Wilkinson's waffle | The Jackal

7 Jan 2012

Wilkinson's waffle

There's been a lot of concern about National's proposed Food Bill (PDF), with over 30,000 people signing an online petition against the law change.

National is promoting the bill under the guise of food safety, when their motivation is entirely different. There's no question that the bill proposes to restrict and regulate people's basic right to grow and exchange food... but it will also attempt to place strict regulation on plant diversity in agriculture, which will unfairly impact organically produced food.

Mass produced food is a multi-billion dollar industry, with huge potential for growth that's greatly restricted by local production. The main industrial food producers like Monsanto with their terminator seeds, are aligned with the World Trade Organisation... who promote their globalisation through various treaties specifically designed to promote transaction-based policies... where the profit motive is king.

The WTO adheres to something called Codex Alimentarius (Latin for "Book of food"), which is designed to serve the interest of global agribusiness, while actively undermining the rights of local producers and the general consumer.

Despite the obvious allegiances National has with these global conglomerates, today, Kate WIlkinson made a disingenuous press release about the changes her food bill proposes:

Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson says opponents of the Government’s draft Food Bill are scaremongering about its impacts.
"Much of what they claim is untrue and causing many people unnecessary concern," Ms Wilkinson says.
“The Bill is designed to simplify 30-year-old food safety regulations and ultimately aims to reduce our high level of food-borne illness and corresponding economic cost. It’s estimated food-borne illness caused a $162 million loss to the New Zealand economy in 2010."

Unfortunately the food bill will do little to reduce the main area where food-borne illnesses are derived from; mass-produced and imported food. It proposes to simply track where imported food originates, something that's already in effect. The bill is simply designed to restrict the local producer so that the industrialized process can gain more market share.

This is entirely the opposite of what needs to happen, with transportation costs making local produce far more cost effective. Falling yields attributed to climate change also make local produce a no-brainer.

Consideration should be given to security of supply, especially in regards to dwindling oil reserves. Additional expenses attributed to packaging, refrigeration and transportation to retail outlets all around the globe mean the consumer ultimately pays more and the environment is damaged. Some have estimated that it now costs seven times the energy yielded to produce food, which is highly unsustainable.

Despite the obvious ramifications of restricting the small local producer through idiotic legislation that favours mass production, Wilkinson's rhetoric goes into overdrive:

Ms Wilkinson says the Bill’s opponents are whipping up fears that small traders such as community gardens, food co-ops, heritage seed banks, farmers markets, bake sales and roadside fruit and vegetable stalls will be caught up in costly red tape.
“That is simply not true. This Bill won’t in any way affect people’s right to grow food and to then exchange, sell or trade it.
“Small traders such as those running roadside stalls or selling their own horticultural produce at markets are generally classed as low risk and will not need to register. They will simply receive a free ‘food handler guidance’ information pamphlet.

The bill includes all of the food businesses she has listed above in its current draft... and also includes people "directly or peripherally involved in facilitating the trade of food, such as organisers of food markets or events". Here's who is included:

The following provides a summary of food sectors that are subject to food control plans under this schedule:
(a) food retail sector where food businesses prepare or manufacture and sell food:
(b) food service sector (except for those categories of food service listed below as subject to other risk-based measures):
(c) manufacturers of commercially sterilised food products:
(d) manufacturers of dairy products:
(e) manufacturers of dry mix powders:
(f) manufacturers of food for vulnerable populations:
(g) manufacturers of fresh ready-to-eat salads:
(h) manufacturers of meals or meal components:
(i) manufacturers of meat, poultry, or fish products:
(j) manufacturers of non-shelf-stable sauces, spreads, dips, soups, broths, gravies, or dressings:
(k) manufacturers of perishable grain-based products:
(l) manufacturers of processed egg products:
(m) manufacturers of vegetable proteins or other protein products:
(n) processors of herbs or spices:
(o) processors of nuts or seeds.

It's up to the Ministers discretion or the Governor General, by Order in Council made under section 356, for any special dispensation to be granted for any food business for it not to be included under the proposed law changes. That means all the food sectors listed above are automatically included.

Despite this fact being glaringly obvious, Wilkinson delivers up another serving of propaganda:

“Food grown at home for personal or family consumption, or given away to friends is excluded from the measures in the Bill,” Ms Wilkinson says.
The new regime will have three regulatory levels of safety based on risk, with those food businesses classed as high risk (such as restaurants or baby food manufacturers) having the highest level of requirements. Businesses presenting a medium level risk (such as bakeries and pre-packaged food processors) would be subject to national programmes (a more flexible and generic approach), with those presenting low risk receiving food handler guidance.

The "three regulatory levels of safety based on risk" are not written into the bill... so Wilkinson is being dishonest. Her obfuscation completely ignores the fact that the seeds required to grow your home garden are included under the proposed bill... with a potential for further legislative restrictions easily implemented. The food bill effectively lets the government do whatever it wants to irrespective of property rights and many other laws that currently govern New Zealand.

National has a sinister motive behind their proposed law changes, which gives special powers to private sector employees to enter any premises deemed a food business, without a legally obtained warrant being required. They're also allowed to use any device without restriction to undertake their fascist agenda.

The power that the proposed bill gives to the government means the Minister could at any stage decree for any reason that any food item be removed from all businesses throughout New Zealand.

Therefor the proposed food bill should be considered a move away from democracy and towards totalitarianism... and that's simply unacceptable.