The old problem and the new "terrorism"

Lynda Brown - 11 March 2013

The week has started with a headline story about the Chief Medical Officer’s chilling warning that antibiotic usage and bug resistance to them was now so serious that in 10-20 years time, we could be back to the stone age: due to the risk of infection every visit to a hospital could potentially be fatal, and simple and complex operations, including those for organic transplants and cancer could be futile.

Dame Davies points her finger at the fact that doctors give out antibiotics like sweeties; and drug companies switching to the race to find drugs to cure diabetes and heart disease, which, like statins we will need to take every day, and therefore are unimaginably more profitable (clever, isn’t it?). She also highlights the over use of routine antibiotics in animal husbandry, agriculture and fish farming.

So, we are now in a vicious - or is it cosy? - circle: a processing food industry that makes vast profits out of manufacturing products that make us fat, and give us diabetes and heart disease; supermarket giants that make vast profits selling us ‘cheap’ food (it’s the only thing they compete with each other on). It is also primarily the supermarket giants - along with post Second World War governments - who created the cheap food culture we’ve all become addicted to, which, in turn, has fuelled the justification for fast food and resulted in the global intensive farming practices that have become the norm; and pharma companies, including GM magnates, that then make another swathe of billions by producing products designed to cure all of this, be it antibiotics, novel foods or GM foods.

What I want to know is why are we swallowing this? Why do we choose to feed a system which reaps mega gigantic rewards for a tiny minority while the rest of us reap none and the planet we depend on is being destroyed before our eyes?

The Soil Association has repeatedly warned of the dangers of habitual routine use of antibiotics in farming for over 20 years now, and the risk it poses to human health (under organic farming regulations, routine use of antibiotics is forbidden; if used, it is done so on an individual basis, and withdrawal times are twice as long as statutory regulations). It was born out of a conviction that health begins with a healthy soil - research, by the way, consistently shows this is not cranky but good science.

This is the reason I support organic farming methods and the organic philosophy of ‘whole-ism”: I believe they are the best - and thus far - only systems that deliver true heath and true sustainability. I don’t see it as an idealistic pipe dream or middle class leisure pursuit but a necessity for survival. Stories like this only confirm that belief and make me think it’s time to get back to our roots and bang the organic drum for all it's worth. Without it, we might just as well gather up all our ipods and head back to the cave; presuming, of course, we can find caves large enough to squeeze our obese bodies into and which will also hold all the pills we will be required to take on a daily basis.

Lynda is an award-winning food writer and broadcaster, and keen advocate for organic living. She is author of several food books over the last twenty years including Planet Organic: Organic Living, The Cook's Garden, and The Modern Cook's Handbook, as well as writing The Preserving Book that was published in 2010 in association with the Soil Association. Lynda is an expert on food and nutrition and a seasoned broadcaster, regularly speaking on food and farming both on the radio and television.

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