We need to change our habits

In my opinion

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by Colin Creasey

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on a recent letter from farmer and EV driver, Jason Byvelds, and his response to an article by Kelvin Hodges. Let me begin with saying that I have the utmost respect for farmers, particularly those who drive an EV, which I assume that he purchased before Doug Ford removed all of the purchase incentives. Speaking of the removal of green incentives, I just read where his cancellation of wind farm projects cost us all $231 million. Way to look after our tax money, Doug.

I digress. I would like to add another perspective to the claim that we couldn’t grow enough food without the use of synthetic nitrogen. Under our current system, that may well be true. However, when we waste about 40% of the food that we grow, would it not be helpful to first reform a system that rejects anything with natural blemishes, or that doesn’t fit a certain size and shape standard? I wonder how much farm acreage that would save.

As for the put down of those of us who prefer to eat organic food, we do it because we prefer not to ingest insecticides and herbicides used to grow non-organic crops, and not necessarily because we don’t like synthetic nitrogen being used. We accept the fact that a certain percentage of these organic crops succumb to the ravages of insect pests, which is presumably why they cost a little more, even though the farmer isn’t paying for the pesticides/herbicides, nor the equipment to apply them. It is also easier on the planet to grow food naturally.

Another item regarding the need for so much farm land is with the raising of cattle. Huge amounts of farmland are devoted to growing food to feed cattle, not people. We could dramatically reduce the need for farmland by moving towards a vegetarian diet, even if for only a couple of days a week. It is all very well to rant on about there not being enough farmland to go around, but that is because of the current system that we use. We have allowed ourselves to be convinced that the only way that we have any hope of feeding ourselves is with industrial farming. Most of the world doesn’t do that. I understand that some of those countries cannot feed themselves that way, but a lot of that problem comes from the Monsanto’s of this world who convince farmers to farm their way, rather than their traditional way. The result is that the farmers then become beholding to the giant agricultural companies for their seed and fertilizer, which, after a few years of record harvests, requires them to use more and more of their products as the organisms in the soil disappear. At that point, the farmer can no longer afford to pay, and hundreds, if not thousands, of them have committed suicide. Part of the food problem is the predatory practices of the giant agricultural companies.

Finally, there are the attacks on Green Party policy, and on Kelvin himself. First of all, Kelvin hasn’t represented the Federal Green Party in the last 3 elections. It has been Lorraine Rekmans who did. I should know, as I was on her campaign team for the last 2 of them. As for Green Party policy, its policies are totally based on science, and what we need to be doing to preserve our planet for future generations. Our neoliberal, consumer-led society is depleting the resources of this planet at an alarming rate, and the longer that we all take to recognize this, then the more difficult we are going to make it for future generations. Green Party policy recognizes this, and that the status quo is not an option. Some may not like the policy implications, but to ignore the reality of what is already around us is, in my opinion, foolish.

As most of your readers know from the recent discussions on climate science in this newspaper, you have to be careful about the source of your scientific information. You can’t always believe what some scientists say until you find out who has funded their studies. Populist policies will often go against scientific “facts” if those facts just happen to suit the status quo, and especially if there is ample evidence around us that indicate that these facts are erroneous.

The only way that you can know for sure is to check facts through independent information sources, or respected institutions. One should never blindly accept facts just because they align with their own way of thinking. The person who is truly thinking will check out both sides of the argument before coming to a conclusion. You can believe whatever you like, and if your life choices become harmful, but only to yourself, then that is your choice, but when it reaches a point when research begins to indicate that that way of thinking is becoming harmful to others, it is at that point that we should revisit our own prejudices.

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