2007 - 2020

Jackson Carlaw’s No Deal Menu

Mike Small on why No Deal Brexit, and the ‘internal market’ is an attack on devolution. Worse than that it means deregulated food standards with chlorine-washed chicken hormone-treated beef, ractopamine in pork (all banned in the EU) and chicken litter as animal feed (includes the birds’ faeces).
Rish Sunak, the Boyband Chancellor, has been applauded by many for his PR and his seemingly endless benevolence as he dolled out wads of money this week and posed as a waiter in Wagamama. Unionist commentariat drooled over the banquet surmising that such generosity would feed their own argument that poor Scotland could never and would never have been able to survive without such largess. We were they concluded literally getting crumbs from the table and should be suitably appreciative. Sunak stated, with an eye no doubt to the resurgent polls for independence: “No nationalist can ignore the undeniable truth that this help has been possible because we are a United Kingdom.”
 
Except it doesn’t quite work like that. A more sober assessment was that Sunak’s stunt was more Meal Deal than New Deal, and a discount for Nando’s on a Tuesday night wasn’t really what was required for an economy on the verge of collapse.
 
Every indication is that we are off the map in terms of economic falloff, and the response from mainstream economists and policymakers is (for those of the tl:dr mindset): “Buy More Stuff!”
 
The internal logic of the Unionist framing is unconscious but repetitive. It goes something like this: Scotland as part of the Union is inherently poor; it is an impoverished nation for reasons no-one can (or will) explain, it just is; therefore it’s dependent on the United Kingdom for handouts to support itself. Scotland is essentially a mendicant nation. Any notion therefore of it being self-sufficient and independent is implicitly ludicrous. The exceptionalism of Britain and Britishness (uniquely Great and superior) goes hand in hand with the exceptionalism of Scotland and Scottishness (uniquely Poor and inadequate). One requires the other, and Britain’s Uniqueness and Greatness is proven by its benevolence to its impoverished constituent parts, which it looks after with benign grace.
 
To say that belief in this story is unfolding is an understatement.
 
Kate Forbes the Finance Minister stated that of the £30 billion announced by the Chancellor Scotland would receive £21 million, less than 0.1%.
 
If there’s any further indication needed that the story of the Union being a source of benevolence and strength, the spectacle of the unfortunate Jackson Carlaw being skewered by Adam Bolton on Sky News is it.
 
Bolton interviewed Carlaw about the issue of food standards and the consequences of an “internal market” meaning that food policy, currently a devolved settlement, would become part of a pan-UK plan. Carlaw was adamant that these powers should be withdrawn from Holyrood and centralised as part of the post-Brexit restructure. This is the power-grab in action, it is a very specific attack on the founding principles of devolution.
 
It’s ironic given Sunak’s Meal Deal that food and food policy is going to be the arena of the next major constitutional battleground.

Peter Foster, previously a Telegraph writer had the scoop this week for the Financial Times. Foster wrote (Edinburgh threatens to defy London on post-Brexit legislation‘):

“The Scottish government has threatened to defy proposed UK legislation allowing Westminster unilaterally to set food and environmental standards, setting the stage for the biggest constitutional stand-off between London and Edinburgh since the 2016 Brexit referendum. Michael Russell, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for constitutional affairs, told the Financial Times that the Scottish National party government was prepared to fight in the courts over legislation that would give London unilateral control over the UK “internal market”. The bitter dispute over the Conservative UK government’s efforts to ensure it has a free hand in post-Brexit trade negotiations with other countries highlights the far-reaching constitutional implications of leaving the EU. One person familiar with the proposed UK internal market bill said it would create powers to enable the Westminster government to force Scotland and Wales to accept whatever new standards on food, environment and animal welfare were agreed in future trade agreements. Food safety, agriculture and many aspects of the environment are policy areas overseen by the devolved administrations in Edinburgh and Cardiff, but the UK government wants to have the final say on issues previously decided in Brussels.”
Nor is this one of those protracted never-ending Brexit stories. We hear that the UK Internal Market Bill White Paper will be put out in the next month or so. The crisis is now.
But whilst this is new terrain, there is a long backstory to the crisis.
Just to take one example that made unionist politicians and commentators absolutely livid, was the Scottish Government having a different policy on GM foods. Scotland’s policy in this area is one rooted in a European-wide anti-GM network and in the precautionary principle. It makes good business sense. It must be defended.

In 2013 the Scottish Government laid out the following principles which guided their policy:

The precautionary principle – insufficient evidence has been presented that GM crops are safe.

The preventative principle – the cultivation of GM crops could tarnish Scotland’s natural environment and damage wider aspects of the Scottish economy such as tourism and the production of high quality, natural food

The democratic principle – science-based decision making cannot replace the will of the people. There is no evidence of a demand for GM products by Scottish consumers.

The fact that the Scottish government has put together these sound, well-reasoned principles to guide their opposition gives us real hope that Scotland can be a strong voice against the pro-GM lobby in the years to come, and we can focus our attention on building a sustainable food system for the next generation. But the very idea of Scotland charting a different path was the cause of apoplexy by many journalists and politicians.

Far from Scotland being some kind of parochial outlier, in our GM policy we had in fact joined a global resistance. India has not approved a single genetically modified food crop for human consumption. Only four African nations—South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt, and Sudan permit the commercial use of products that contain G.M.O.s. Other countries involved in bans and restrictions throughout the world include: Italy, Austria, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Brazil and Paraguay.

This is just one area that is about to come under sustained attack.

Food standards are not just an issue for obscure policies and technical details, they are the basis for our health and wellbeing they are the basis for our food sovereignty. Without food sovereignty – without control over what our children eat – we are nothing. And this battle lands in a country where there are already massive issues about poverty, health and wellbeing, and in which Scotland in particular faces huge challenges about our dietary health.

In a country in which 1.5 million people are already reliant on foodbanks, further price rises and disruptions this aren’t good news and likely to hugely exacerbate inequality.

As Ash Sarker explained back in 2018: “Hard Brexit has never been about sovereignty – it’s about creating a legislative bonfire to decimate protections enshrined in law, and hold the UK hostage to corrupt corporate interests.”

Hard Brexit as a form of hyper-nostalgia is the emergent form, a new isolationism in a country that already has a disastrous relationship with food. In a country that has concentrated the food system into the hands of a handful of companies, that has a population more divorced from land, nature, seasonality and place than almost anywhere else in Europe, and that already has staggering food poverty and insecurity, Brexit-style shortages aren’t going to arrive into a context of resilience, balance and plenty. They will arrive into a context of childhood obesity, diabetes and deep cultural ignorance.
The reason that protecting food policy is important to Scotland is interesting. On the one hand we have some of the greatest natural resources in food and an image of food that we can project and build on. But the flip-side of that is that we have huge issues about our diet, about our obsession with export growth, about our salmon industry, about our obesity epidemic, about our diet-related ill-health that we desperately need to confront. Some of these myths – say about basing food policy on export growth make even less sense in a post-covid post-Brexit world than they did before.

Spam Democracy

Nor does this particularly virulent form of Disaster Capitalism derive from the popular will as routinely claimed. This isn’t happening with just the momentum of The People but with the organised will groups with direct economic interest. On food standards and regulations there’s a feeding frenzy of right-wing think-tanks queuing up to divvy-up your rights to good (or at least nominally safe) food. As the dearth of foreign workers leaves crops rotting in the ground the glee with which policy makers are eyeing up the potential profits of a free trade agreement is undeniable. Politically, for both the Trump administration and Boris Johnson’s beleaguered government this would be a rabbit out of the hat moment, a vindication of the Global Britain rhetoric for Boris and a clarion of American Means Business for Trump.

As long ago as 2018 the environmental group Unearthed have revealed the reality of the Anglo-American trade deal after a transatlantic network of conservative think tanks accidentally published its secret plans to influence US-UK trade negotiations. They revealed: “Documents outline plans to form an “unprecedented” coalition of hard-Brexit and libertarian think tanks, which will call for Britain to ditch strict EU safety standards – including rules on food and pharmaceuticals – in order to secure a sweeping US-UK trade deal.”

The group will hold “shadow trade talks” in Washington and London to “hash out an ‘ideal’ US-UK free trade agreement (FTA).” It hopes this will form the “blueprint” for the real negotiations between the British and US governments.

A report by the Soil Association highlights 10 concerns about food safety in a post-Brexit era that ushers up the ghost of the 4.4. million cows killed as result of the BSE crisis. These foods are currently banned in the UK:

  1. Chlorine-washed chicken (banned in the EU).
  2. Hormone-treated beef (banned in the EU).
  3. Ractopamine in pork (banned in the EU).
  4. Chicken litter as animal feed (banned in the EU). Includes the birds’ faeces.
  5. Atrazine-treated crops (banned in the EU). Atrazine is a herbicide used on 90% of sugar cane, which can enter into the water supply and interfere with wildlife.
  6. Genetically modified foods (banned in the EU).
  7. Brominated vegetable oil (banned in the EU). BVO is used in citrus drinks; Coca-Cola announced it would stop using BVO in 2004.
  8. Potassium bromate (banned in the EU). A dough conditioner also banned in China, Brazil and Canada, in tests on rats it has been found to be a possible carcinogen.
  9. Azodicarbonamide. A bleaching agent for flour, it has been linked to an increase in tumours in rats.
  10. Food colourants (banned in the UK, regulated in the EU). Can lead to hyperactivity in children.
This is your Brexit Recipe Book. This is what your cupboards and your super-market shelves will be brimming with if Jackson Carlaw gets his way.
If we can now see the corporate vultures circling around the carcass of Brexit Britain we can also see the deep-irony that the communities most likely to be hit hard by a further deregulated food system are those already disfigured by inequality and diet-related ill-health.

This is a new era of hunger and food madness.

Comments (38)

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  1. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    Mike,

    This is probably the best piece that you have written and if does not make people shit themselves that they (the Brexiteers, little Englanders) are doing everything that will only need a very, very small spark to set-off a ‘Civil War’.

    Thanks to the yoons promote all things English shown on various TV channels before and during ‘lock-down’ has shown us that Wastemonster is more than happy to break or cancel International Treaties when it suits their devious and corrupt practices. Therefore surely the time is now for the SG to emulate their illustrious predecessors who on the 6th April 1320 wrote to Pope John XXII declaring Scottish Independence though in 2020 it would be more appropriate to present our just case to the UN and the EU, while at the same time removing our MP’s from Wastemonster and we might also consider closing our Borders.

    The days of sitting like dummies and meekly accepting every pile of shit that Wastemonster throws at us is OVER for good.

    1. John says:

      I wish you the very best of luck in presenting your “case” to the EU and even more luck should you gain independence from Westminster and have to agree to decades of severe EU- imposed austerity before being “allowed” to join the euro.

      1. james gourlay says:

        What is this nonsense (apart from nonsense)? In case you hadn’t noticed we already have had imposed upon us austerity from Westminster. What is the “severe EU imposed austerity” ? You should know that a country joining the EU does not have to join the euro currency. You are perhaps a troll? Or a lunatic.

        1. Mr Kevin f shields says:

          Either your completely stupid or don’t you remember the euro crisis, even though er weren’t in it the commission said we had to give the ecb billions to ease the crisis intact ceton even loaned Ireland millions of £ because of their financial difficulties and it was the EU commission that imposed austerity on all EU members unfortunately it just so happened the Tories were in government so please get your facts right

      2. Wul says:

        Why would Scotland’s independence from Westminster require us to be forced to accept “EU Austerity” or using the Euro?

        We are in the EU right now, today ( in case you hadn’t noticed) and have neither of these things.

        Your post makes no sense. The whole point of independence is that these decisions will be made by people who live HERE, in Scotland. What is your problem with that?

        1. Wul says:

          My response was aimed at John, above, in case that is not clear.

    2. Kevin Shields says:

      Fine see what happens when the Barnett formula is removed and a physical border put up ,you won’t beable to use sterling and can’t afford to fund holyrood ,nus,police Scotland and schools which are a disgrace but hey we eben had to give you £1billion due to your budget shortfall wish you all the best jimmy

      1. James Mills says:

        Ignorant troll – we will be well rid of the likes of you SOON !

      2. Wul says:

        Kevin Shields,

        Do some actual research ( from outside your own social media bubble) and you will find that Scotland is a very, very well resourced country. Even pro-unionists, like ex-PM David Cameron have admitted that Scotland has more than enough resource to be successfully independent.

        Take one current example; water. Last week’s news revealed that some parts of England will soon run out of drinking water. Scotland has more fresh water in one loch ( Loch Ness) than every single lake and river in England. ( Don’t worry, come independence we’ll be happy to export some south to you).

        With just 8% of the UK’s population, Scotland has: 25% of Europe’s renewable energy potential, 34% of the UK’s natural wealth resource, 20% of UK food and drink exports (Scotland is the only part of the UK with a positive export/import balance, exporting 100% per more goods per head that rest of UK), More space satellites built in Glasgow than any other European city, 65% of all seafood landed in the UK, the most highly educated workforce in Europe, a GDP per head £900 higher than the rest of the UK … you get the picture?

        You have swallowed the old empire myth that any country seeking independence from the UK is “too poor” to go it alone. Every single country which successfully broke free of the UK ( and there are dozens of them) has been fed this line.

        You, and others like you, would be far more successful in persuading Scots to stay in the UK if you were honest and fair and simply said, in effect; “Scotland is one of the wealthiest and best resourced nations in the UK family. We need you. We value you. We would be far poorer without you and would like to offer you a level of power and autonomy commensurate with your contribution to the UK family of nations”

        That would maybe work. Your pathetic, juvenile gas-lighting attempts of; “You’re too poor to leave, too stupid to be successful” will fail and are failing.

  2. Mark Bevis says:

    If that’s not an argument for going vegetarian at least, and even better, dairy free, I don’t know what is. If you don’t want to eat chlorinated chicken, just don’t buy it. I gave up chicken long before I went vegetarian simply because it was so bland. Still like chicken? – catch it, kill it, pluck it and cook it yourself is the only safe variety you’re gonna get, even before this US trade deal kicks in.

    I’ve avoided shop bought bread for years ever since the 2014 revelation that a lot of it contains Roundup. 65% or more of factory farmed wheat is sprayed with Roundup just before harvesting. Not to kill weeds, but to kill the stalks sufficiently that it makes it easier for the combine harvester to collect the wheat. And that has been going on for over a decade. Ever since I found I’ve made my own bread with organic flour from Doves Farm. And then they wonder why cancer has a 50% ‘infection’ rate…..

    Vegetables and vegetable oil with American toxins. Yeuss, even vegans would find it difficult to avoid those. Growing your own veg is one thing, making your own cooking oil is a different ballgame again. But even our current veg and fruit is sprayed with allsorts of shite, never mind the extras the US will add.

    With Boris granting himself Henry VIII powers to make up laws on the spot and post them on office doors with sellotape, we won’t even know if the meat is chlorinated, as such labelling will be banned overnight. I think even in the current agriculture bill doing the rounds there is a clause giving the government (ie Cummings) the power of labelling. No doubt they are working on a way of banning people from growing their own food, as occurs in some US states. Some of these are just bizzare. In one state growing a lime tree incurrs a $12,000 fine or 5 years in prison. And the department that enforce it carry guns and often carry out SWAT style assaults on food growing citizens.

    I remember a study done some years ago. It compared an ancient Egyptian body to current ones. The one from ancient Egypt had traces of 65 toxins, the current one then had over 400.

    The truth is we’ve been poisoning ourselves with our food for most of our lifetimes, this is just another example of late-stage capitalism collapse, as the extremely rich desperately look for more ways to make money. This is just more of the same, following the exponential function. The rate of poisoning will go up, and like most exponential functions is thus inevitable until the whole thing collapses over its own contradictions.

    Is your food worth dying for? If so then set up your own sources, either in your own spaces or in community spaces such as Incredible Edible Network. Which is worse, dying from cancer or other untreatables brought on by your factory farmed processed food, or in a hail of police bullets defending your chemical-free garden plot? As the state runs out of resources to enforce its rules at the peripharies of empire*, that gives your plot a higher random chance of being ignored and forgotten and thus surviving to be a great example of post-collapse methodology.

    *that is also a sign of late-stage collapse – increased centralisation and increased edicts/demands/orders from the centre, which become increasingly unenforceable at the outer provinces due to cost of resources becoming higher (a more detailed explanation would require another essay. Which gives me more hope for the Scottish and Irish than those in the English shires.

    1. Axel P Kulit says:

      I agree with you that growing your own food may be banned, but do enough allotment owners and renters vote Tory to make this unlikely?

      How will it affect say Nandos if people think they are selling chlorinated chicken? Or other restaurants, because its restaurants might buy this stuff in order to reduce costs.

      A number of supermarkets have vowed not to stock chlorinated chicken and if labelling becomes illegal may still find a way to let consumers know if food comes from the USA or form a location that is probably safe (Germany, France etc) . It is possible that consumer resistance will kill any hopes of the US selling its polluted food here.

      Having said that it is no time for complacency. I am not sure how we can fight this but…

      1. Mark Bevis says:

        “but do enough allotment owners and renters vote Tory to make this unlikely?”

        Good point, my fear is that the Johnson & Cummings Party coup don’t appear to care who votes for what. Everyone thought they’d protect pensioners because they tend to vote Tory more, but they’ve been slaughtering them by the care home load, so all bets are off. With the bills they are trying to put through parliament, it is quite clear Johnson has no time for parliament and is just going to sideline it like the Soviet Dumas, if he gets his way.

        “I am not sure how we can fight this but…”
        Yes, this is my despair. Gulf War2 shows that a million marching on London has no effect on the Westmonster elites. Petitions have to reach 4-5 million signatures before they even begin to have an effect. Even if everyone concerned voted Green Party the FPTP voting system would prevent them getting sufficient power.
        There are petitions against this trade deal doing the rounds, so I have duly signed them, although I’m not hoping they’ll change anything. My MP is a parachuted in Brexiteer city banker, would there be any point in engaging with him?

        The only weapon in the proletariat’s arsenal is our spending power. Shopping choices will influence the outcome. But that takes millions of people to take the right steps. Will the majority just be taken in by the advertising led by the Daily Mail and just eat that toxic shite because it’s cheaper? Given how they’ve taken in all the advertising so far, I’m not hopeful.

        Maybe the supermarkets will lead the charge on this one and sink the idea before it swims, although I wouldn’t put it past them accepting bungs to “do the right thing” when the time comes. Their marketing ideas usually mean they’ll stock both, somehow get round rules to distinguish German chicken from US chicken, and charge more for the less-unhealthier version.

        The best action is withdrawal as much as possible from the machine. So, if you want to eat meat and you’re not able to catch it, kill it and cook it yourself, then use your local butcher rather than the supermarket.

        If, for example, you have no local butcher, but there is one 30 miles away, perhaps set up a community shopping group. Make a leaflet showing the article above, post in the nearest 20-100 houses, ask if there is an interest in forming a group of volunteers that take turns once a week to drive/train over there and collect a community order – or twice a week, whatever is needed – you might agree a small petrol charge/train ticket charge shared between the users of the service. Your carbon footprint will still be less than each factory farmed meat product bought in the local supermarket by walking only consumers.

        And so on.

        1. Mr Kevin f shields says:

          Then best thing to do is move to the EU they have their own faults on foods but NOONE will stop you going if you don’t like it here

    2. Kathleen Richardson says:

      Mr. Nevis,
      Where in the U.S. is it illegal to grow your own lime tree? I am in the U.S. and have never heard of such craziness. Please state your sources.
      Scotland should have all rights to be a sovereign country. And I protest any, and all conditions put on it. If the U.S. can afford to support other foreign nations who’s people have NEVER been a part of making this great nation, then it’s past time in doing so.ething about it!

      1. Wul says:

        Mark, do you know if the Roundup spraying of pre-harvest wheat is still going on today?

        ( I searched for articles, but they were all from 2015-ish)

        1. Mark Bevis says:

          Not seen any new data, but there are current articles (some behind paywalls) saying farmers are using more than ever.
          https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/despite-plans-to-ban-glyphosate-its-sales-in-france-increase-by-10/
          https://www.wsj.com/articles/despite-rulings-farmers-remain-loyal-to-roundup-11553175429

          According to this article from 2016, the idea started in Scotland. It’s called desiccating.
          https://www.ecowatch.com/roundup-cancer-1882187755.html
          another one from Dec 2017:
          https://ensia.com/features/glyphosate-drying/

          and still going on:
          https://www.fwi.co.uk/arable/crop-watch/crop-watch-ergot-in-spring-wheat-and-osr-desiccation

          So, in answer to your question, yes.

          1. Wul says:

            FFS! It’s as if we’ve forgotten what “food” actually is.

            Thank you for the links. Makes sense that “desiccating” was pioneered in Scotland with our often damp harvest seasons. Why not just harvest less wheat and put the bloody price up? I’d happily pay more for a loaf without carcinogens in it. We are always told that supermarkets are about offering “choice” but there’s never a “poisonous food” section.

          2. Mark Bevis says:

            Yep. Food has long since become a marketing commidity, not an essential requirement.
            Heh, if supermarkets had a sign for “poisonous food” section it would be outside over the door.

            Alistair Taylor wrote below “Where did it all go bloody wrong?”

            Simples. Neo-liberalism. Under the so-called free market ideology it is cheaper to send surplus food to landfill than give it away, presumably because the landfill operator is probably owned by a different branch of the same corporation, so any fees incurred by the supermarket is simply moving the corporate owner’s small change from his left pocket to his right pocket.
            But they can’t give it away, that is against their ideology. The horror, the horror, the threat to their economic bottom line, the plebs actually getting something for nowt.
            Think about it, if they could give surplus food away, then they could probably afford to give all the food away in the first place. So they all go through this charade of setting up complex systems where a charity they agree with have to set up apps and pay-as-you-feel corner shops and so on to access the surplus food.

            And it doesn’t matter to neo-liberalism if it poisons all its customers and kills them slowly. We added a billion new consumers to the planet in the last 11 years, more than enough to make up the shortfall. It doesn’t matter that those new consumers-to-be are not in the western affluent* nations, eventually Africa and Asia will have multiples of Aldi, Sainsburies, Asda, Tescos et al sprouting up all over the their towns too, if they haven’t already.

            *effluent nations might be a better description, given the toxic outputs of our complex civilisation.

            The power of corporations and their neo-liberal ideology is so great that sovereign governments now have little say, and indeed most have been infiltrated by corporate supporters anyway. They own the mainstream media, at the current rate it won’t be long before they own the rest of the internet.

            Alistair also wrote: “Is there no roll-up-your-sleeves leadership anymore? Not a spark of native intelligence? No one to join the dots?”

            Not really, and certainly not in the right places. Again, that is anathema to neo-liberalism. The corporations and their sychophants want us as atomised consumer units, not joined up communal groups who can join the dots. Psychological commentary I’ve seen shows that only ~3% of a population can see the wider view, can join the dots. If everyone could join the dots, the corporations and their psychophants would be first to go. They all have addresses, and there aren’t enough guns in the world to stop all the pitchforks!
            Although, if everyone joined up all the dots, I don’t think it would actually come to that. People would just set up their own systems of community and economy, and bypass the currently failing systems of oligarchy.
            One of the most important comments to me that I’ve seen in recent years is that of Carne Ross, the accidental anarchist, in an interview with Russell Brand. He talked about protesting only goes so far, and yeah, you can do that. But far more effective, is to set up up the systems of governance, economy and community that you want to see. Even if it’s only two of you. Then, as it succeeds, people will see that success, and join in. And eventually it will snowball and the existing failing systems will simply fade into irrelevance.
            The trick of course, is getting those alternatives set up. Because everything from land ownership, planning laws, license regulations, police forces, bailiffs, money supply, are all set up already to make it incredibly difficult to break the mould. The system is rigged, to favour corporate economic oligarchy and the land owning gentry. In effect you have a double fight on your hands. For independence to be acceptable, the men in suits in the background would have to see that they can make a bigger buck out of it than they currently do. Is this why SNP appears to approve neo-liberal policies?

  3. SleepingDog says:

    Indeed, the Scottish people and government should stand against the ecopaths:
    https://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/essay/what-is-an-ecopath/
    and work with other nations to make and enforce ecocide law. Meanwhile, the unelected head of the British Empire and the quasi-elected head of the USAmerican Empire retain omnicidal powers…

    Meanwhile animal rights activists are arrested for adding colouring to Trafalgar Square fountain water, and UK supermarkets say they will never stock chlorinated chicken ‘ever’, apparently (still keen on factory farming though).

  4. Dougie Harrison says:

    Mike, I don’t always agree with every point in everything you write… but this is absolutely on target, and very important indeed. Thank you for it.

    I’ve been aware of the negative consequences of human chemical abuse of food production since I read Rachel Carson’s historic ‘Silent Spring’ in the early 1960s. But over half a century later, UK and US rightwing politicians in league with pharmaceutical corporate interests will succeed in selling us damaging food products currently banned – unless we stop them. This important bit of writing will strengthen our resistance to them.

    Thank you again.

  5. Mark Bevis says:

    Kathleen wrote:
    “Where in the U.S. is it illegal to grow your own lime tree? I am in the U.S. and have never heard of such craziness. Please state your sources.”

    It was many years ago, and cannot find the info now, I just remember it for being an extremely bizzare situation. It occurred in a wider discussion about some American towns where you can’t grow food in your front gardens, harvest rainwater, and drinking unpasteruised milk was/is a crime. That people carrying out the raids, with guns, would think it’s normal baffles me.

    I did find that it is currently illegal to ship limes between certain states for disease control reasons.

  6. Gman says:

    Sure it’s only one measure, but it makes one wonder why the US scores so highly in Global Food Security Index and compares so favourably to much of Europe after reading this piece above.

    https://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com/

    1. Mark Bevis says:

      “The Economist Group © 2020 The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited. All rights reserved”

      Because it’s written by a consortium of economists, not food growers. Economists are well known for not measuring externalities such as pollution and unsustainable practices. The Overton Window has it appears, been expanded, such that the group can now acknowledge that soil degredation is a problem, but it doesn’t appear to have reached government strategic departments yet.

      Look at their expert panel under the Methodology tab:

      Leo Abruzzese
      Global Forecasting Director and Director of Public Policy, Economist Intelligence Unit
      Ademola Braimoh
      Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist, World Bank
      Eileen Kennedy
      Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
      Samarendu Mohanty
      Senior Economist & Head, International Rice Research Institute
      David Spielman
      Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute
      Robert Thompson
      Senior Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

      Googling each name gives the impression that half of them don’t appear to have been near to a farm, although I stand to be corrected. And I am sure they are honourable people with good intentions, but these never seem to translate into corporate or government policy.
      Ademola at least gets it:
      https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/invest-soil-sustain-life

      Sure, it’s correct, from a neo-liberal economic perspective. If you click on the link of US strengths, corruption features too:
      score / 100 Strengths

      100Presence and quality of food safety net programmes
      100Access to financing for farmers
      100Nutritional standards
      99.5Food safety
      99.3Change in average food costs
      98.5Food loss
      98.4Proportion of population under global poverty line
      96.6Dietary diversity
      91.8Agricultural import tariffs
      91.6Volatility of agricultural production
      87.6Sufficiency of supply
      85.8Protein quality
      84.4Urban absorption capacity
      75Corruption

      The fact that they consider corruption as a strength tells you everything you need to know.
      To be fair the USA does overproduce in normal years (although given climate change, there’s no longer a normal year) such that they are/were able to export to fill gaps in supply elsewhere in the world. But that overproduction has come at such a massive expense in terms of soil degredation and nitrate run-off.

      The UK entry is thus
      100Presence and quality of food safety net programmes
      100Access to financing for farmers
      100Corruption
      100Food safety
      99.9Proportion of population under global poverty line
      99.2Change in average food costs
      97.5Food loss
      87Volatility of agricultural production
      84.5Dietary diversity
      81.1Agricultural import tariffs
      80.4Urban absorption capacity
      77.2Protein quality

      So it’s saying the UK food production is 100% corrupt? What?
      If you delve further it says, under food availability, that “Change in dependency on chronic food aid” hasn’t gone up in the last 5 years. Which we know is not true, given the incease in food bank use since austerity began.
      A lot of the numbers on that site don’t make sense. They probably make sense to investors and corporate executives, but they don’t appear to meet the realities me and you see on the streets every day.
      I was listening to Paul Kingsnorth, he of Dark Mountain project fame, on some old Youtube vids yesterday. He was talking about reality is only what we perceive it, and not necessarily as the world is. Or something like that. Maybe this is a classic example –

      The world as seen by ‘The Economist Group’ is their reality, the world as seen by me is another reality, the world seen by Gman is another. Doesn’t mean any of them are necessarily wrong. The world is so complex, and so populated, and the civilisation we have built is so interconnected that is it impossible to measure it all accurately. One suspects that for example the building of a new road in Oxfordshire affects the price of rice in a Chinese province, somehow, in a multitude of complex interactions that only Giaia gets. Hmmmm. Makes me feel quite sad strangely.

      1. Gman says:

        Thank you for taking the time and trouble to reply and I certainly get your ‘neoliberal’ drift.

        One of the most interesting things you touched on there is foodbank use which, though essentially once a uniquely US phenomenon since the 1960s, has now exploded across the EU, even Germany and not just in the UK, particularly since the financial crash of 2008.

        What are your own personal thoughts on this?

        1. Mark Bevis says:

          My personal thoughts on foodbanks?

          They are a symbol of failure. Failure of vision, failure of policy, a failure of linked up thinking, a failure of morality. It’s not so much that we shouldn’t have them, it’s that the people who need them shouldn’t have been forced into that position in the first place.
          I have regrettably come to the conclusion that UK government policy is deliberately creating this failure. By adopting and more significantly persisting with their policies on UC, sanctions, onerous PIP tests, and housing the government is choosing to create the situations where these people die or are dumped onto others.

          With 14 million living in relative poverty in the UK, mostly working people, it is clear that current “business as normal” is failing far too many people. It’s gonna fail a lot more soon when the full impact of CV19 business collapse kicks in. The fact that nothing has been done about it since 2010 leads to the deduction that it is in fact deliberate – a class war, of extermination. The total lack of empathy shown by the corporate elites running the empire show this, and with their behaviuor during the current crisis. It’s not that they actually want to kill people per say, it’s just they don’t want to pay for their upkeep. If you’re not a taxpayer then you are worthless to them. Because they are also anti-big state, they don’t even want to set up the infrastructure so that other people might look after them. So we are left with a hodge-podge of charities, religious groups and nameless volunteers using the sellatape to hold our fracturing society together. Eventually they are gonna run out of sellatape….

          And we know, starvation reduces people’s ability to fight. In an ideal world, those 14 million people would get together, storm the offices of power and redistribute the food and other resources until everyone has sufficient share. But that doesn’t happen. Scientific studies show that if you reduce people to near starvation, they cannot ‘get on your bike and look for work’, because they are too weak to do so, and all energy is spent on survival. 200 years of enclosure of the commons, and persuading the masses to ‘tugging the forlock’, obey your more knowledgeable masters or starve, has created a cult of the undeserving poor, that somehow it’s your own fault if you are poor.
          Utter garbage of course, foodbanks could be phased out overnight, just by the introduction of a meaningful UBI. Poverty is a lack of money, not a lack of will. But with a sycophantic MSM continually propping up these tropes on behalf of the government, will it ever change?

          1. Gman says:

            I agree that foodbanks are indeed a sign of abject failure and shame us all in modern societies.

            Wealthy, ‘civilised’ societies that have an overabundance of food and yet perversely effectively still have a significant number of their people suffering the completely unacceptable indignity of being forced to go to foodbanks and/or going hungry.

            I guess what I’m really interested to know is what you think about this similar rising UK trend also being reflected across the EU.

          2. Mark Bevis says:

            “similar rising UK trend also being reflected across the EU.”

            I wasn’t aware of the rise of food banks in northern Europe. That is surprising on one level, given the relative affluence and what I perceive to be greater social cohesion at a family level. On the other hand, it is clear most European governments are swinging towards more authoritarion and/or more neo-liberal governance, and it may reflect that.

            In any country, that has complex structures, there will be individuals who fall through the gaps in social provision, so I guess food banks have always been there in some form or other. But the numbers involved would have been tiny, well within the organisational limits of any town or country council or equivalent. Austerity has blown that wide open of course. Are northern-bloc EU countries beginning to go down the austerity route after inflicting it severely on southern bloc-EU countries?

  7. John says:

    Like many , if not most English people, I am very fond of the Scots and should they desire independence then so be it. However, perhaps the author of this piece might like to remind readers of how large the UK government’s contribution is to Scottish pensions.

    1. Dougie Harrison says:

      I welcome your comment John. But just how ‘English’ are you? On these islands we’re all a bastard mixture. I am Scots, have always proudly considered myself so, and for over the last decade, eventually came to understand that like every other formerly ‘British’ possession, we deserve our independence. But I have a typically Yorkshire surname, and am aware that my heritage is at least 25% Irish (maybe in part ‘black Irish’, and therefore in part maybe originally Iberian, from County Mayo), and might be considered about the same genetically of ‘English’ blood.

      We’re all – or many of us are – a bastard race. And none the worse for that. What matters is what we seek to do, to make the world we NOW inhabit more democratic, and thus accountable.

    2. To be honest John I’m not really bothered if you’re “fond of us”. This is a question of how the British state governs and who it represents, not “Scottish” people and “English” people. Take your patronising playground discourse elsewhere.

    3. Wul says:

      John: “…perhaps the author of this piece might like to remind readers of how large the UK government’s contribution is to Scottish pensions.”

      John. If you do actually believe that Scotland is “subsidised” by a benevolent UK government, can you explain why a country so rich in resources is so poor as to need subsidising by it’s neighbour?

      What are we doing wrong in Scotland? What’s wrong with us Scots that similar sized and resourced European countries are so much wealthier? What do you believe is holding Scotland back? Please share your insights (although I suspect you have no answer to these questions).

    4. Bill says:

      John,

      The Barnett formula does not give us back what we contribute in taxes and even with the pension contribution we are still sold short. Let me point you to the massive infrastructure projects in London – the new underground, Crossrail, the M25 and all the rest. London sucks most of the wherewithal out of all of Britain. I will not get antsy about’OurOil”, which Thatcher stole to set up the corrupt and corrupting financial system in London. Look what Norway did with it’s oil wealth and ask yourself why did we not do the same.

      Scotland could manage on its own and the sooner the better as far as I am concerned. I do not need to be told by patronising condescending English people that they quite like us – who then vote in incompetent cruel nasty Tories who show their love of us by giving us ten years of poverty in the form of the austerity practised by the said Tories.

      Let me finish by telling you that my wife is English, all my children were born in England, three of my grandchildren were born in England – and they all now live in Scotland and are fervent supporters of Scottish independence

      Bill

  8. Blair Breton says:

    US House of Representatives will block the US deal as it breaks the Belfast Agreement due changes in food standards and other standards means a hard border is necessary on the NI border with Eire. And if Trump loses the deal is dead.

  9. Wul says:

    Excellent and important article.

    This is what happens when you have no control over your own country and your borders “don’t exist”. You become a passive consumer of whatever shit other people want you to eat in order to make them richer still.

    I see that The Soil Association have a Scottish presence. Worth looking at their material and making connections for the upcoming fight over control of what we eat.

    https://www.soilassociation.org/our-work-in-scotland/

  10. Kjallakr says:

    Aye, so lang as they dinnae stert tae chlorinate mah Haggis, ah dinnae be al’richt.

  11. Alistair Taylor says:

    A very interesting article, and comments too.
    I agree with Mark Bevis in that food banks represent a very real failure.
    To take a few steps back and survey the scene: a modest sized European country, where crops rot in the ground, for want of labour, and a sizeable percentage of the poverty stricken population rely on food banks to get through the week. To say nothing of the ill-health and obesity that stalk the land.
    Where did it all go bloody wrong?
    Is there no roll-up-your-sleeves leadership anymore? Not a spark of native intelligence? No one to join the dots?

    Land reform would be a starting place. How long is that going to take?
    Anyway, onwards…
    We sorely need to engage the youth. It’s their future.
    Your Jackson Carlaws, Donald Trumps and Boris Johnsons are already yesterdays men. Dead end evolutionary choices. Waste of spacers.

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