Tag: dirt

China, France, USA, Your Food, GMO’s and Wikileaks

Dr. Olivier De Shutter, United Nations Envoy, warns that China’s ability to feed its population is waning:


He told the Guardian his main concern was the decline of soil quality in China because of excessive use of fertilisers, pollution and drought. He noted that 37% of the nation’s territory was degraded and 8.2m hectares (20.7m acres) of arable land has been lost since 1997 to cities, industrial parks, natural disasters and forestry programmes.

With climate change expected to increase price volatility and cut agricultural productivity by 5% to 10% by 2030, De Schutter said it was essential for China to wean itself off fossil-fuel intensive farming and adopt more sustainable agricultural techniques, including organic production, and to make even better use of its two great strengths: a huge strategic grain reserve and a large rural population.

He also cautioned against a shift towards industrial-scale farming, which increases economic competitiveness at the cost of natural productivity. “Small-scale farming is more efficient in its use of natural resources. I believe China can show that it is successful in feeding a very large population. ” However, he acknowledged that this may prove difficult in the future as more of China’s 200million farmers move to the cities.

Unfortunately the article in the Guardian UK did not mention the fact that China’s mega- hydro power projects like the Three Gorges Dam are also contributing to massive amounts of loss of the best farmland in the now flooded valleys above the dam site –  62,000 acres – which also forced the resettlement of over a million rural people. http://www.arch.mcgill.ca/prof…

People who buck the Chinese government and organize protesters over deadly food don’t do so well in authoritarian regimes.  Zhao Lianhai, who complained about melamine contaminated milk formulas, that made 300,000 sick and killed at least 6 babies, was thrown in jail in 2009, convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison in November for “inciting social disorder.”  see HuffPo  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/… Zhao’s son was one of the toddlers who became ill with kidney stones after drinking the bad milk.   Melamine was the same chemical that was implicated in the 2006 – 2007 American pet food safety scandal and recall, which sickened and killed thousands of cats,  when it was used to adulterate imported wheat gluten, and spread from an importer – distributor in Las Vegas, ChemNutra,  to all over the country. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T…   Ground up melamine powder, a by product of coal processing normally used in plastics like laminated flooring,  was added not only to increase the volume but to fool the tests done for “protein” content.  

What did Zhao do to warrant Chinese jail time while trying to save sick babies ?

he organized a gathering of a dozen parents of sick children at a restaurant, held a paper sign in front of a court and factory involved in the scandal as a protest, and gave media interviews in a public place.


“I’m concerned this will have a chilling effect on consumers who want to complain,” he said. “You cannot protect the right to food without the right to freedom of expression and organisation.”

Family Dirt, part 2 (Mabel and Florence)

There is summer, and there is summer.

For those who live in seasons that change, that air, that scent of heat and sun, (because the sun does smell of life and air and heat and all things hot and white-yellow bright), the summer air is fleeting. Summer raises the heart, like a glad sweet song, then whispers to the soul silently with sweet-bitter notions of cooler Autumn straight ahead. Autumn, days that masquerade as portage between brief spurts of hottest days and stifling nights to cooler twilight and longer, darker, colder Winter.

Look at the fate of summer flowers,

  Which blow at daybreak, droop e’er evensong;

  And, grieved for their brief date, confess that ours,

  Measured by what we are and ought to be,

  Measured by all that, trembling, we foresee,

  is not so long!

(part 1, go here)

Also posted at Dailykos

Family Dirt, part 1

The last time my mother took me out to her folks’ former property in the Yakima valley was when I was around 21 years old – in 1979, a hot, hot summer day. The aging, paint-peeled-so-badly-no-memory-of-color-remained clapboard farmhouse was still there between Brownstown and the White Swan Indian Agency (and may be standing today as far as I know). It was built around 1905, the year my grandparents, Nellie and James, were married. An old straight-up style house, tented 70 degree roof, very spare and plain Victorian, narrow high window casements, tall ceilings, small rooms. Three small bedrooms and a shanty add-on bathroom.

Wandering oversea dreamer,

Hunting and hoarse,

Oh daughter and mother,

Oh daughter of ashes and mother of blood,…


(crossposted at Dailykos)