Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose
Photo: Journey Worker Productions, CC SA 3.0 (C)

Friday, 30 January 2015

Ausveg, digressing on to Big Agric and Big Chemmy

A quick look at Ausveg's press release and website. Good graphics, informative. Symbolising where their mind is at, Ausveg's publications have Barbaby Joyce on their covers.

Regarding the biosecurity risks, they claim that:

"The initiative proved particularly worrisome for the horticulture industry, as projects enacted by individuals without proper education and training could potentially cause biosecurity or food safety concerns in the horticulture sector".

There is no evidence for this given, nor calibration of the degree of comparative risk.
The press release goes on with the following paragraph, which appears to support it, but is actually a different point:

"Unfortunately, some community gardens in particular are simply not run to the same standards as professional horticultural operations, nor do they adhere to the same set of stringent checks and balances required of a commercial business. As a result, many community gardens are run down, and could potentially give the wrong impression of horticulture,” said Mr Churchill."


Im not sure modelling horticulture as Ausveg does it at commercial scale is the point of community gardening. Note the dodgy slide from 'some' (conjecture) to 'many' (a damning assessment that would evince a definitive problem. Later in the press release, they also demand the subsidy to the community gardens go to upgrading the Ag. Depts website on import requirements for foreign countries. I.E. that it should be spent doing the farmers' international market and import law research for them. (How would this be a hand up and not a hand out I find myself wondering?)

It looks like a piece of lobbyist slime, but I'd love to see the evidence that this is a real problem, that commercial agriculture couldnt change its practices to fix it, and that there is no parallel risk caused by individual private vegetable gardens.

The 'industry partners' whose logos are prominent at the bottom of the press release are Elders, Du Pont, Syngenta and Bayer.

Bayer (olim IG 'Zyklon B' Farben) and Du Pont are familiar companies in industrial and agrochemicals.

Id never heard of Syngenta, and they are a bit more tricky to describe, so a biblical 'begat' list will do it. If you are a bit sickly and consume a lot of medicines, or have a thang for explosives and the history of industrialised warfare, you might recognise some of the names in Syngentas' lineage:

Geigy (1758) lay down with Ciba (1884) in 1971 and begat Ceba-Geigy.
Sandoz (1876) and ciba-geigy (1971) begat Novartis in 1995. Brunner Mond, Nobel Explosives, the United Alkali Company and British Dyestuffs Corporation lay down together and begat Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in 1926. (Re ICI - think: incendiary bombs to destroy Dresden & other civilian cities in WWII*.)
Imperial Chemical Industries ejected its agrichemicals division  from its house in 1996. Wandering thus alone in the market of stocks, it was named Zeneca.
Zeneca and the Swedish firm Astra (1913) lay down in 1999 and begat AstraZenica.
An agribusiness bit of AstraZenica and an agribusiness bit of Novartis lay down together in 2000 to make Syngenta.

So Syngenta is a bit like Juan Carlos II as one of the last monarchs of the House of Bourbon - it is a surviving child of the great old pharmaceuticals /agrichemical companies. (Unfortunately there is no convenient Swiss royal line to make a comparison to). It turns out that Syngenta is a sort of sector rival/competitor to the notorious Monsanto. Syngenta is a sort of Euro-UK-version of American Monsanto, to simplify wildly. Both do genetic modification research and sell pesticides.

I'd like to know more about the evidence of contamination of commercial farms by community gardens. Though I'm not sure that I'm going to take evidence-free assertions by Industry partners of Du Pont, Bayer and Syngenta who decorate themselves with Barnaby Joyce pictures. Does anyone know if this is a real problem or is it corporate lobby-slime?

*See for details on firebombs, focusing on American ones - they were made and tested for use *on civilians*

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