It's Simply Not About the Wellbeing of the People.

Something which keeps coming up in my social media feeds are calls to get signatures to appeal to government for better protection of our natural habitats. Bear in mind that there are already quite a lot of protected areas and restrictions on deforestation, but despite this big corporations still seem to keep getting permission to go ahead and wipe out more wildlife habitat. So people put out more calls for more restrictions.

I once wrote a comment on one of these posts trying to explain that if people really want government to stop deforestation they need to make a better offer than the big corporations. You see putting in the requested regulations on deforestation benefits government if they can use it to regulate and fine small companies, because that brings in an income. It also makes the voters happy that they're doing the right thing, so that's a bonus. However, the really big corporations can offer way bigger incentives than measly fines to get government to allow them to clear land, so that trumps the regulations for the commoners and they'll override them. Not surprisingly, my comment was completely ignored or lost in the crowd.

Many might argue that this isn't right. The environment and the people should come before money, but it doesn't matter how true this is, the reality is that these things aren't going to be put first, which is why its often said you should vote with your dollar. Oh, but that's the dreaded capitalist way and it doesn't work. Except that really it's one of the few things that work, it's just that most people follow the cheapest and easiest route and keep supporting the very things they complain about (Amazon anybody?).

Let me show you a letter I recently received from my local council, after sending in an appeal to keep our area a GM free zone:


I am writing to you as you responded to Council's consultation on whether or not Council should make an application to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development to keep the City of Playford as an area in which no genetically modified (GM) good crops may be cultivated.

A total of 107 responses were received of which 60% of respondents indicated they felt that the City of Playford should make an application for continuance of a moratorium on growing GM foods crops. This viewpoint was consistent across primary producers and community members. Only 32% of respondents indicated that they were against the moratorium continuing.

Council considered the community feedback at the Council meeting on 22nd September 2020 and resolved top make an application to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development to retain a GM free status in the City of Playford and this was sent to the Minister on 24 September 2020.

While Council understands there may be strong views regarding the potential health and environmental impacts of GM crops, the Minister has highlighted that only potential trade and marketing impacts will be considered in a council's application to retain GM free status.

The final decision to retain a GM free status in the City of Playford is at the sole discretion of the Minister. The Minister is required to consult with the GM Crop Advisory Committee prior to making a final decision. The decision is likely to be made by 15 November 2020.

So basically they're saying that it doesn't matter what the health concerns of the people or environment are, unless there is a trade benefit to keeping Playford GM free, it won't happen. Thankfully, whoever helped write the request that the Council keep us GM free must have been aware of the trade side of things, because they suggested that if our state were to remain GM free growing zone we could have the potential to be one of the few suppliers for GM free demand, giving us a good trade advantage. The Barossa Valley region already prides itself on quality foods and wines which are GM free and often even organic, so it could do with a buffer to keep it that way. It's also a popular tourist destination, if tourism ever returns.

A moratorium is a temporary restriction placed upon something; in this case it's a ban on the growing of GM crops in the region. Because it's temporary, it means it's a ban that's easily lifted, so it's likely that even if the decision is made to keep the ban for now, it will be looked at being lifted again in the future if government thinks it will be more profitable; for example if demand for none GM isn't as high as they'd like.

This is a great example of how demand for what you want can be gained via purchase power, or lack of purchasing things you don't want to see being sold. If GM free is what you want, then you need to be making sure that what you're buying says that, even if it's hard to get. You can complain about the evils of capitalism and that it shouldn't be about money, but about people, and you would be right, but it doesn't change the fact that this is how things currently work. When it boils down to it, “What's in it for me?” is a survival instinct across the board and it depends on your priorities as to whether what's in it for you also benefits others. So we can either continue to complain, or try to figure out if there is something we can do personally to try and sway things in the direction we want, using the stick and carrot method, rather than the punishment and more regulation method, which we've established isn't working.

Interestingly, when you actually take the initiative to ask Australian government entities the questions, you'll get some pretty honest, albeit unapologetic, answers. In fact the lockdowns are bringing an awful lot of things to light now that some of the heavy handedness is being questioned. While I've known for some time that the Australian Human Rights Commission will only intervene in human rights breaches committed by the federal government and not state government, it seems that even some politicians weren't aware of this. The reason why the State governments are exempt becomes apparent when you realise that the States are actually fairly autonomous and federal law doesn't necessarily trump State law. So while the federal government agreed to uphold Universal Human Rights, the States did not. If you look into Australian history you'll discover that previous to 1901 Australia was made up of colonies, 6 of which agreed to unite to become a federation. While it was agreed that there would be a central government that was responsible for matters concerning the whole nation, each State would keep its own governance developed as a colony. So if a state puts anti-association laws in place, the Australian federal government and human rights commission have little say in it, other than to express an opinion that they don't think it's a good idea.

So next time you are wondering why things are being done, or not being prevented, despite putting people and environment at risk, follow the money and ask who's benefiting from it, because that's what it's all about, in the end.


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