Western Leader : January 12th 2012
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Receive the long-term benefit use of Botox® to achieve softened lines and a reduced appearance of wrinkles. Food Bill: Sifting chaff from wheat PAT CHAT To contact Pat Booth email firstname.lastname@example.org or write care of this newspaper. All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication. Memo: The prime minister -- because, aptly in this case, he has a finger in most political pies. And Kate Wilkinson because she has national res- ponsibility for food safety -- which may prove to be a poisoned chalice! Why is it that every parlia- mentary bill involving food controls -- and notably alternative medicine -- produces the same reactions and fears, claims on the one hand of extreme need and on the other of international conspiracy and apparent fail- ure by the government to answer the critics? If it s not about Pharmac then it s something else. This time it s the contro- versial Food Bill -- what pol- itical commentator Bryce Edwards has labelled one of those low profile pieces of legislation that can quickly turn into a political hand grenade . So two views: Ontheone--andvery important -- hand: That a new Food Bill is needed urgently because parts of New Zealand s food chain are riddled with killing content, that we are apparently the source of concern among world health experts, that New Zealand has the highest rate of food poisoning among developed countries, that according to one food safety scientist we are the campylobacter and salmon- ella capital of the world. This assessment is taken from a New Zealand Herald editorial which reasonably enough says the government should clear up the Food Bill doubts . The editorial added what it obviously sees as top of the menu of food reform: Clearly 30 years of policing food safety largely through inspec- tion had not proved success- ful, especially in restaurants, cafes and takeaway bars. In 2012 88 percent of food poisoning cases emanate from that source. Pretty alarming stuff. Sort of and would you like campylobacter or salmonella with that sir? Question: If it s all so bad how come this bill, which has been before Parliament for more than a year and must be beyond its use-by date, has been lying around drawing flies all those months with all of us at such risk? On the other hand: Very concerned opponents claim that the bill has some rotting content -- like police acting as food safety officers raiding premises without a warrant, using all equipment they deem necessary including guns, that members of the private sector could also be food safety officers (eg, Mon- santo employees could raid premises including marae backed up by armed police) and that food safety officers will have immunity from criminal and civil pros- ecution. That version is from opponents warning emails that there is not much infor- mation in the media because the media aren t or can t talk about it. It will be snuck through faster than a greasy pig while we are on holidays in Janu- ary. Both those scare claims apparently reflect genuine concerns. But they re wrong. There s no sign of suggested censorship as the Herald s summary makes plain. And as for a sneaky January stunt, Parliament, now in recess, won t be back in business until the second week in February with a need to complete the traditional and usually lengthy debate in reply. Almost inevitably too there s a claim that these laws were not initially drafted by the New Zealand government but by lawyers employed by big international corporates . Interestingly, Bryce Edwards is flogging the same not-so-dead horse: The gov- ernment will be desperately trying to avoid saddling Playcentre cake stalls with the same compliance costs as supermarkets. (Absolutely right with knowledge of local homebake amateurs having to install industrial-style kitchens to meet the standards demanded by the men from the ministry, and worries about our local roadside stall with great jam and relishes to help fund the SPCA.) A supporter of Ooooby -- Out of our Own Backyards -- wrote to Kate Wilkinson: For many rural and some sub- urban people, roadside stands, farmers markets and similar outlets are the best source of reasonably-priced produce. If these small producers are forced to jump regulatory hurdles, or pay fees related to this trade, there will be strong incentive for them to stop this activity entirely. But Bryce Edwards went the Occupier way: It is not just a matter of common sense being applied though as with much of this type of legislation, our government is constrained by the harmonis- ation of regulations across national boundaries. This is the coal face of globalisation, one where large corporate interests and large economies call the shots. So maybe those apparent conspiracy theorists are not as way out as they might seem. I can just hear the PM reviving an old script that Phil Goff might remember: Show us the proof then, show us the proof. No argument, one or other group in the community is wrong and both should be better briefed on what, one way or another, is an import- ant issue. So should we. Another reason why more than the general public need some tutoring: A high pro- portion of the MPs are in Par- liament for a first term and don t even know where the MP loos are, much less the ins-and-outs of this bill since they played no part in the discussion process over the last year. They should do some quick homework so that they know public attitudes on the issues. As well both Labour and the Greens seem less certain in their stance over the bill and Kate ( the bill will in no way stop a proud Kiwi tra- dition of growing and swapping veggies with friends and neighbours -- it s focused on people selling for profit ) Wilkinson has so far failed to weed out the genu- inely concerned from lifetime conspiracy theorists. Have you? Ask your MP what they believe is the reasoning behind the bill. And if you want to see what the petitioners are on about, go to http://www.petitionon line.co.nz/petition/oppose-the- new-zealand-government- food-bill-160-2/1301 In the mailbag: How Ed would have liked it. I was so pleased to see your column about Geoff Chapple and the success of his national walkway. I remember when Ed opened a portion of it, I think near Meremere. He would have enjoyed the prospect of walking from one end to the other of New Zea- land. Thank you for that. Would it be possible for you to pass on to me Geoff s email as I would like to congratulate him? May I wish you a satisfac- tory and healthy New Year. My kind regards. -- June Hillary No, June, unfortunately I don t have Geoff s email address. Perhaps some reader has it on their file and I will pass it on so June can congratulate him in person and for such good reasons. But then per- haps Geoff takes this news- paper away for evening read- ing by candlelight in some bush hut.
January 10th 2012
January 13th 2012