Monday, December 08, 2008

oh ireland

So during the weekend, contaminated pig feed containing 80-200 the legal level of PCB dioxins resulted in the recall of all Irish pork products, dating back to 1st September. Bacon, sausages, rashers, pizza toppings, pork chops, you name it, in your fridge or freezer, chuck it out. While of course assuring the public that there was 'no health risk'.

Now I'm no fan of pork, or supporter of pig slaughtering, or the pork industry, but it is appalling that this massively damaging contamination has been allowed to happen, and happen in a way that is hugely destructive to the Irish economy, where agricultural production is so important. I know it can be an opportunity and may finally wake people up to the dangerous, unhealthy and unsustainable systems of food production that dominate here and worldwide, and that need to be changed. Probably it will make people see that organic production is safer, more sensible, and infinitely more sustainable and that we can't afford to take these crazy cost-cutting risks with major parts of our economy. I wrote as much in a comment on Deaglun de Breadun's blog on The Irish Times:

"December 8, 2008. 11:42 am

Sitting in a restaurant on Sunday 7th Dec, bacon and sausages were being served to all around me. When questioned, the waitress said the chef has assured them that ‘all their pork was safe and it was fine to serve it’. That was obviously not the case, considering the recall had been issued and was all over the news that morning.

There has been virtually no coverage so far of the effect on restaurants or the urgent need for them to stop serving pork products. Is cross-contamination by pork products of other products also a risk?

We know that this crisis will clearly cause massive damage to the Irish pork industry at a time when the economy needs all the help it can get. We also know that the crisis, like the BSE one before it, has been created by the industrialised system of meat production which again has been exposed as dangerous and slow to respond to problems, while leaving consumers at risk, in this case since September 1st.

This industrialised agri-business system is at the root of these problems and more food scares will continue to occur, probably with greater risks and greater impact, until the system is completely overhauled.

The government should move quickly to check that organic meat products are safe and to allow them back on the shelves - it is unlikely that organic meat is affected, as it does not take these kind of risks in production. This disaster is further proof of the need for smaller scale, efficient and lower-risk organic food systems, instead of our current system which routinely exposes consumers to danger, allows problems to continue for months undetected and causes untold damage to the Irish economy and to Ireland’s standing abroad."

Comment by L Blopster

This is part of what I think. But simultaneously I find it depressing that such needless risks and problems are being created, when there are so many problems that we can't avoid and that require all our energy to tackle.

This morning's paper also featured the fact that a 13 year old boy had been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a 50 year old man yesterday in Dublin. The paper made it appear as if this boy had shot the man, which he may well have done, though that is not yet clear. He was certainly involved and had access to the gun. What is going on with this country, I and many other people will be saying.

Let's not get into the constant referral to the fact that the man had 'nothing to do with crime' similarly to a man shot recently in Limerick, about whom for some reason every article feels it has to restate that he also had nothing to do with organised crime and was shot in a 'case of mistaken identity'. Of course it's appalling when someone is shot for no apparent reason at all, but the problem is at its root about the use of violence, which is wrong whoever it's targetted at. It is not somehow 'ok' for people to shoot people, at any time, even if all the people involved are 'criminals'.

The day was topped off at an excellent Amnesty International event, Irish Writers Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. But sadly, at this, Colm Toibin said that Irish people were 'wrong, they are stupid' and (I think) irredeemable. In relation specifically to the referendum on citizenship but also more generally. I don't agree, but today that judgement almost seemed apt.


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