Blog Archives

Milk, fruit and vegetables will eventually be imported, unless British food producers are fairly paid

milk farmers leaveThough 80% of all milk produced in the UK is consumed domestically, the NFU attributes the fall in price to the sanctions on Russia and weakening demand in Asia.

The FT reports that Asda also justified the low prices paid to farmers saying they were set by global supply and demand.

WHY?

First Milk, the farmer-owned group, one of the UK’s biggest dairy co-operatives, has suspended payments to around 1,200 farmers for two weeks. The company said that returns had fallen 50% in the past year and yet – the FT reports – farm costs are 36% higher than they were in 2007 and the single largest cost component of a dairy farm, animal feed, is more than 50% higher.

milk price fall                      Sources: Defra, DARD & DairyCo

A table from an 2007 overview: Snapshot of farming in the UK, on the BBC website (below), will be of interest to readers news to the subject. Recent price cuts mean that farmers are facing milk prices of just 20p a litre, the lowest since 2007 according to the NFU said, but the following graph indicates an earlier date.

milk prices graphmilk prices graph addendumMilk is now cheaper than bottled water, according to research by The Grocer, which recorded four-pint bottles of milk being sold for 89p by supermarkets Asda, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland.

‘Fiddling while Rome burns’, DEFRA promotes involvement with the volatile global casino: “It is important to remember that the long-term prospects are bright with exports at record levels.”

*

Is there any future for those who produce perishable food and are currently held to ransom – unless they join forces and demand prices covering production costs?

Secret State 8: there were least two ‘bute’ whistleblowers: denials and admissions

Michael Hart 3Cornish beef farmer Michael Hart asks: “Does anyone know why the Irish did DNA tests in first place, as I understand it is not routine policy?”

There was a ‘local’ whistleblower to thank for initiating this investigation

Ireland was the first EU state to carry out tests on the presence of horse meat in beef and make public the results. It was claimed that the initial investigation had been started due to a tip off from a whistle-blower from within the meat industry, but that has been denied by the FSAI, though later admitted by DEFRA secretary of state Owen Paterson.

whistleblowers 2‘The Grocer’ reports that, speaking in the House of Commons on the 11th February, Owen Paterson said: ‘The reason the Irish agency picked up this issue in the Irish plant was that it had local intelligence that there was a problem” . . . in other words someone did blow the whistle.

It was also reported in the FT that a former official said he helped draft a letter to the environment department (Defra), in April 2011. It warned that horsemeat could get into the food chain because of weaknesses in the passport scheme designed to prevent contamination by the anti-inflammatory drug known as bute.

The report adds: “UK food regulators have launched internal inquiries into claims that ministers were alerted over a year ago to the dangers of illegal horsemeat getting into the food chain”.

Several British farmers have contrasted the strict regime under which they have to operate with the apparently lax procedures of retailers and processors

The minister, the chief medical officer and some veterinary scientists have downplayed the health risk of bute to humans – generally failing to mention that the danger is of accumulation, rather than a single ‘dose’.

bute sachet3Michael Hart sent this picture of a sachet of bute medication (not clear because of reflective foil cover) which carried instructions which he felt indicated that bute accumulates to some extent in the body.

He asked: “Why am I as a farmer jumping through lots of hoops on traceability of sheep, pigs and cattle when clearly retailers and processors don’t really care about it, otherwise they would have found out a lot earlier than they did”.

 

DEFRA and other government departments, please note this article in The Grocer and resist corporate blandishments

The Grocer, not usually seen as a hotbed of radical protest, reports Monsanto GM  products implicated in ‘shocking’ new cancer study

The Grocer, a market-leading weekly magazine celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, is read by directors of the large multiples to independent retailers, wholesalers and suppliers, as well as growers, food processors, manufacturers, key opinion formers and the national media.

Yesterday its senior reporter, Elinor Zuke, wrote about a peer-reviewed study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Caen, which has just been published in the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, though a link to the study is not yet online there.

The research found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 Roundup resistant GM maize, or given water containing Monsanto’s Roundup at levels permitted in drinking water, over a two-year period, died significantly earlier than rats fed on a standard diet. Even rats exposed to the smallest amounts developed mammary tumours and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females, compared with 23 and 14 months respectively for a control group.

In 2008, in response to a Greenpeace press release, Monsanto made a statement on safety allegations related to transgenic maize NK603, published on its website.

Dr Michael Antoniou, molecular biologist at King’s College London, and a member of CRIIGEN, the independent scientific council which supported the Caen research, said: “This research shows an extraordinary number of tumours developing earlier and more aggressively – particularly in female animals. I am shocked by the extreme negative health impacts. The rat has long been used as a surrogate for human toxicity. All new pharmaceutical, agricultural and household substances are, prior to their approval, tested on rats. This is as good an indicator as we can expect that the consumption of GM maize and the herbicide Roundup, impacts seriously on human health”.

Roundup is widely available in the UK, and recommended on Gardeners Question Time, but the team found that even the lowest doses of Roundup, which fall well within authorised limits in drinking tap water, were associated with severe health problems.

A consultation led by DEFRA’s  Green Food Project  recommended as recently as 10 July 2012 that GM must be reassessed as a possible solution:

 

As yet, GM maize is not consumed directly by humans in the UK and Europe but is widely used in animal feed without the requirement for GM labelling.

A video link was given to a film – under three minutes long – in which an overview of the situation and research is given in plain language and the affected rats seen live.