Spam, Salt, Sugar, Spam, Spam, Fat and Spam

October 5, 2014 · Filed Under Food and Drink, Political, Science · Comment 

The Netherlands is a tiny country, but even still is the worlds second largest exporter of food.  Chances are, if you eat a tasteless tomato, cucumber or gouda cheese, that’s been imported, it’s probably from here.

When the WRR issues a report [in Dutch], a think tank which advises the government on food policy, the chances are good the consequences of this will be heard around the world.

The report goes into some detail on how production of meat and dairy are bad for the environment.  Basically the problem is the animal feed here is based largely on GMO soy imported from Latin America, at great expense to the environment and livelihoods of people there.  It’s then fed to the farm animals here, which live in factory farms and poop it out.   It’s then spread all over the country, which contaminates pretty much everything.

Many farmers are extremely unhappy, because there are actually EU rules on how much animal waste can be disposed of in this way, and they are regularly at or over these limits in the Netherlands.  These rules make it much more expensive for the farmers, because they have to export the waste to other countries.

As well as polluting the environment, diets based on this food are making people fat and causing health problems all over the world.  This type of food production is also one of the major contributors to global warming.

After a reasonably good general analysis of the problem, the report advises the Dutch government to use their influence around the world to oblige people to eat less dairy, meat, sugar, salt and ‘bad’ fats.

Where did the sugar, salt and fat come from?  As far as this report is concerned, it seems to have come out of the blue.  The report has a number of citations for different things, but nothing that seems to lead to any credible justification for this.  It just is, because, well they are a think tank and so must be awesome.

Of course trying to eat less salt, sugar and ‘bad’ fat, can only lead you to more industrial processed foods.  It’s no problem to make processed foods without these ingredients.  It may really taste bad, but when you make foods in a laboratory or factory, you can make it any way you want.  Small farmers on the other hand, depend on these ingredients.

Nothing in this report suggests people should eat more locally or naturally produced food.  Could it be that the people’s message, demanding higher quality and sustainable food, is being spammed by governments and the food industry?

Kokopelli Wins Baumaux Civil Case, But EU Seed Law Upheld

September 19, 2014 · Filed Under EU Seed Legislation, Political, Seeds · Comment 

In a case that’s now been going on for 10 years, a French appeals court finally decided for Kokopelli in the matter of civil damages.  This is according to a mail sent to Kokopelli’s newsletter mail list.  Please check the Kokopelli website for more information.

In short, Baumaux claimed that Kokopelli was violating the law by by failing to register their seeds, at the cost of 150 euros for each of their 14,500 varieties.  This according to Baumaux gave Kokopelli a larger number of varieties than Baumaux, and an unfair business advantage.  The judge decided there was no obstacle to Baumaux offering the same varieties if they choose, and the 150 euro registration fee was small in comparison to the damages claimed.

The judge did however reaffirm the legality of the EU seed law, and that Kokopelli was in violation of this.  This could have consequences for other court cases.

Alert: Fraudulent AVAAZ Campaign

July 24, 2014 · Filed Under General, Political · 1 Comment 

For a while now AVAAZ has been running a campaign about a ‘Global Seed Exchange’.  Emails promoting the exchange have claimed to have the support of over 20 organizations, including some located in Europe, and Vandana Shiva.  It’s all very vague.

Vandana Shiva has issued a statement denying any involvement.

There are now discussions involving a large number of European organizations, and it’s very unlikely any are involved.  We are all well connected by now.

At best AVAAZ has always been a very dubious organization, but donating to this campaign is throwing your money away.  Please help spread the word.

Back After a Pause and Updates

June 23, 2014 · Filed Under General, Political · Comment 

I haven’t been writing much lately, and I have lots of things to catch up on.  In the coming days and weeks I’ll start working on my backlog.

I’m sorry there have been some availability issues over the last few days.  I’ve switched to a service called Cloud Flare, and a configuration error meant the blog was unreachable for 48 hours or so.  One of the consequences of this change is the URL now has www in front.  Not my preference really, but a requirement of the current setup.  They say they are working on a technical solution so the www isn’t necessary, and when this happens, I will probably remove it again.

This change to an address with www caused the RSS feed to reset, so most of you probably got an announcement for new posts, even though they were just the old ones.

The reason for Cloud Flare is twofold.  First, now the blog is ‘in the cloud’, and is faster.  Not really exciting actually, but faster is better than slower!  The second reason are some security enhancements.  I’ve written before about hacking on this blog, and it’s really a serious problem.  Twice the blog has effectively be infected with malware, and went down for a period of time.  The source of this hacking is no secret.  Cloud Flare provided this nice graphic that illustrates the point well, for a representative 24 hours on my blog:

Screenshot from 2014-06-23 14:33:19

In case you thought all hacking on the Internet originated in Mongolia, there you go!  It’s really the US.

In this case, I’m pretty sure you can think Edward Snowden and NSA.

This hacking comes together with spam, either written in American English, from 10 years ago — mostly about tired things like Viagra, or it’s written in other languages and if you put them through Google translate, they translate like they were written in American English.  The spam follows all of the US rules for decency; like no 4-letter words but otherwise explicit language.  There’s absolutely no sensitivity to foreign cultures incorporated into the spam, and likewise no racial slurs or attacks on the cultures of others.  It’s incredibly obvious it all comes from the same source.

This also seems to go along with accusations that the US government forces software developers to put back doors into their products.  WordPress as well as PHP and Apache all seem to have a lot of obvious back doors that are not difficult to exploit.

For those of you aware of Internet issues, it’s also related to the US refusing to give up control of IANA, the authority that issues Internet address, which means the US has access to enough IP addresses in obscure places and embedded into the address space of others, that using filters to control the hacking is all but impossible.

Some of you may encounter problems leaving a comment or reaching the blog, because I do some IP filtering.  If Cloud Flare reduces the problem enough, I will take off my own filters and hopefully make the blog more accessible to more people.  In any case, please let me know if you have problems like this, so I can try to fix it.

Anyway, Cloud Flare has a system that monitors all of it’s customers websites simultaneously for hacking activity, and when it detects this, it filters those IP addresses for everyone else.  This is really the only defence against this kind of hacking, so let’s hope we see an improvement.  Already I’m a little doubtful.  I see a reduction in hacking, but it’s still pretty heavy.  A reduction is still better than nothing!

Seed Law Update

February 13, 2014 · Filed Under EU Seed Legislation, Political, Seeds · Comment 

I’ve had lots of questions about the status of the pending EU seed law, and there’s a lot of misinformation circulating, so let me try to put it into some perspective.

Committee Votes

The proposal was made by the EU Commission last May, and since then it’s been in the EU Parliament and EU Council.  What happens in the Council is not always very transparent, and it may be they have not been very active with it.  In any case, I’m not sure about the Council.

In the Parliament, it has been in two committees with a sort of joint competency; the environment committee (ENVI) and the agriculture committee (AGRI).  Some 1600 or so amendments have been submitted while in these committees, making it clear there’s a lot of opposition and disagreement.  Both committees have now passed resolutions calling for the measure to be rejected, and sent back to the Commission for redrafting.  The ENVI committee did this at the end of January, and the AGRI committee last Tuesday.  These resolutions are only advisory however, and now there will be a plenary vote in the main floor of the Parliament.  The Council would also have to agree for it to be returned to the Commission.

Plenary Vote

In the plenary, the resolutions calling for rejection can changed and amended.  The seed industry is lobbying hard to keep the current proposal, with only some minor changes.  I guess almost anything can happen in this vote.

In addition, while the tentative date for this vote is now 12 March, this is an indicative date, and delays are certainly possible, if not probable.

There is also the possibility the EU Commission could voluntarily withdraw the proposal, but this is not considered likely.

Elections

EU Parliament elections are in May.  Not only will we likely have different MEPs, who may be less friendly to our side of the argument, but after fresh elections they may be less receptive to public opinion.  The chance is very good the current Parliament will find reasons to delay this measure until after the elections, so that it can be considered again by the new Parliament.

If it is considered by the new Parliament, they may decide to return the same proposal back to committee, and start the whole process all over again.

Return to the Commission ASAP

While the seed industry thinks the proposal can be fixed with a few small changes, this is not the position of most seed related NGOs around Europe.  It is certainly not our position.  The current proposal is not without some good aspects, but overall it’s seriously flawed and should be rewritten.

The best option now is for it to be returned to the Commission as soon as possible.  There is also the uncertainty where this measure rests with the EU Council, and if it were returned to the Commission, the Council would stop working on it.  The Council is not thought to be friendly towards issues of biodiversity.

If it is returned to the Commission for redrafting, this is expected to be completed by 2016, and then the whole process will start over again, but hopefully with a better proposal to work with.

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