Some of you will have seen the sensational ‘news’ that the New Zealand government is planning to introduce a law that "takes away the human right to grow food". Hopefully you’ll also realise that good ‘ol everything-is-a-conspiracy Alex Jones, who has the Infowars site where the above-linked article has been posted, has a very strong tendency to instantly hop on anything that’ll make a headline, without too much investigation….
The reality is that the NZ government has been taken somewhat aback by the overwhelming negative response to the bill — and they’ve come to realise that their centralised decision-making with Food Bill 160-2 would unintentionally impact aspects of New Zealander’s lives that they hadn’t considered. The government minister in charge of 160-2, Kate Wilkinson, seems to be genuinely seeking to ensure there is not unintended collateral damage as a result of the 360-page document.
Yes, the NZ Government 160-2 Food Bill (see currently recommended amendments here) is a concern. And yes, it certainly looks like it needs to get reworked and further amended until it is no longer a risk to home gardeners, community gardens, farmers’ markets and anyone working with healthy, diverse, small scale systems. We certainly don’t want New Zealanders to see the kind of madness we’ve witnessed in the U.S. of A. of late, but, I think the bill, if worded thoughtfully, with objective input from a lucid, holistically-minded public, could not only protect consumers from the dangerous monocrop, nutrient deficient systems which favour pathogens (this was the original intent of the bill), but it could also go further — by adding impetus to the already-growing movement towards healthy polycultures by helping to incentivise the same.
Rather than shouting ‘conspiracy’ and thereby marginalising your impact, I think this is an excellent opportunity for New Zealanders to educate their government and fellow citizens about the importance of encouraging a diversity of soil life under our feet, so as to, in turn, ensure the foods we eat are not susceptible to the kind of horror-bacterias we’ve seen striking hard around the world within the industrial-food complex of late.
A reworked bill could go a long way towards ensuring small scale, localised, diverse systems get incubated and supported into existence. For example, if you’re a large-ish scale grower, and you see that if by changing your methods to become more localised and diverse you could fall under an annoying regulatory threshold, then you might just do that. If such a properly reworked bill was accompanied by a little holistic educational material, then I’d welcome it.
As I’ve shared before, it’s Big Agri who is significantly increasing risks to our health. And as I shared in the same article, when we suffer under their pathogen-filled hands we then often suffer a double indignity — in that we pay the price of their greed-blinded ignorance through increased regulations. New Zealanders now have an opportunity to spin this exasperating situation around, by ensuring that the bill focuses on the real perpetrators of nutrient deficient, pathogen-susceptible, chemically grown, monocrop, industrialised ‘foods’.
And, we have to learn to live without fossil fuels sooner or later. Given the oil intensity of food, and New Zealand’s awareness of its very vulnerable position in the energy market, hopefully the point can also be made that penalising unhealthy fossil-fuel intensive food systems should be the priority — and healthy, diverse low-carbon food systems should be supported in their stead.
If you’re a New Zealander, and you haven’t already, you can submit your petition against Food Bill 160-2 here. Or, much better yet, gather a few of your sensible and eloquent friends and have some meetings with your local councillors and (or, failing that) ensure it’s well covered by local media. Please don’t shout "conspiracy" — but do enunciate the great need to disincentivise dangerous, chemical-based monocrop systems in favour of incentivising healthy polycultural systems that build and develop soils and water tables, rather than deplete and contaminate them.
In short, if the original intention for Food Bill 160-2 was to protect the public from dangerous food systems, then just reword it until that is exactly what it does!