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

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?

Public Domain Banana Breeding on Trinidad

How I ended up viewing this video is a long story.  You know how sometimes you think about one thing, that leads to another, and pretty soon you end up some place totally unexpected?

Anyway, bananas are sometimes an example held up as to why we need genetic engineering.  Banana breeding is very difficult, and has been pursued by experts for many years.  Habitats for wild bananas, and crucially the bat that was their primary pollinator, have mostly been destroyed by man.  We also don’t have enough germplasm in store in genebanks.  We are reaching the end of life of the ‘cavandish’ banana we all know because of disease pressure.

The solution we are all told is that we have to accept GM bananas.

Of course a major part of the problem is we insist on intensively cultivating monocultures of bananas in chemical intensive environments, causing many of the the disease problems.

Here’s a small group of people trying to find a new public domain solution, targeted towards small farmers.