky Hager described in his Dirty Politics book as “an apparent systemic approach being used by the tobacco, alcohol and processed food industries in New Zealand to attack prominent public-health advocates”.

In the article, co-authored with Australian professor Michael Moore, Swinburn said: “A blanket of suppression is insidiously descending on the voices for public health.”

First, there were the interests of transnational corporations, and then there was the Government, which wanted to control public health information and messaging, Swinburn said.

While working in Australia’s Deakin University, Swinburn said he experienced efforts to have reports cancelled or watered down and funding pulled, and he said that had started happening in New Zealand.

“There needs to be voices that are based in science standing up to that and speaking on behalf of the public,” he said.

“There are plenty of voices on behalf of the commercial interest. But the number of voices on behalf of the public are getting fewer and weaker.”

As an example he mentioned Tony Ryall ignoring concerns raised by health groups about potential conflicts of interest when he appointed former National MP Katherine Rich to the Health Promotion Agency. Rich is the chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council whose roles include lobbying for the alcohol, tobacco and grocery-food industries.

I must admit having a soft spot for Rich.  She was National’s spokesperson on welfare at the time of Don Brash’s Orewa speech and refused to give full support to his tough of beneficiaries policies.  She was demoted for her efforts.  Such principled behaviour by a National Politician is a rare thing.

But her current role presents to my view a clear conflict of interest.  Her work for the FGC is to represent commercial interests involved in the sale of food and alcohol.  The function of the Health Promotion Agency is set out in its enabling legislation, and includes a requirement that it leads and supports activities that promote health and wellbeing and encouraging healthy lifestyles and prevents disease, illness, and injury.  It has a specific alcohol related function of giving advice and making recommendations to government, government agencies and others on the sale, supply, consumption, misuse, and harm of alcohol so far as those matters relate to the HPA’s general functions.

Maybe there is some clever legal opinion that says something different but I cannot see how Rich can represent corporate interests and our interests at the same time.  But section 62(2)(d) of the Crown Entities Act 2004 says that someone has a conflict in a matter if they may be directly or indirectly interested in the matter.  The FGC must be interested in the activities of the HPA.  The way I see it nothing could be clearer.

Anyone so interested must disclose it.  And they are not meant to vote or even take part in the discussion concerning any matter they have an interest in.

It appears from questions asked by Kevin Hague in Parliament this week that no disclosure by Rich has been made.

Jonathan Coleman, who must rank up with Chris Finlayson as one of the most obnoxious of tories was asked about these clear conflicts by the Green’s Kevin Hague in the house.

It appears that Coleman had asked the Ministry of Health to review the HPA’s minutes to see if Rich had declared a conflict.  Coleman was upset because Hague was asking so many questions about the subject.  I thought that this is precisely what an opposition Member of Parliament should be doing.

The exchange included the following:

Kevin Hague: Can he confirm that Katherine Rich, acting in her role on the board of the Health Promotion Agency, has never declared a conflict of interest with any specific agenda item, or withdrawn from discussion or participation on any agenda item?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: This is going to get very tedious. We have covered this in the previous 59 questions, but the answer is still no.

Kevin Hague: What actions will he take, given that the Health Promotion Agency minutes and Katherine Rich’s own statements show that she has never recused herself from a meeting or a discussion of the Health Promotion Agency board, in which she has an interest, which she is obliged to do under section 66(a) of the Crown Entities Act 2004?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I will take exactly the same actions I have outlined in the previous 59 answers.

Kevin Hague: How does the Minister reconcile the answer he has just given the House, and his continued acceptance of Ms Rich taking part in Health Promotion Agency board discussions on board agenda items about tobacco and alcohol, with section 66(a) of the Crown Entities Act, which says: “A member who is interested in a matter relating to a statutory entity—(a) must not vote or take part in any discussion or decision of the board or … otherwise participate in any activity of the entity that relates to the matter;”?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Because under section 67(1) of the Crown Entities Act, it states: “The board must notify the responsible Minister of a failure to comply with section 63 or section 66, and of the acts affected, as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the failure.”, and I have had no such notification.

So if a board fails to do its job and notify a failure then all is ok?

Rich is mentioned in Dirty Politics.  One of the many allegations was that Tony Falkenstein, an anti obesity campaigner, was targeted by the Whaleoil blog was attacked at the request of Rich.

According to the Herald:

In Dirty Politics, Hager claimed Mr Falkenstein was written about after his name appeared on an advertisement seeking out people with Type 2 Diabetes. The advertisement, which sought people for a possible Australian class action against soft drink companies, was sent by Mrs Rich to Mr Graham, and then to Slater for his website, he claimed.

Mr Hager claimed emails showed website posts attacking Mr Falkenstein included the line “3 hits smashing him good and proper” with each described as a “KR hit”.

Mr Hager claimed another email had Mr Graham telling Slater: “Coke keeps sending stuff to KR expecting her to do something (where we come in). Hit pending.” Mr Hager claimed at least one post was also written on Fonterra’s behalf, again through the Food and Grocery Council. A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola said it would take “a bit of time” to respond to the allegations and offered no further comment. A Fonterra spokesman said “we have never, directly or indirectly, requested or paid for posts on the Whale Oil blog”.

The repercussions are important.  Corporate attacks on scientists can never be in the public interest.  You just have to think about climate change to provide an example.  The world should have as its first priority the finding of solutions to this most threatening of developments.  Yet commercial interests seem to be uppermost in what needs to be achieved, not what is in the best interests of the planet.

58 comments on “Dirty Politics and the health advocates”

  1. Ad 1

    The scale of the forces aligned against major food companies – including our own – has to be seen to be believed. New Zealand’s principle export, by volume and value, is fat. Dairy fat in all its forms. Followed by meat. One of our highest exports by value is alcoholic drinks. It takes quite some marketing to defend this against factual opposition.

    NZ universities here are exceeding strapped for cash and turn away big-dairy and big-alcohol research funding at their peril. Some such as Lincoln and Massey Palmerston North would struggle to exist without that funding.

    And who would argue against New Zealand’s Number One economic addiction enabler – Fonterra? It’s a smart marketer that have their product condoned for free delivery to children by the Education Department.

    • b waghorn 1.1

      So you are against milk in schools?

      • Paul 1.1.1

        Milk in schools is ok, but there is better food we could be providing.
        I’d prefer to see fresh fruit and vegetables provided.
        I just don’t think we should rely on corporate charity as it comes with a price.
        Better that the nutrition of our young citizens is provided by the state.

      • Ad 1.1.2

        No.
        You missed the point.
        Do the counterfactual;
        – which university in NZ has a similar scaled programme going into any school it wanted?
        – which food professor has a marketing department or corporate affairs unit to counterattack?
        – how many Government departments are focused on holding Big Ag to account, rather than focussing entirely on propping them up?

        Dairy doesn’t just control the economy. They command public policy, funding, ideas, diplomacy, politicians, whole regional economies, and are on their way to breaking our currency.

        Resisting Big Ag in this country is heroic and pretty close to futile.

      • phillip ure 1.1.3

        then there was that experiment @ auckland uni..some yrs back..

        ..where human subjects were given large amounts of dairy..in experiments funded by fonterra..

        ..them attempting to prove how healthy their product is..

        ..funny story..the medical-supervisors pulled the plug on the experiment..

        ..because the human subjects were just getting sicker and sicker..

        ..from the foul muck..

        http://whoar.co.nz/2012/free-school-milk-in-classrooms-ed-as-we-kill-our-kids-with-kindness-eh/

        • Psycho Milt 1.1.3.1

          I’d be interested to see any evidence that this disastrous and unethical experiment existed anywhere outside of your own head – got a link?

    • RedLogix 1.2

      New Zealand’s principle export, by volume and value, is fat.

      Which may be a positive. Saturated fats it turns out may not be quite the evil it has been portrayed as. The problem is not the fat itself, but other co-factors in our diet and lifestyles which cause our bodies to process saturated fats incorrectly.

      There is now a whole line of thinking which points to the industrial hydrogenated vegetable oil, poly unsaturated fats as a real problem.

      • Ad 1.2.1

        The likelihood of having that debate with Big Ags degree of academic, political, and marketing control is ZERO.

        • RedLogix 1.2.1.1

          Exactly. More or less the point I was trying to make below – that the ongoing debacle where corporate interests corrupted the climate change issue – are being repeated here as well.

          And that there are lessons to be learnt.

    • New Zealand’s principle export, by volume and value, is fat. Dairy fat in all its forms. Followed by meat. One of our highest exports by value is alcoholic drinks.

      The first two are excellent, healthy, high-quality foods, and the third mostly consists of tasty and refreshing drinks that include an enjoyable recreational drug. We should be proud to be exporting these things.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Interesting. It’s another quieter more insidious battle, with many similar features to the one being fought by the fossil carbon industries.

    People are quite rapidly waking up to the fact that most items in the middle rows of a supermarket, the stuff in tins, packets or bottles – are not real food. And this must terrify the big food companies whose profits derive from these shelves.

    And if we thought climate science was fraught, it turns out that determining optimum human nutrition – in purely scientific terms – is a big confusing challenge as well. There is a welter of apparently conflicting advice and ideas coming from the scientists, so much so that people really have no simple way to decide what it means.

    Waiting for the science (maybe several more decades) to iterate to a definite answer is not an option – people need to eat. In practise we are seeing a range of paths being followed, from the vegan non-meat options through to the paleo ideas. And while it’s easy to get distracted by the differences between these approaches, what they generally DO have in common is a rejection of processed foods and the standard FDA food pyramid.

    Human nutrition is a complex, and highly political topic. It has ramifications right through society crossing the paths of agronomics, economics, health and social justice. It is something we all have an opinion on. And yet the science of optimum diet is perhaps more or less where climate science was in about the early 90’s – a lot of theories, data and ideas, but many complex relationships remained to be understood.

    And yet this is one issue which does affect us all. It’s not like worrying how much sea-level will rise long after we are dead. We are going to see much more of this culture battle yet.

  3. NZJester 3

    So as long as they stack that board with people who are willing to look the other way while she ignores section 66(a) of the Crown Entities Act 2004 there is no problem with her obvious conflict of interest? #teamkey obviously has New Zealand well-being firmly in hand. (choking sound from their firm hands on our well-beings neck)

    • Tautoko Mangō Mata 3.1

      About two and a half years ago Isaac Davidson wrote this in the NZHerald:

      “Prime Minister John Key has already defended the appointment of Mrs Rich – who is chief of the Food and Grocery Council – when it was pointed out that she was head of an influential lobby group.

      The council has lobbied on behalf of the food and beverage industry against proposals to reduce salt and sugar in food, and against the mandatory inclusion of folic acid in bread.

      Mr Key said it was important that the board had a range of views.

      Alcohol watchdogs have previously criticised Mrs Rich’s placement on the agency’s establishment board, saying she was the most outspoken defender of the alcohol industry and its right to sell booze cheaply and at all hours.

      The agency, which would produce promotions on nutrition, injury and disease prevention, was chaired by Dr Lee Mathias, a former nurse and deputy chair of the Auckland District Health Board. Dr Mathias was also electoral chair for National MP Sam Lotu-Iiga.

      Another board member, insurance broker Jamie Simpson, was electoral chair for Cabinet Minister Gerry Brownlee.”
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10815974

      It appears to me to be a deliberate ploy by the National Party to stack these “advisory” boards with their own puppets. There appears to be little understanding of the concept of “conflict of interest”.

      • mickysavage 3.1.1

        Thanks TMM.

        I wondered about Simpson. I could not understand what benefit there would be in having an insurance broker on a board which is meant to promote healthy lifestyles.

      • Tracey 3.1.2

        How many on the board? How many were electoral chairs for any MPs on the left? Given the PM wants a wide range of views.

      • Hanswurst 3.1.3

        Mr Key said it was important that the board had a range of views.

        There we see Key mixing his categories woefully again, and being allowed to get away with it, despite not having remotely addressed the issue. “Views” are not even remotely the same thing as “interests”.

  4. vto 4

    The corporatisation of our world is the biggest threat to our lives. Corporates act, and gladly declare that they act, with one sole purpose in mind – to make profit.

    As such all other aspects of society are ignored – aspects such as health, environment, ethics, the list goes on … all these things are ignored. Profit is the sole motive.

    Rich, as the head of the FGC, has this profit motive as the sole driver, and as such she cannot possibly take on another role such as that outlined by you mr savage.

    Corporatisation of our society is at the root of most all current problems in the world I would suggest. It is growing too, like an ever-expanding bubble. Best example being the corporate world’s tireless effort to get us all into the TPPA. Even bester example is having a corporate Prime Minister like we do. These are indicators that this is peaking as a phenomenon.

    Corporates certainly have their place in the world but it is grossly over-placed at the moment. They are good for making plastic buckets and other sundry meaningless things… and that’s about it. Corporates must be kept out of all the important things in life.

    • Paul 4.1

      Her conflict of interest was highlighted by Nigel Latta

      http://tvnz.co.nz/nigel-latta/s1-ep6-video-6060553

    • RedLogix 4.2

      The corporatisation of our world is the biggest threat to our lives.

      I don’t think you can argue that corporates are an inherent, essential evil either. The problem to my mind is that once they reach a certain size and can operate on a global scale they start to find ways of escaping democratic accountability altogether.

      This is evident for instance in the challenges being faced by even very big nations like the USA and the EU block in finding ways to get big corporates to actually pay tax – because in the absence of a global scale authority that can impose uniform world-wide rules – the corporate can usually just find another tax zone somewhere that will offer them a better deal. A race to the tax bottom as it where.

      • b waghorn 4.2.1

        ‘Find another tax zone’ surely they are not sneaking the money out in suit cases so a government must be able to get an accurate idea of how much money a corperate is making and moving out of any given country.

        • RedLogix 4.2.1.1

          Try using google (ironically enough itself one of the worst offenders) on the topic. Lots of heavyweight articles. Try this one:

          The global headquarters of Endo International is so new that, apart from a few desktop computers, the most visible purchase to date is the Nespresso machine in the kitchen. Located in the basement of a Georgian house in central Dublin, the company, which makes branded and generic medicines, does not even have a brass plate on the door.
          “We are just getting started,” says Blaine Davis, senior vice-president for corporate affairs, who will run the office with a skeleton staff on behalf of a group with annual sales of $2.6bn.

          Endo’s arrival in Fitzwilliam Square is part of one of the biggest trends in global mergers and acquisitions – a practice known as inversion. By moving their headquarters to another country, US companies are able to slash their tax rate.

          http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/d9b4fd34-ca3f-11e3-8a31-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3L3pe7x3a

        • Ad 4.2.1.2

          They have the entire central public service working for them already.
          And they are not particularly mobile because almost all their shareholders reside here.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.3

          they are not sneaking the money out in suit cases so a government must be able to get an accurate idea of how much money a corperate is making and moving out of any given country.

          Nope. The rules have been set up so that the government doesn’t know where any of a countries money is, who has it or how much tax they should be paying on it. That’s why whenever you see a government books that covers such things it’s only ever and estimate.

      • vto 4.2.2

        Yes, it is the corporates reach into other aspects of life that is the problem. They have become too large and too powerful. The profit motive has subsequently leached into other aspects of life, to our detriment. For example, river health dictated by corporate profit requirements

        The other problem of course is that stupid tories do not see this. They think the current situation is some kind of natural order – duh

      • vto 4.2.3

        RL a bit further: “I don’t think you can argue that corporates are an inherent, essential evil either. The problem to my mind is that once they reach a certain size and can operate on a global scale they start to find ways of escaping democratic accountability altogether.”

        Well essentially the main problem is their sole purpose – making a profit. It is way way too shallow and empty to enable such entities to take responsible positions in society, like they try to do.

        Their problem is their very nature.

        • RedLogix 4.2.3.1

          Brian Fallow in the Herald this morning points to some recent think pieces on this exact topic – the 40 year fetish of maximising ‘shareholder value’ to the detriment of all else.

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/personal-finance/news/article.cfm?c_id=12&objectid=11368254

          It is of course nothing that the left has not been saying all along – but now even big business is starting to wake up. Maybe.

        • greywarshark 4.2.3.2

          vto
          They are way to shallow and empty to take responsible positions in society.
          And the corporates have been aided by their boys and girls in politics introducing laws that allow them to be treated as equals with individuals, giving them the right to plead equally with a human. Which is an Alice approach. No way can their power and resources be the same as an ordinary individual.

    • Paul 4.3

      Dealing with the corporate takeover.

      Interview with Chris Hedges at The Earth at Risk 2014 Conference and the moral imperative of resistance through non-violent direct action and mass movements of sustained civil disobedience.

      Inspiring and depressing – if that’s possible.

    • greywarshark 4.4

      http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday
      There was an interesting interview by Kim Hill and Jane Gleeson-White? this morning on Radionz at 9.05am on corporates.

  5. coaster 5

    I dont beleive there is one diet that will be good for all, our bodies are all differsnt and have different needs at different stages in life.

    milk in schools is a great idea, in that it gives kids who dont get any or enough of this type of food. It is not in all schools, and its not compulsary for ghe students to have it.

    the big problem I see is tht it is cheaper to bye unhealthy processed food than it is ghe natural hezlthy option. Making unhealthy food more expensive is not the answer, as you take away the ability for many ro be able to afford to eat.
    growing your own is not a realistic answer inthis age where both parents work either, due to the time required to grow your own.

    there needs to be more emphasis put on lowering the price of unpacked foods.

    • batweka 5.1

      Lots to agree with there, except for the last bit. Food is expensive to grow, can’t really get around that. Better to run the economy so that people have enough income to afford good food.

  6. Atiawa 6

    I don’t get how tv one & three news allows the sponsor of a supposed news segment, namely the money/sharemarket report, to front that piece with their own people,and placing their own spin and interests at the forefront of the report.

    ” Lets go to ? ? from ASB securities to get todays business/sharemarket update ”

    Television one & three should be ” cutting to ” someone independent, rather than an employee of the bank.

    • tc 6.1

      Not gunna happen as both are owned by corporate interests, tv3 by oz equity funds and tv1 via our corpratocracy shonkey govt.

      Thats why lickspittles like rawdon, hosking, wood, garner, gower etc work there as they would have been booted out of an independant broadcaster as they are sockpuppets not journalists.

  7. …the treatment of scientists in New Zealand.

    It’s true that scientists are under increasing pressure from politicians and corporates, but please don’t mistake public health advocates for scientists. Even the ones based in universities are social scientists at best, and their assertions should be treated with scepticism.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    But her current role presents to my view a clear conflict of interest.

    Not only that but it also shows just how corrupt National are. There’s plenty of other people that National could have appointed to that role but they went with one of their mates instead.

    Maybe there is some clever legal opinion that says something different but I cannot see how Rich can represent corporate interests and our interests at the same time.

    She can’t but that’s not why she’s in both positions. She’s there to represent corporate interests and nothing else. It’s part of the ongoing shift to NZ becoming an oligarchy that the 4th Labour Government started in 1984.

    Coleman was upset because Hague was asking so many questions about the subject. I thought that this is precisely what an opposition Member of Parliament should be doing.

    It’s what every single member of parliament should be doing. The fact that half of them aren’t simply because they’re National shows that they’re not fit for the role of MP.

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Because under section 67(1) of the Crown Entities Act, it states: “The board must notify the responsible Minister of a failure to comply with section 63 or section 66, and of the acts affected, as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the failure.”, and I have had no such notification.

    What’s the chances that he’s told them not to inform him?

  9. joe90 9

    Regulatory capture at its finest.

    Now, in a decision making process described as “shrouded in secrecy,” the CIHR is implementing changes that risk pitting one institute against the other as their budgets are cut in half.

    The other half of the money is being pooled into a common fund, and to access that money the institutes will have to compete with each other, and the scientists will have to knock on doors to find matching external funding.

    It’s a requirement that has raised particular concerns at the Institute for Aboriginal People’s Health, where researchers fear they have few options for finding those matching funds.

    “Unfortunately for aboriginal people, we don’t really have many organizations we can leverage with,” said Rod McCormick, who holds the B.C. Chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. “I don’t think it’s a secret that the Harper government wants us to get our funding from resource industries. But many of these resource industries are the cause of many of our health problems so to get funding from them would be problematic.”

    Others have echoed that concern.

    “We also came to understand that our work would require substantial investment by industry partners that we simply couldn’t attract or that would not be acceptable to Aboriginal communities,” wrote Charlotte Loppie, professor at the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria. “We simply can’t justify why we must partner with the very industries that are harming them or their fellow nations.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/scientists-will-be-forced-to-knock-on-doors-under-health-research-grant-changes-1.2858862

  10. Macro 10

    Just to throw a spanner in the works…..

    “The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, but a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming.”

    “Two recent peer-reviewed studies calculated that, without severe cuts in this trend, agricultural emissions will take up the entire world’s carbon budget by 2050, with livestock a major contributor. This would mean every other sector, including energy, industry and transport, would have to be zero carbon, which is described as “impossible”. The Chatham House report concludes: “Dietary change is essential if global warming is not to exceed 2C.” My bold.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/03/eating-less-meat-curb-climate-change
    We are going to have to eat less meat and produce less milk. And NZ is right in the firing line on this, at Lima, right now, as the rest of the world wakes up to the fact that NZ has done “f**k all” in reducing GHG and in fact we are 35% above where we said we would be.
    http://hot-topic.co.nz/nz-pushing-the-world-to-go-beyond-2-degrees/

    • Colonial Rawshark 10.1

      NZ is too small to make any difference, etc.

    • batweka 10.2

      “We are going to have to eat less meat and produce less milk”

      We need to separate out food from growing commodities for profit. Supporting farmers in how to make a living from growing food instead of commodities should be a high priority. So should shifting to regenerative agriculture (less cattle, raise them in perennial pasture that sequesters carbon and plant more trees) and relocalising food production.

      Yes, to reducing dairy and meat consumption, but what are we going to eat instead? Got an analysis of the emissions from agribusiness monocropping grains and legumes?

      • Actually due to the inefficiencies in feeding livestock, reducing their numbers would make more farming space available for feeding humans not less, so there’s currently no need for intensified crop farming. (Not that agribusiness won’t try)

        • batweka 10.2.1.1

          you’re still talking about growing commodoties though. Doesn’t matter if it’s cattle or corn, it’s all unsustainable and all creates AGW. Time to change.

          • Matthew Whitehead 10.2.1.1.1

            Now you’re claiming that the net change in emissions has no effect because you’re still emitting something.

            If we stop using land to farm livestock, we can EITHER use that land to sink carbon by growing more trees, OR we can use it to generate clean electricity, OR several other things. And by not artificially increasing populations of certain animals, we inherently reduce emissions all on its own.

            There is no way to argue that the combination of these two doesn’t help push the equation on AGW towards a more sustainable climate.

            • batweka 10.2.1.1.1.1

              Are we talking at cross purposes? I don’t know what your first sentence refers to but I’m pretty sure that it’s not something I am claiming.

              My original point was that stopping eating meat/dairy isn’t the easy solution that some claim. The analyses being used are all unsustainable farming models based on growing commodities for export. That’s extractive farming and it’s pissing in the wind to think it will make much difference to AGW and other urgent environmental issues because it’s based on a worldview that is inherently incompatible with living within our means.

              We need to shift to localised economies where farmers can grow food for people to eat rather than being forced to grow commodities for global markets that are doing weird shit with pricing and carbon counting and sfa about the approaching crisis (there’s a daft conversation happening today in OM about growing fake milk to replace dairy). Localised systems have mulitple benefits which are interrelated and this makes them far more resilient and sustainable.

    • … NZ is right in the firing line on this, at Lima…

      Actually, it’s not. Grass-fed livestock have little impact compared to other types. What NZ is facing isn’t the prospect of climate change regs forcing large-scale destruction of our agricultural sector, it’s the prospect of being one of few large-scale producers of a premium product.

      • Macro 10.3.1

        You obviously didn’t read the link to Lima. where NZ is under intense pressure to get real and do something about its climbing emissions. So sorry you frankly don’t know what your talking about.
        Yes ours is a highly inefficient method of producing the food requirements for the world, and we are – as usual – only serving the rich and not the poor with the produce we produce. Selfish and unconcerned is the NZ psyche it appears.

        • Psycho Milt 10.3.1.1

          The fact that National are pretending to be world leaders on climate change while making no commitments, implementing a fake ETS, and presiding over rapidly-increasing emissions while encouraging development of fossil-fuel industries, is irrelevant to the fact that the Guardian’s claims about agriculture don’t apply to NZ’s grass-fed livestock. The vegos’ utopia of humanity consuming highly-processed soy-based shit and calling it food isn’t going to happen, and NZ would be stupid to invest heavily in that pipe dream.

  11. The most obvious form of information control is the Govts. complete failure to address the obesity crisis, has forced them to now back academics who promote obesity as “normal” and condemn anyone with a more concerned opinion as “fat bashing”

    And they make sure these grant bludging sell outs get loads of media coverage.

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