Here’s how Alternative proteins can help us achieve an equitable global water system

Water is a finite, indispensable resource that gives way to life as we know it on this planet. It has immense, multidimensional value to individuals and communities around the world. And yet, precious as it is, many of our systems take water for granted.

We have the opportunity to help a new wave of protein production spring forth, one that puts the foods we love on the table while honoring water as a vital resource and paving the way for its conscionable and equitable stewardship.

To reach Sustainable Development Goal 6, “ensuring access to water and sanitation for all,” United Nations member states are working to ensure that all people have access to clean water and sanitation by 2030. Alternative proteins will be a crucial part of the solution.

Enhancing water access 

Alternative proteins allow us to free up our water supply to serve a growing global population.

By only requiring the crops that end up in the final product, plant-based meat production cuts out feed crops, the primary water requirement in conventional meat production. Overall, plant-based meat production requires up to 99 percent less water than its conventional counterparts. Likewise, cultivated meat production is projected to have massive blue water savings (water in freshwater lakes, rivers, and aquifers) with up to a 78 percent reduction as compared to beef production, according to CE Delft’s recent life cycle analysis.

Producing meat directly from plants or by cultivating cells will allow us to free up freshwater from animal agriculture, which is currently responsible for approximately one-third of all freshwater consumption in the world. As our changing climate places greater pressures on food and water security, we must make better use of our limited resources by modernizing meat production systems.

Improving water quality 

According to the United Nations FAO, “global water scarcity is caused not only by the physical scarcity of the resource, but also by the progressive deterioration of water quality in many countries, reducing the quantity of water that is safe to use.” Water pollution does not impact everyone equally: In the United States, contaminated drinking water is 40 percent more likely to occur in places with higher percentages of people of color. By reducing global reliance on animals for meat, alternative proteins can eliminate a major source of waterway pollutants and drive more equitable health outcomes.

Fertilizers used for animal feed crops and improper animal waste management contribute to waterway pollution. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses from manure, as well as antibiotics, hormones, and zoonotic waterborne pathogens can end up in drinking water sources and pollute nearby ecosystems. Fertilizers that runoff into waterways create unsafe levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, which stimulate the growth of algal blooms that suffocate aquatic life (called eutrophication) and devastate marine ecosystems, creating vast dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay, and other coastal waters. Harmful algal blooms are estimated to cost the United States $4.6 billion per year.

Because alternative protein production does not involve animal feed or animal waste, it does not contribute to water pollution via harmful agricultural runoff. Studies show that plant-based meat could reduce over 90 percent of eutrophying pollution compared to conventional animal production. Cultivated meat could reduce eutrophying pollution by 98 percent compared to conventional beef. In most countries, alternative protein production facilities will be regulated like any other food production facility, and therefore subject to higher environmental protections than minimally regulated agricultural facilities. These regulations ensure that local waterways will not be contaminated by alternative protein production facilities.

Addressing climate change

By transitioning to alternative proteins, we can mitigate the broader effects of climate change on the water cycle and global water supply. Plant-based meat production uses 47 to 99 percent less land than conventional meat and yields massive reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. Likewise, cultivated meat outperforms all forms of conventional meat production when renewable energy is used, reducing the climate footprint of beef, pork, and chicken by 92 percent, 52 percent, and 17 percent, respectively.

Cultivated meat reduces land use up to 95 percent compared to beef, 72 percent compared to pork, and 63 percent compared to chicken. With this massive decrease in land use, we can put policies in place to preserve the forests that regulate global temperatures and play a massive part in controlling the planet’s water cycle.

Unmitigated animal agriculture will have ripple effects on Earth’s climate, escalating the global prevalence of drought and water scarcity. The clearing of trees for grazing and crop land is the greatest driver of deforestation, and deforestation in turn can destabilize the water cycle. Recycling water through land vegetation is especially important in giant tropical ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest, which is thought to provide atmospheric moisture as far as the Midwest. Moreover, as global temperatures rise, droughts become more frequent and more severe; increased temperatures lead to increased evaporation and transpiration.

Alternative proteins pave a brighter road ahead

The challenges presented by our global water crisis are large, but not insurmountable. Reimagining our protein supply to make better use of finite natural resources will be key to restoring water health and access to our global communities. This is precisely the opportunity alternative proteins present.

To modernize meat production, we need public investment in open-access research to fill technological gaps and robust public policies to maximize the benefits of alternative protein production. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations specifically calls for policies and incentives that encourage sustainable diets to counter water pollution from agriculture. Governments should include alternative proteins in public procurement policies for healthy and sustainable food in schools, hospitals, care facilities, and other public institutions. This will increase the availability of alternative proteins and will likely help lower prices, because bulk purchasing by institutions can reduce costs. Additional progressive land, water, and energy policy, as well as a renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion are needed throughout the food system.

Alternative proteins are critical to building a world where water is clean, plentiful, and valued by all—and every stakeholder has a role to play. The Good Food Institute has defined the key challenges facing the alternative protein field and the open opportunities for academic, industry, and government stakeholders to get involved. Read more about the roadmap ahead.

 

Authors

Amy Huang UNIVERSITY INNOVATION MANAGER

Amy Huang oversees GFI’s efforts to transform universities into engines for alternative protein research and education. Areas of expertise: university programs, academic ecosystem-building, global health, design thinking, effective altruism, public speaking.

Lauren Stone POLICY COORDINATOR

Lauren advances alternative protein policy by researching, writing, and supporting legislative efforts. Areas of expertise: policy communications, food systems, food policy

Source: Good Food Institute

Ralph Nader: How has disease shaped history?

Ralph speaks to two authors who have written books about how disease has shaped history, first with journalist Vidya Krishnan, author of Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History and then John Nichols, author of Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers: Accountability for Those Who Caused the Crisis?

Moving beyond the Moo– A Post Cow World

The Protein Universe: To an Infinite Protein Palate and Beyond, Thanks to Precision Fermentation

According to a new report by the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) initiative, a global investor network that aims to put factory farming on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda, animal agriculture is deeply unprepared for the transition to a sustainable food system. But there is one interesting silver lining: 28 out of 60 publicly-listed animal protein companies – almost half – now have some involvement in animal free proteins, which includes seven in cultivated meat.

The shift toward animal free proteins even from within parts of the existing agricultural system is a signal of what’s to come: Precision Fermentation (PF) will disrupt the food industry – a process Catherine Tubb and Tony Seba describe in detail in the RethinkX report, Rethinking Food and Agriculture (2019) – and contrary to prevailing myths, it is already on track to become cost-competitive and eventually cheaper than the conventional livestock industry over the next decade.

But the disappearance of animal agriculture is just the beginning. According to Tubb and Seba, PF means that we will be capable of producing all kinds of different molecules from fats and oils to pigments and vitamins, and will open up endless possibilities for new products in the future. This will bring about profound change to the food system as a whole. And while each class of molecule is important the most important, the one that will drive the disruption, is protein.

This blog contains a summary of Rethinking Food and Agriculture, 2019 by Catherine Tubb and Tony Seba.

 

What is a Protein?

Proteins are a class of biomolecule that execute an immense number of functions to make life happen. They are found throughout nature, in plants, animals, fungi, and so on, and are responsible for the many key processes that keep them alive. The ability to manipulate proteins confers the ability to manipulate life itself.

There are many different types of proteins:

  • Structural proteins (keratin, collagen)- Provide structure and support for the cell and the body and allow the body to move.

 

  • Antibodies (immunoglobulin G) – Help protect the body against foreign particles such as viruses and bacteria.

 

  • Enzymes (Amylase, Lactase) – Assist with the formation of new molecules by reading the genetic information in DNA. They speed up reactions and carry out almost all of the thousands of chemical reactions that take place in cells.

 

  • Messenger proteins (Insulin, Growth hormone) – Transmit signals to coordinate biological processes between cells, tissues, and organs.

 

  • Transport proteins (Hemoglobin, Ferritin) – Bind and carry atoms and small molecules within cells and throughout the body.

_______________________

“Every functionality in every living organism on the planet is based on making protein polymers”

-Dan Widmaier, CEO Bolt Threads

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The Protein Universe

How many proteins are there in the world? The short answer is that we don’t exactly know.

Proteins are a key part of the inner and outer workings of all living things, which, given the diversity of species, gives a sense of just how much variety in proteins there exists in the natural world. While similar species groups have a similar base set of proteins – i.e., all mammals produce collagen – even the same type of protein in each animal is different, expressing different properties. If we then apply that to every protein within every system within every organism, the total number of proteins appears larger and larger.

 

To Infinity…

When we break down proteins into their components and examine the question from a genetic perspective, the number of possible proteins is effectively infinite.

Proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids (aa) – ranging from about 100 for short ribosomal proteins to over 33,000 for something like titin, which gives human muscles their elasticity. These linear sequences are held together by different peptide bonds and fold into three-dimensional structures, which give proteins their biological and chemical functionality.

The median length of a eukaryote protein (most living organisms, including plants, fungi, and animals) is about 400 aa. While there are about 500 aa in nature, only 20 of them appear in the genetic code. So, the total number of possible unique proteins of length 400 is 20400. Type this into Google’s scientific calculator and the answer is infinite (other calculators simply give an error message).

The same is true for prokaryota (bacteria and archea) proteins. Prokaryota protein length is about 300 aa, so the total number of possible unique proteins of length 300 is 20300. Again, the answer is ‘infinity’. We finally get a number when we lower the protein length to 225 aa, about 10292. To put that into perspective, there are 1080 atoms in the known universe.

 

…And Beyond

If there are an infinite number of proteins that can theoretically be designed, what does that mean for the food system?

The food system as it currently stands may seem diverse but is actually fairly limited. Aside from being one of the 4 macronutrients, proteins act as key ingredients in foods, bringing functionality like taste, texture, and structure to different products. They are responsible for key properties like emulsification, glazing, binding, and frothing that bring complexity and variation to different foods.

We currently use all kinds of different proteins in the food system – largely sourced from the 12 plants and 5 animals that make up 75% of the world’s foods. Despite the fact that each of these plant and animal species contains a wide variety of proteins that we extract for food, materials or pharmaceuticals, and that altogether they do provide access to a large pool of proteins that are available to use, plants and animals still cannot possibly compete with an infinite number of potential types of protein.

Precision Fermentation is the technology on which the disruption of food and agriculture depends because it does not just allow us to produce proteins – it allows us to produce any proteins. Using genetic engineering we can take the genes that code for any of the proteins we use today from our collection of plants and animals, insert them into a microbe, and produce them through fermentation. But we are not limited to directly copying the proteins we already use; we can use genetic engineering to mix and match genes from different places and even add in synthetic ones to create completely novel proteins. Ones that are upgrades on the ones we use, and ones we have never seen before.

This means that using PF to make proteins for the new food system is not a 1 for 1 substitution. It doesn’t end at simply replicating the proteins we already extract and use in a more efficient way. Instead, it means that new food products can be designed with functionality in mind. Custom proteins mean that we can essentially make and tailor the taste, texture, and structure of food to do anything we want it to.

PF also puts protein and, later, product design, production and distribution in the hands of many. It enables a distributed network of food production, product design and distribution that is far superior and much more expansive than the centralized production system we currently have. In this way, just like with protein, the disruption of the overall food system is not a 1 for 1 replacement of the one we already have – but instead, a totally new system.

Source: RethinkX

The Decisive Role of Conscience: Clues for Non Violence

“Some clues for nonviolence”: 10 – The decisive role of conscience: “A clue to nonviolence

We transmit to you the study “Some clues for nonviolence” carried out by Philippe Moal, in the form of 12 chapters. The general table of contents is as follows:

1- Where are we going?
2- The difficult transition from violence to nonviolence.
3- Prejudices which perpetuate violence.
4- Is there more or less violence than yesterday?
5- Spirals of violence
6- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (a) Disconnection.
7- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (b- Flight).
8- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (c- hyper-connection).
9- The different ways of rejecting violence.
10- The decisive role of consciousness.
11- Transformation or immobilisation.
12- Integrating and overcoming duality and Conclusion.

In the essay dated September 2021, the author expresses his thanks: : Thanks to their accurate vision of the subject, Martine Sicard, Jean-Luc Guérard, Maria del Carmen Gómez Moreno and Alicia Barrachina have given me precious help in the realisation of this work, both in the precision of terms and ideas, and I thank them warmly.

Here is the tenth chapter:

The Decisive Role of Consciousness

Our inventions and creations, the progress of science and technology, but also our beliefs, our ideological choices, our values, our lifestyle, etc. are the fruit of the intentionality of the consciousness that is shaping the world in its image. If consciousness is altered, the resulting world is altered; a violent consciousness generates a violent world, a consciousness on the run produces a runaway world.

The question of consciousness therefore deserves to be addressed, but let us begin with the concept of the unconscious, which is omnipresent in today’s society.

It is true that psychoanalysis and developments on the unconscious have made it possible to unveil our inner world and reveal its meanderings: fear, anguish, resentment, contradiction, compulsions, the desire for revenge, and so on. We know that these inner contents have implications for life and that they are very active. However, today there is a new tendency to resort to the development of consciousness, as if we decided to move to another stage, to change the level of consciousness.

If psychoanalysis has allowed us to understand that the contents of consciousness are active, phenomenology has also allowed us to discover that consciousness is active. The subject of intentionality is arousing great interest. The image inculcated during education, in which consciousness was shown more as a critical judge than as an ally, is being questioned.

The presentation of the active role of the conscience is moving away from the classical theses on the subject. Indeed, the consciousness does not transmit its vision of the world to us according to the information it receives, like a simple mirror; it does not passively reflect the world, but, on the contrary, it does something with the world it perceives. It does not limit itself to evaluating whether what we do is good or bad, but integrates and interprets the data that reaches it and, above all, structures this data, uses it to elaborate responses in order to transform what it perceives, even to transform itself.

Being active, it is therefore mobile and therefore free in its essence, as it is not subject to determinism. We note that fixation on values, beliefs or prejudices immobilises it in conceptions that can cause it to close in on itself and become violent.

It is easy to notice this active aptitude of the conscience. “I ask myself about a particular situation or a problem to be solved without being able to give an immediate answer; sometimes, after several days and in an unusual situation, the answer suddenly appears to me”. The conscience, silently one might say, has continued to search for an answer during all this time. The questions, doubts, needs and desires that I formulate internally are acts that activate the consciousness to give an answer. Technically, we speak of an act-object operation.

However, the initiated acts are not always completed with an object, that is, they do not always find an answer, which generates a tension that, in a certain way, places the consciousness in a constant dynamic, in a state of permanent search, in order to complete the initiated acts.

It is clear that sometimes these acts of consciousness are not completed in an object, because sometimes it happens that the object is not found. Then there remains a line of tension. Fortunately, on the other hand. It is because consciousness is not complete that consciousness is dynamic. It is because consciousness is not stopped, completed in an object, that consciousness can set its various mechanisms in motion [1].

By showing the active nature of consciousness that expresses itself through intentionality, we approach the thesis of phenomenology, according to which the world is given to consciousness, creating a reciprocal interrelation between consciousness, which exists because it is part of this world, and the world, which exists because I am conscious of it, both forming a consciousness-world structure. However, the Husserlian concept must be completed by specifying that intentionality is expressing itself through the image and that consciousness essentially intends to transform the world.

Moreover, with the issue of human intentionality, we are moving away from today’s dominant reductionist theses, according to which only physics and chemistry would explain the essence of life and its evolution, reducing everything to matter.

The premises and background of the idea of active consciousness are to be found in the philosopher Frantz Brentano [2], who, at the end of the 19th century, introduced the notion of intentionality as a basic universal descriptive concept [3]. 3] One of his students, Edmond Husserl, further developed the concept and created phenomenology, describing intentionality as a fundamental structure of consciousness (and not only as a psychological phenomenon). Another pupil of Brentano’s, Sigmund Freud, developed the concept of the unconscious at the same time as Husserl, which shows the effervescence that reigned around the subject of consciousness at that time and which was heralding the discoveries to be made from this time onwards about the inner world of the human being [4].

Until then, past experiences were considered to have little impact on the present and even less on the future. Freud’s great contribution was to demonstrate that the contents of the psyche are active, and this was a real revolution for the time. However, it was Husserl who contributed the concept of the active role of consciousness: not only are the contents of consciousness active, but consciousness itself is also active.

New currents in the field of psychology were making their appearance… The winds of renewal were blowing in, while one by one our old idols were falling: no more Binet tests, no more Rorschach psychological diagnoses, no more Ribot, Wundt, Weber and Fechner… Experimental psychology had become a statistical or neurophysiological branch. The Gestaltists had landed on these beaches so far from the high psychology debate. Wertheimer, Koffka and Köhler were synthesised with behaviourism thanks to Tolman and Kantor. Behind all this, we saw a gigantic methodology which, moreover, was influencing the fields of logic, gnoseology and even ethics and aesthetics. It was the Husserlian phenomenological method that had long ago produced its critique of psychologism and transcended Heidegger and the psychology of existence. The psychoanalytic pantheon then collapsed with Sartre’s criticisms of the schema of the unconscious based precisely on the application of phenomenology. In particular, we discussed one of Sartre’s least studied essays, his magnificent Outline of a Theory of the Emotions [5].

The two schools of thought mentioned above obviously entail different research methodologies for resolving violence. Broadly speaking, let us say that one looks to the past and the other to the future. “With phenomenology, we free ourselves from the worlds behind us”, said Nietzsche.

In one case I see violence according to what I interpret and in the other I interpret it according to what I see. In the first case, there is a tension linked to the fact that I start from the interpretation. In the second case, I start describing without explaining, without analysing, without a previous reading grid, which allows a more relaxed approach to the problem, although it is necessary to be as exhaustive as possible in the description of the phenomenon. Moreover, I can observe without noise and see without interpreting, allowing intuitions and inspiration to emerge.

Nor do we appeal to the action of a supposed subconscious or unconscious, or some other epochal myth whose scientific premises are incorrectly formulated. We rely on a psychology of consciousness that admits diverse levels of work and operations of different pre-eminence in each psychic phenomenon, always integrated in the action of a global consciousness [6].

Research on consciousness does not use the concept of the unconscious, but considers the concept of co-presences [7] which, although we do not see them, although we are not aware of them – in the sense of not being aware of them and not in the sense of being unconscious – have a strong influence on our everyday life. Jean Gebser illustrates the phenomenon as follows: “We never see what we have in front of our eyes, without thinking that to the visible side corresponds a side that is not perceived because it is not visible, but indispensable for the whole to exist [8]”.

The co-presences can be unresolved background noises of everyday life, permanent preoccupations, subjects of reflection that occupy the mind, more deeply rooted beliefs whose values dictate life and intervene when one moves away from a certain line of conduct. The formative stage is therefore very important, as beliefs and values are formed at this time and can resurface at any time.

The co-presences may be at the surface, linked to the contexts in which I live, but they may also come from my more distant memory and resurface suddenly and unexpectedly, by association with situations that I am experiencing in the present. Their accumulated emotional and affective charge can be the trigger for great violence. In a conflict between two people, memories linked to the conflict come to the surface and act in co-presence.

Every individual representation is part of a more or less copresent system of representation, which varies according to the conditions of the memory data. In other words, a response to the world elicited by a stimulus has been selected by a field of copresence among many other possible representations. Thus, the co-presence system, in more than one sense, determines the overall behaviour of individuals and human ensembles [9].

9] Research on consciousness shows that it is primarily oriented towards the future. This vision conditions present behaviour and positively and gradually counteracts the burden of past traumas. Reconciliation with a lived situation, for example, aims at rehabilitation for tomorrow. I was able to experience a real integration of difficult experiences from my past by being able to elaborate future projects related to those same painful experiences.

No phenomenon is predetermined, including violence, as Ilya Prigogine demonstrated in his thermodynamics experiments [10]; there are multiple options in any situation and our free will allows us to always have the possibility to choose.

“We are condemned to be free [11]”, says Sartre, for whom, once thrown into this world that we have not chosen, we are responsible for everything we do in it. If we do not choose, we cannot speak of freedom. One cannot reply: “If one chooses to be violent, one is therefore free”, because this freedom, which is granted by eliminating that of the other, is at the origin of an enchainment, in which case one cannot speak of freedom.

In 1960, in a public speech as assistant pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta with his father, Martin Luther King also invoked the notion of choice: “It is not a choice between violence and non-violence; it is a choice between non-violence and non-existence”.

Silo poetically refers to the need to choose in the chapter The Guide to the Inner Path in his book The Inner Look: “… On the inner path you can walk darkened or luminous. Attend to the two paths that open before you. If you allow your being to be thrown into dark regions, your body wins the battle and dominates. Then sensations and appearances of spirits, of forces, of memories will arise. There you descend further and further. There is hatred, revenge, strangeness, possession, jealousy, the desire to remain. If you descend further, you will be overcome by frustration, resentment and all those reveries and desires that have brought ruin and death to humanity. If you push your being in the luminous direction, you will meet resistance and fatigue at every step. This fatigue of ascent has its culprits. Your life weighs, your memories weigh, your past actions impede the ascent. This ascent is difficult because of the action of your body which tends to dominate [12].

[1] Foundations of thinking. The pure form from the psychological point of view, Silo Lecture, Corfu, October 1975, Winged Lion Editions, 2019, p. 21.

[2] Franz Brentano (1838-1917), German philosopher, author of the reference work Psychology from the Empirical Point of View, Ediciones Sígueme, 2020.

[3] La phénoménologie et les fondements des sciences (Phenomenology and the foundations of the sciences), Hermann, 2019, Edmund Husserl, “Founding text of phenomenology. Husserl establishes here the principles and methods that make possible a new science, the pure descriptive science of the structures of consciousness, transcendental phenomenology. Revealing the implicit laws of intentional life and the constitutive power of intentionality” Jean-François Lavigne, specialist in contemporary philosophy, ontology and phenomenology.

[4] The influence of Husserlian phenomenology on the psychological sciences has been considerable, as has Heidegger’s philosophy derived from it. Many authors belong to this current. Almost all of them have been influenced by the phenomenological method of Franz Brentano and Husserl. The works of Jaspers, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre and Binswanger are universally known. As a psychiatric trend, the Third Viennese School of Viktor Frankl joins this trend. The psychological work methods of Ludwig Ammann in his Self-Liberation System are also well known.

[5] Self-Liberation, op. cit., p. 11.

[6] Contributions to Thought, Psychology of the Image, op. cit. p. 54.

[7] Self-Liberation, op. cit., p. 111.

[8] La imagen del hombre y la conciencia, lecture given in 1965 by Jean Gebser (1905-1973), German philosopher and poet, phenomenologist of consciousness, author of Origen y Presente, published in Spanish by Atalanta, 2011.

[9] La modificación del trasfundo psicosocial, Silo Conference, 4 January 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Source: Pressenza

Phytotherapy, knowledge and experiences 03- “A path to the deep”.

(Image by Claudia Mónica García)

We continue sharing from REHUNO Health the series of notes that Horacio Mesón gives us under the title: Phytotherapy, knowledge and experiences. In this third and final installment, the author invites us to delve into the relationship between his passion and knowledge in Phytotherapy with the depths of his inner world and his purpose in life. As Horacio himself tells us at the end of the article: “Phytotherapy is, for me, the best excuse to carry out my Purpose”.

By Horacio Mesón

My garden is small but with little you can do magic. The house is warm, comfortable and simple.

Summer was ending and our grandson Lorenzo had turned three years old. Very lively, sparkling, awake and emotional, with an interesting character when he plants himself.

I thought it was the right time and, in an orderly way, I took him with me to the garden and introduced him to some aromatic plants. First the creepers and then the shrubs. We gently caressed them.

We went from Peperina to Hierba Buena; then the Muña Muña that we collected last spring in the field. The Manzanilla was the one he liked the most.

We came to the Citronella, the first bush, there was rejection. The Pennyroyal more or less. He liked the Lemon Balm, but when we got to the Rosemary he jumped on it. A smile exploded all over his face without laughter and he hugged it. It was just in flower and he caressed its tops, dragging the scent towards him, I think he was imitating me.

Six months went by and he remembers the names of all of them, for him they already have an entity. But with Rosemary the chemistry, the affinity, the compatibility is very great. A bond was established between them as if they had known each other for a long time?

This link also grows between the three of us, it has the depth of my emotional and ancestral memory.

The plants that I came to as a child playing, out of devotion to my grandparents and then out of necessity, showed me in depth a path that I had already begun.

I came to understand with the heart of a city-dweller, that I have a feeling for Pachamama. That Mother-Earth concept, that unique devotion that I dare to call Love or something similar.

I understand that any “Craft and Discipline” faced with the Inner Force, that is to say with everything and without holding anything back, leaves us on the threshold of what is desired.

I understand that along the way one has passed even without method through certain “places” and registers.

That’s why a scheme of forms is required that allows one to precipitate…

There are key questions and tracer questions, directional questions. They help to focus, to concentrate and bring us closer to goodness.

In the service of what are my vocations? In the service of what are these capacities? Why do I do what I do without thinking about it? What is the motive? Is this my purpose? Do I have a plan? If I do, how do I perfect it? Do I want to go further? How far am I willing to give? What is the Valid Action? What is my greatest desire or aspiration?

Ancient dreams come together with the present and the future. The three times act in a permanent dynamic. Sometimes you think things are coming from the past but they are coming from ahead, from what will be. The register is here and now.


(Image Horacio Mesón)

The purpose was designed and deepened in dreams as children and today it detonates feeding on the future, on what is intuited and inspired.

The warm embrace between peers and the meaningful exchange is so necessary.

Valid action is not just an act, it is an achievement of actions guided by the chosen direction and pulled by the future thanks to the Purpose. Connected to the best of oneself.

If there is something natural as a very human virtue it is the action of Giving, this is the original intention.

A Purpose thrown forcefully out into the world and to others is a whirlwind, a cascade and a myriad of valid actions. And yet it does not live or register as a whirlwind, nor as a waterfall.

The greatest desire or aspiration is to be able to help others until the last moment of my life.

Final question: What then is Phytotherapy for me: “it is the best of excuses to carry out my Purpose”.

So much for the author’s words which complete this series of 3 notes on Phytotherapy. If you would like to know more about this knowledge and experience, please contact the author directly: horaciomeson@yahoo.com.ar

REHUNO Health

Source: Pressenza

Saying Yes to Food Sovereignty, No to Corporate Food Systems

No to corporate food systems! Yes to Food Sovereignty!

Read or download the Political Declaration of the People’s Autonomous Response to the UN Food Systems Summit

Confronting the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, climate chaos, increasing hunger and all forms of malnutrition, ecological destruction and multiple humanitarian crises, we, social movements, indigenous peoples’ articulations, non-governmental organizations, and academics assert our commitment to food sovereignty, and reject the ongoing corporate colonization of food systems and food governance under the façade of the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS).

Industrial food systems, global supply chains and increasing corporate control of food governance are responsible for the inextricably interconnected and existential threats faced by our populations and planet, including the climate crisis, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, land and ocean degradation, air and water pollution, hunger, marginalization, and countless human rights violations. An extractivist development model centered on corporate control of resources, policy debates, and regulatory processes has produced a global food system that has most recently left over two billion people under-nourished and economically destitute. Furthermore, ultra-processed industrial products cause malnutrition, excess weight, and obesity. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to unveil both the structural frailties and global inequities of this corporate market-based approach – a failed model that continues due to deep power asymmetries and a lack of political accountability to ensure that public institutions and policies serve the public good and demands and needs of the most vulnerable. Urgent political actions, from local to international levels based on democratic negotiation and political consensus-building, are needed to address growing inequality across and within countries, structural injustice, gender-based violence, and displacement. The status quo is simply untenable for the majority of the world’s population, and unviable for our youth and future generations. We cannot continue to divert the majority of public resources and institutional authority towards propping up false solutions that serve corporate interests and will fail to tackle these systemic global challenges.

The necessity of rights-based approaches to combating crisis
The only just and sustainable way forward is to immediately halt and transform corporate, globalized food systems. The first step on this path is fully recognizing, implementing, and enforcing the human right to adequate food, which is a human rights obligation of States and UN agencies. While foundational, the right to adequate food is indivisible from other basic human rights, such as the right to health, housing, safe working conditions, living wages, social protection, women and LGBTQIA+ rights, clean environments, and civil-political rights including collective bargaining and political participation, which collectively should be central to any transformational process. With this critical rights-based orientation, public food policy and governance must put peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists, workers, landless, forest-dwellers, consumers, urban and rural poor, and among these women and youth, at the center of governance and policy-making tables. Governments, and regional and international institutions, must support these constituencies’ pathways for transforming corporate food systems through agroecology and food sovereignty. We reject any empty dialogue process which ignores human rights and fails to explicitly and meaningfully elevate the agency of these food systems actors.

UNFSS: illegitimate multistakeholderism enabling corporate power

The UNFSS 2021, initiated by the UN Secretary General shortly after signing a comprehensive agreement with the World Economic Forum (WEF), fails to meet these fundamental requirements. Established by 1000 of the largest corporations in the world, the WEF and its affiliates have been controlling the Summit’s design, structure, processes, governance and content. Large multinational corporations are increasingly infiltrating the multilateral spaces of the United Nations to co-opt the narrative of sustainability, and divert it back into the channels of further industrialization with digital and biotechnologies, extraction of wealth and labor from rural communities, and concentration of corporate power in national-global governance. The capital and technology focused agenda proposed by the UNFSS reflects these corporate interests and is politically, socially, economically and ecologically destabilizing. We denounce the UNFSS 2021 for disregarding the urgent need to address the gross power imbalances that corporations hold over food systems and this UN event, and we reject false solutions which will continue to oppress and exploit people, communities and territories.

Instead of being grounded in human rights, the UNFSS is a multistakeholder forum in which all actors, whether governments, individuals, regional/international agencies, or business/corporation representatives are portrayed as equal participants. But stakeholders are not necessarily rights-holders: people’s and communities’ rights and sovereignty should not be confused with private-sector business interests. While majority of the world’s food is produced by small-scale producers and workers, this individuated multistakeholder process gives outsized power to a few powerful corporations that control food, agricultural and capital markets. The so-called Scientific Group of the UNFSS impoverishes the scientific basis for responsible policy making: it advances narrow, corporate backed narratives and excludes diverse forms of knowledge and areas of expertise such as agroecology, indigenous knowledge and human rights. The lack of adequate Conflict of Interest safeguards in the Summit processes has allowed corporate-driven coalitions to position themselves as agents for implementing public policies with public resources, but without the accountability mechanisms, mandates and transparency standards of public institutions.

We will not accept this top-down, non-transparent and unequal process of deliberations that has resulted in corporate friendly “Coalitions of Action.” The capital-intensive, proprietary technologies and products proposed as “game changing solutions” will be ecologically destructive, deepen extractivism, colonialism, patriarchy and inequality, and open up more areas for corporate expansion and control.

The failure of the UNFSS governance structure has been laid bare, as many ‘stakeholders’ are walking away from the process and no political consensus has been reached among UN member states for truly transformative pathways forward to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda. In this context we find it unacceptable that the UNFSS, as a non-normative process with an illegitimate governance structure, is attempting to infringe on and undermine the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which is an intergovernmental system, and the foremost and most inclusive UN multilateral body for food governance, with the authority and legitimacy to lead food system dialogues and policy-making. The UNFSS does not have this authority and violates the CFS’s mandate and reform statutes. We demand that the inclusive vision and processes of the CFS be recognized and strengthened. We also remind UN leadership that the UNFSS has no mandate or legitimacy beyond September 23rd, 2021, and we urge our governments to defend multilateralism, and rights-based and participatory policy-making, as established by CFS member states regarding the rules of participation of civil society organizations and social movements.

Food sovereignty for food system transformation

The struggle for sustainable, just and healthy food systems cannot be unhooked from the realities of the peoples whose rights, knowledge and livelihoods have gone unrecognized and disrespected. We have the viable solutions to address the systemic problems in our food systems. As we have demanded in our People’s Autonomous Response to the UN Food Systems Summit, the transformation of food systems must be ecological and socially transformative, putting forward a feminist vision of equality and justice. Since 1996, social movements and civil society have been building a global movement and community-based processes of governance around the vision of food sovereignty, based on agroecology, and the rights and aspirations of small-scale food producers, workers, indigenous peoples, women, youth and rural-urban communities.

In this 25th year anniversary of food sovereignty, we reaffirm our unity and commitment to push for radically transformative strategies which recognize peoples’ needs, accord dignity, respect nature, put people above profits, resist corporate capture, and work collectively towards a fair and decent food system for all.

Source: CSM: Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism

La Via Campesina: The UN Food Systems Summit is hogwash. It is a threat to peoples’ food sovereignty

La Via Campesina’s Press Statement | September 22nd 2021, Harare:

La Via Campesina is among scores of other social movements of organized small-scale food producers, workers and indigenous people boycotting the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), slated to take place in New York – September 23rd, 2021. Peoples’ movements are united in condemning the illegitimacy of this ‘summit’ and in denouncing the attempt by transnational corporations to usurp the institutional spaces within the United Nations.

Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) that comprise social movements including La Via Campesina has pointed out that the pre-summit events held in July are now erecting parallel governance structures. UNFSS is undermining the existing institutions and multilateral bodies responsible for developing global policy frameworks for food and agriculture. Several member states are left wondering what this Summit intends to achieve and whether its outcomes would be binding upon developing national policy frameworks. It will override the existing institutions such as the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and forebodes a corporate takeover of the global food governance.

For sure, the global food systems must undergo a radical overhaul. Rising hunger, ecological harm from food production, including deforestation, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, decimated fisheries, polluted waters, growing rural poverty, the continued repression of peasant and indigenous movements worldwide, displacement and climate crises – all point to the need for urgent transformation. The demand to transform the global food system and skew it in favour of small-scale food producers has been a long-standing one, stated first during the Civil Society Forum in Rome in 1996.

Yet when the Secretary-General of the United Nations announced two years ago that a Food Systems Summit (FSS) would be held in late 2021, the news was puzzling. Why did the Secretary-General initiate this food summit in partnership with the World Economic Forum – a private sector body – when the FAO hosted all the previous editions after specific mandates from the Members States? To leave no further doubt about the corporate interests driving the Food System Summit, the Special Envoy appointed for the Summit, Agnes Kalibata, is the president of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). This Gates/Rockefeller funded agency is pushing high input, high tech agriculture and GMO seeds. Founded in 2006, this Alliance has worked in 13 African countries to increase productivity for 30 million smallholder farming households by encouraging industrial farming adoption. Despite AGRA’s promises of doubling crop productivity and incomes while halving food insecurity by 2020, backed by billions of donor dollars, it has been unable to provide documentation of delivering on these goals. AGRA’s failures on the continent and Ms Kalibata’s apparent conflicts of interest in her role as UNFSS Special Envoy resulted in broad resistance from social movements and civil society.

The farce of ‘inclusiveness.’

The Summit organizers follow a multi-stakeholder approach as against a multilateral arrangement. Multilateral Summits, based on human rights, with transparent decision-making processes and accountability mechanisms, are meant to prioritize the voices of rights-holders and hold governments responsible for upholding those rights. But this “UN Food Systems Summit” is based on the idea of “multi-stakeholder” – treating all stakeholders as equal, without considering power imbalances or their position in the system. This fiction of equality leaves the powerful both unchallenged and unaccountable, hiding or ignoring any conflicts of interest. By conflating private corporate interests with the public interest, it overrides and erases the latter. To advertise “inclusiveness”, it has proliferated a dizzying array of platforms, dialogues, consultations, committees, documents and forums for participation. Private citizens and governments are being drawn into these processes. Some of these are open, but many are for invited participants, bypassing and undermining autonomous, democratic organizations while favouring hand-picked individuals. The entire process lacks transparency and legitimacy. Who is making decisions? On what grounds? Who is accountable? To whom?

The guise of progressive language

In July this year, La Via Campesina was among the members of the CSM that co-organized counter mobilizations – to call out the unacceptability that has come to define this year’s food systems summit. A wide variety of attendees came together and catalyzed and amplified a counter-narrative to the official proceedings. With critical articles and pieces published in major media outlets, and several thousands of #FoodSystems4People posts on social media seen by potentially 10 million users, the counter-mobilization succeeded in reaching a broad public with its vision for genuine transformation of unsustainable food systems.

This organized resistance rattled the organizers of the official Summit. In response, they have now ramped up the use of progressive language (“sustainability”, “nature-positive-solutions”, “planetary boundaries”, “women’s empowerment”, etc.) and references to human rights in their documents. But the primary orientation of the FSS remains firmly rooted in the corporate interests that initiated it rather than the demands and rights of people producing food and those most impacted by current food systems. It continues to confirm a narrow range of scientific partisans data while ignoring the traditional and experiential knowledge of small-scale farmers, indigenous, peasant, and rural peoples. Digitalization, genetic modification, precision agriculture, and other chemical-, capital-, and fossil fuel-heavy approaches are taking centre stage because these so-called solutions are the most profitable to corporations (at the expense of the environment and farmers’ livelihoods).

As the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food notes, “Intensive industrial agriculture relies on high-input, high-output agricultural systems, dominated by large-scale specialized farms. Ever since Governments started adopting the Green Revolution in the 1950s, the world’s food systems have been increasingly designed along industrial models, the idea being that if people can purchase industrial inputs – synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and carbon-reliant machines – then they can produce a large amount of food. Productivity was not measured in terms of human and environmental health, but exclusively in terms of commodity output and economic growth.”

Unfortunately, the UN Food Systems Summit ignores all these warnings and continues to bat for an intensive corporate-led agricultural model that masquerades as “solutions”.

Forebodings of a new global governance structure?

This Summit attacks from the front and will undermine existing global policymaking spaces and institutions like FAO and the CFS. Instead, it erects a parallel architecture to suit agribusiness interests. The Summit organizers are now encouraging stakeholders to form “coalitions of action” to implement “solutions”. Governments are encouraged to develop “national pathways” with stakeholder coalitions, many of which will inevitably be dominated by those who can afford to fund them. Middle and Low-income countries are vulnerable to entering “coalitions” with investors and philanthrocapitalists, such as the Gates Foundation, to carve out “national pathways” profitable for their coalition partners.

The resistance to this parallel structure is coming from within the official Summit too. In her resignation letter (dated August 25/21), Dr Kristy Buckley, Chair of the UNFSS Governance Action Area, derided the attempts to view the global food governance “through the lens of innovation, finance, technology and data, with no regard to human rights, gender, and Indigenous Peoples”. Her statement is a vindication of what social movements have been warning for a long time.

The real solution to climate crises, hunger, distress migration and extreme poverty lies with the people. It must emerge from the principles of food sovereignty and social justice. It must recognize food as a fundamental human right and not as a commodity for speculative trade. It must respect the diverse agroecological small-scale food systems that exist in our territories.

The “UN Food Systems Summit” of 2021 is an anti-thesis to these principles and threatens peoples’ food sovereignty. La Via Campesina will not remain silent. The UNFSS has no mandate, legitimacy, or authority to extend beyond September 23rd, 2021. We must prevent the Summit’s corporate affiliates from further embedding the multi-stakeholder structure into the UN food and agriculture agencies. Throughout this week, La Via Campesina’s member organization will hold counter mobilizations in Asia, Africa and Europe. Our North American members and allies will be holding a virtual counter-summit on September 23rd to expose the real agenda behind this Summit while also presenting the elements of the radical transformation we seek in the global food systems.

Source: La Via Campesina

Our Population Challenge Beyond Climate Change

Do we plan for a secure and better life, or carry on blindly toward a minefield of lethal limits? 

 

By Brian McGavin, writer and environmentalist, is a director of Scientists Warning Europe. 

Most people are left in ignorance by politicians and mainstream media, who rarely think beyond the here and now. When informed about unsustainable consumption and human population growth they are shocked or deny the depth of interconnected challenges and the steps we need to take for a sustainable future, that go well beyond action on climate change.

 

The media invariably cloak population growth in terms of ‘increased demand’ – which narrow thinking growth economists portray as ‘good’ for growth. The key driver of overpopulation is at best ignored for ‘downstream’ sticking plaster responses by politicians and too often by ‘Greens’ who target ‘rights’ over ecological and resource realities.

 

“There is no social justice on a wrecked planet” –Brian McGavin

 

The type of powerful question put to former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – and his reply was notable. We need to frame more clear questions to our politicians like this.

 

“Human population growth has more than doubled in the past 50 years. The planet cannot sustain this growth. I realize this is a poisonous topic for politicians, but it’s crucial to face. Empowering women and educating everyone on the need to curb population growth seems a reasonable campaign to enact. Would you be courageous enough to discuss this issue and make it a key feature of a plan to address climate catastrophe?”  

Sanders responded unambiguously: “Well, Martha, the answer is yes.”

 

Issue avoidance

A WWF reference to ‘mitigate human and elephant conflict’ in a newsletter doesn’t shout ever more human overpopulation pressure as a causal factor, or anything WWF wants to do about this. WWF advertising is a constant reset button of ‘save’ animals and give money so we can fight this decline – and it has been going on for over 50 years as our amazing bio-diversity crashes. NGOs and politicians need to engage in a much more honest dialog.

We face Systemic Population Denialism that is intellectually bankrupt and dangerously ignorant.  Where drastic exaggeration is used by people resistant to reality. When we raise our voices, we are obstructed by ill-informed media commentators with predicable recycled challenges on ageing population scares and how we need to increase births and immigration. Low birth-rate countries like Japan are NOT suffering a socio-economic crisis – and there are still 38 million people in the Tokyo metropolis alone!

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger observes:

‘Good democracy relies on good information’.

 

Professor John Beddington, UK Government Chief Scientist in March 2009 warned that:

Our food reserves are at a 50-year low, but by 2030 we need to be producing 50% more food, we will need 50% more energy, and 30% more fresh water.”  

In 2017 over 20,000 scientist in 189 countries signed a Second Warning to Humanity, warning that humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in solving foreseen environmental challenges and most of them are getting much worse.

We simply don’t have the time for a gradualist message and we have to speed up the timeframe for action in people’s minds. Simplistic propositions by ill-informed, growthist commentators that developed economies were ideally placed to take in Africa’s exploding populations need shredding. Nor are we facing a ‘fertility collapse’, as growth pundits try to claim.

If governments won’t talk population, then they are not serious about cutting emissions, ensuring food supplies and a secure quality of life for our future.

At the heart of green politics is the simple premise that our prosperity depends completely on a healthy, functioning planet. Go on abusing the planet, go on ignoring climate change, go on ignoring population growth, and all else fails – including our deepest yearning for human rights.  (Jonathon Porritt, environmentalist)

We face huge interconnected challenges but it is easier to attract support for simple projects like saving a forest, than addressing ‘big-picture’ global problems. Major environmental groups keep their marketing too simple for the scale of the problems. Many environmental problems impact poor communities, but the social justice movement shows little interest in working with environmentalists on key challenges like biodiversity, resource depletion and overpopulation, deeming the latter as a racist agenda. We need to be clear and assertive not apologetic.

Environmental groups like XR and WWF talk about climate breakdown and ecological collapse but refuse to acknowledge the underlying over population demand driver, as they see it as ‘divisive, threatening or toxic’.

Unless we work collectively and stop creating wilful barriers of ignorance, because it might disturb people’s beliefs and comfort zones, we are leading our children to the abyss. A toxic intergenerational contract.

 

The ‘coercion’ taboo

Population concern organisations often run scared of any hint of population coercion. This can’t be sustained much longer as key resources decline and societies start to fall apart. In fact, society readily accepts values that could be interpreted as ‘coercive’ for the common good, with legal sanctions on the ‘freedom’ to drive at high speed in built up areas and fiscal incentives to discourage harmful behaviour. If we are to have any chance of a sustainable future we need to ‘incentivise’ fewer births rather than more, through the tax system and increase understanding so people make informed, socially responsible decisions in family size rather than merely saying it’s an individual choice.

 

Many people driven by self-centred beliefs will completely ignore calls for socially responsible decisions if this is all we are prepared to say. Yet social justice lobbies call for us to change to a vegan diet and travel less to compensate for ‘unavoidable’ population growth pressures.

 

 A long-term sustainable population is a ‘life-affirming’ message with many benefits for living standards and reduced infrastructure pressures.

 

Several countries, like Taiwan, Japan, Iran and Bangladesh) have transitioned to lower birth rates without coercion.

What about the rights of children to a sustainable future, rather than the ‘rights’ of parents to have large families?

 

The Ageing Population Scare – a transition not a crisis. The challenge of supporting aging populations is grossly over emphasized.  We spend more on cosmetics than we will need to support a temporary rise in older people. It is a phony argument that we need more people and more immigration to support ageing populations. Young people generally cost society more – in crime, in education and other ways. With typical short-term vision, we forget that all these extra young people get old too and will need support. The media and politicians never highlight this.

Mainstream media invariably frames any population decline as a ‘bad’ that has to be reversed for our continued well-being and economic growth.

 

A typical example appeared in The Times (UK) July 4, 2019 headlining Italian birth rates fall to lowest since 1861, “Prompting fears that the country is facing a sharp demographic decline.” “Russia is facing an even graver demographic crisis after the UN warned that its population could fall to half the present level by the end of the century.”

 

Another country with a ‘worryingly’ declining population is ‘stagnant’ Japan.  Yet the greater Tokyo metropolis is currently the world’s most populated city at around 38 million. Japan is well organised and on current fertility rates is projected to leave the list of world’s largest cities to be replaced before 2100 by Lagos at 88 million, Kinshasa 83m and Kabul in 10th place at 50m. (Population predictions for the world’s largest cities in the 21st century, Daniel Hoornweg, University of Ontario and Kevin Pope) 2017).  These cities are already chaotic at their current populations. Imagine them facing such numbers.

 

Sustainable numbers and UN Goals

The Second Scientists Warning to Humanity in 2017 listed 13 action points. The last point (m) said: “estimating a scientifically defensible sustainable human population size for the long term. Rallying nations is the UN’s job, but how do we define a long-term sustainable population?   

Global population is still growing at 1.036% a year and consumption at 3% a year, with resources declining rapidly.

Using Global Footprint data, the current average ecological footprint per capita would mean a sustainable population size for the long term would now be around 4.4 billion. But since there is no allowance made in this regularly updated snapshot for leaving any bio-capacity to conserve biodiversity, or depletion of non-renewable resources and enabling developing countries to reach more equitable living standards, we have to look at a lower population stabilisation nearer 3 billion – a number endorsed by respected ecologists like David Pimentel and Paul Ehrlich.

 

Unless we work collectively and stop creating wilful barriers of ignorance, because it might ‘disturb people’s beliefs and comfort zones’, our society and much of the planet’s bio-diversity will collapse before the end of the century, as critical food, energy and water resources become ever scarcer. Some might survive in an oppressive dystopia. We must plan for an equitable and responsible transition that preserves much of the diversity of our planet and a viable future for our children.

 

Cycle of silence.

Media coverage of environmental issues varies but remains historically low given its critical importance. There has been an upswing of concern with climate change and Extinction Rebellion protests but the media soon drifts back to celebrity gossip, economic growth and sport.

 

Today’s social media, with its narrow-framed ‘follow’ tags and identity politics, too often fails to see a wider connected picture. Dealing with complex issues on Twitter in 140 characters is practically impossible in a chain of slogans and responses. Celebrity manufactured social media gossip is off the scale of any proportionality and meaning. The baby boomer generation, not content with hoovering up household wealth and pensions of the generations below them are stealing from the future to pay for the present, while millennial media bubbles obsess with identity politics and seeking ‘safe space’. What matters is shaping the complex interactions and events we are all living through – absurd house prices, growing ecological collapse and the declining hope that tomorrow will be better than today

 

We are facing multiple and urgent global challenges, while the sheer stupidity of global turf wars for domination in fragile countries across the Middle East and Africa continue. We must appeal to sanity and the wider issues we must tackle.

 

Overpopulation and demand drives people to destroy the very resources they need to survive – freshwater, soils and forests. The social justice movement shows no interest in working with environmentalists. They simply have no concept of the impact of endless growth in our numbers and demand on biodiversity, infrastructure pressures and food security.

Religious extremism, from fundamentalist Christians, to ultra-orthodox Jews, to patriarchal Muslim cultures who all believe large families are integral to their beliefs and ignore the multiple environmental and social impacts is another barrier to sustainability. The denial of fertility management support translates into coercive child-bearing.

.

Given the immense challenges that will likely see starvation and conflict over remaining resources in the lifetime of people alive today, why would we think it better to create energy shortages, food shortages, lowered quality of life, a housing crisis, grid-locked traffic, bio-diversity loss, and many more calamities caused by ever increasing population pressures?

 

A lower population offers an enormous upside to environmental and social problems.

 

  • We avoid awful things like mass starvation, resource wars, rising pollution and catastrophic bio-diversity loss.

 

  • Small families in developing countries helps parents to afford their children’s education.

 

  • Ever more people simply drives humanity to a lower and lower standard of living.

 

  • Climate breakdown is an acknowledged danger, yet governments ignore the simple, most cost effective step we can take to reduce emissions – having fewer children. Several studies have shown this. (See drawdown.org and Wynes and Nicholas).

 

A number of tactics are widely used to grossly exaggerate claims and suppress discussion. There are common sense answers to all these challenges.

 

  • Population shaming Worrying about population growth and advocating for stabilisation and reduction is motivated by morally reprehensible characteristics like racism.
  • Population growth is good. Economies thrive with more people – increasing consumption. Population and technology gamble will resolve environmental problems of more people. Population fatalism Population may be a problem but there’s nothing we can do about it. Don’t scare the kids is a new media angle since climate warnings by teen activists.
  • Large families are caused by poverty. But large families amongst the rich go unnoticed. Regular TV shows showcase large families without any thought of the impact on others.
  • Lack of infrastructure is the fault of austerity not demand. Lack of housing and hospital beds is blamed on government cutbacks. We simply turn swords into ploughshares and infrastructure will be delivered. But the need to reduce total throughput and impact is ignored.
  • China’s former One-Child policy was coercive and denied ‘human rights’. In fact, China’s one-child policy was widely supported by the people because they were well informed by the government on the benefits. It lifted millions out poverty, helped China’s spectacular rise in living standard and only applied to people in cities. People in rural areas could have two children.  Now China has dropped the limit, with a still huge population because it swallowed the scare that there will be too few young people to support the transient phenomenon of an ageing population.
  • The Ageing Population Scare – a transition not a crisis. The challenge of supporting aging populations is grossly over emphasized. We spend more on cosmetics than we will need to support a temporary rise in older people. It is a phony argument that we need more young people and more immigration to support an ageing population. Young people generally cost society more – in crime, in education and many other ways. We forget they get old too and will need support. The media and politicians never highlight this.
  • Malthus was wrong. We are doing fine. Thomas Malthus’s essay in 1798 on the Principle of Population, predicting mass starvation if human numbers kept on rising, was only wrong in his timing. He couldn’t then know of the one-time binge the discovery of fossil fuels would give to global economic growth and how oil enabled the development of intensive agriculture.

 

Population Ignorant statements

Many media commentators ignore “doomsday” warnings, not because there is no supporting evidence, but because it does not fit with their long-held convictions of how the world works. Other tactics include ‘the practice of ‘Defamation’ to censor inconvenient truths.

Being a ‘National Treasure’ appears to be a license to talk rot.  (Alex Massie. The Spectator, 26/9/2013). Take the case of Sir David Attenborough. The poor booby is another neo-Malthusian. Which is another reminder that expertise in one area is no guarantee of good sense in another.

 

Australian bishop raps Green Party campaign on population fears 19/8/ 2010. Bishop Anthony Fisher. “The fears of a population explosion are absurd. Australia has close to the lowest population density in the world. Most of our country by far is uninhabited.”   (Yes – it’s desert!)

 

We have to change the mind-set of political leaders. Swedish Minister Ylva Johansson said her country “would take in refugees and “improve its population demographics with a smile.”

 

Brian McGavin, writer and environmentalist, is a director of Scientists Warning Europe. 

 

Dairy Free Milk for Disadvantaged Families

Doctors Urge UK Government To Add Dairy-Free Milk To Programs For Disadvantaged Families

A host of medical professionals have penned an open letter to the UK government regarding its ‘discriminatory’ food schemes.  A new open letter calls on the UK government to update its policies to be more inclusive Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.

On World Plant Milk Day (August 22, 2021), Plant-Based Health Professionals UK calls for the UK Government to add fortified plant milks, alongside cow’s milk, within the Healthy Start Scheme (England/Wales/Ireland), Best Start Foods (Scotland) and School Holiday Food Parcels.

Discriminatory policy

Only allowing the purchase of cow’s milk is a discriminatory policy that excludes children with lactose malabsorption or intolerance, a natural state that is most prevalent amongst people of colour and present in 70 percent of the world’s population.

Children who are lactose intolerant but continue to consume dairy for its purported health benefits, may experience abdominal pain, diarrhoea and fatigue, and other negative impacts of dairy intolerance. This policy also excludes and discriminates against children with cow’s milk protein allergy, which is now the commonest cause of food-related anaphylactic death in children in the UK.

The current schemes also discriminate and exclude vegans, who have adopted an ethical lifestyle choice, which is considered a protected belief as defined by the Equality Act of 2010. In fact, a third of UK household now buy plant-based milks.

Health risks of dairy

Not only is cow’s milk unnecessary within a healthy balanced diet, its consumption has been associated with an increased risk of a number of chronic health conditions in children, including acne, eczema, asthma, type I diabetes, which negatively affects their quality of life. In adults, milk consumption has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, the strongest link being with prostate cancer, the commonest cancer in men.

Despite decades of industry marketing suggesting that dairy consumption is necessary and beneficial for bone health, scientific studies do not support this narrative. In fact, some large population based studies have reported the opposite; those consuming the most dairy have an increased risk of bone fractures.

In contrast, swapping cow’s milk for fortified soya milk has several potential health benefits. Consuming soya as a child reduces the future risk of breast cancer in women. Women who consume soya milk in place of cow’s milk may significantly reduce their risk of breast cancer, with one large study reporting a 32 percent reduced risk. Fortified soya milks provide similar quantities of protein and calcium to cow’s milk but in a healthier package without exposing children to saturated fat, mammalian oestrogen and growth hormones.

The 2019 revision of the Canadian dietary guidelines has stayed true to the science and removed dairy as a food group. We also applaud the Scottish government for adding soya milk to their Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme.

Environmental impact of dairy

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) titled Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. António Guterres, the UN secretary general, called this ‘a code red for humanity. The report clearly finds that human activity has warmed the atmosphere, the ocean and the land on a scale that is ‘unprecedented’ over thousands of years.

Animal agriculture is a major driver of the climate and ecological crises, with recent analysis suggesting it contributes at least 16.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Ruminant animals, mainly cows, contribute to more than half of these emissions and therefore we need to drastically reduce and eventually eliminate our consumption and reliance on cow’s milk.

Government food and health policies now needs to align with those required to avert the pending climate disaster. This can be done immediately by providing families in need with healthy and sustainable choices. All plant milks have a significantly lower environmental footprint than cow’s milk, with soya being one of the most sustainable options.

Plant-Based Health Professionals UK calls upon the Government of all four nations to promote and provide access to fortified plant-milks as well as cow’s milk for the sake of our health and that of the planet.

The World Plant Milk Day Challenge

Now in its fifth year, World Plant Milk Day founded by Plant Based News’ co-founder Robbie Lockie, hosts a website that offers a 7-day dairy-free challenge. Participants enter their name and email and for 7 days receive emails, with tips and tricks on how to live dairy-free. The campaign is supported by non-profits such as Veganuary, and Switch4Good.

Source: Plant based news

Meat without the Moo

How lab-grown meat could be in UK restaurants in just two years’ time – and the firms bringing it to the table

Biotechnology company CellulaREvolution is developing new processes to speed up and cut the cost of cultured meat production

The Government’s Build Back Better campaign has seen £4bn of taxpayer cash pledged to create 250,000 “green jobs” in the drive to cut carbon emissions by 2050. With the so-called “green industrial revolution” now officially under way, this special iMoney series looks at what qualifies as a green job.

Leo Groenewegen, co-founder of biotechnology company CellulaREvolution in Newcastle upon Tyne, is developing new processes to speed up and cut the cost of cultured meat production – a revolution that could significantly help the environment.

Feeding the world’s growing population with finite resources is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Livestock accounts for 14.5 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change hit the headlines recently after a major United Nations scientific report warned of “a code red for humanity” and that human activity is causing harm in unprecedented, sometimes irreversible ways.

Scientists warn that we cannot sustain our current demand for meat. The National Food Strategy, a review commissioned by the Government, recently urged that the UK’s meat consumption has to fall by 30 per cent in the next decade to reach targets related to health and climate change.

The industry causes major pressing environmental problems, including deforestation, biodiversity loss and air and water pollution.

Cultivated – or lab-grown – meat could address these challenges by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using less land and water, preserving habitat and preventing manure pollution and antibiotic overuse.

What is cultured meat?

Cultured meat, sometimes called lab-grown, clean or cultivated meat, is grown in a lab from cells extracted from animals.

“Cultured beef molecularly is exactly the same as the meat tissue that comes from a cow,” said Mr Groenewegen, whose company started in 2019 as a spin-off from Newcastle University.

“There is no need to slaughter the animals. You take a small sample or biopsy from the animal. It’s non-invasive, it’s the same as taking a blood sample. The cells are placed in a bioreactor and there they proliferate and differentiate to form tissue.”

He explains that mimicking more complex cuts of meat – a filet mignon, for instance – requires additional techniques, such as growing muscle and fat cells on “scaffolds” made of a material such as gelatin or collagen.

To grow cultured meat, you take a small sample or biopsy from the animal (Photo: AFP)

What benefits does lab-grown meat potentially bring?

Recent studies by independent research firm CE Delft show that, compared with conventional beef,  meat cultivated directly from cells may cause up to 92 per cent less global warming and 93 per cent less air pollution, and use up to 95 per cent less land and 78 per cent less water.

According to the Good Food Institute, cultivated meat can be produced more quickly and efficiently, with little waste.

“In the seven weeks it takes a farmer to raise a flock of 20,000 chickens, a meat cultivation facility could theoretically produce a million times as much meat from a starter culture the size of a single egg,” it explains.

But while veganism is a growing trend in the UK, many doubt whether people are motivated to cut back their meat consumption enough to help save the planet.

Cultivated meat has the potential to help us achieve climate goals without dramatic shifts in consumption patterns.

Additionally, cultured meat could be healthier for us, says Mr Groenewegen. “You can modify it as you want, for example its fat content. There are no microplastics in your fish and no antibiotics. There’s no bacteria – E. coli or salmonella which can occur in slaughtered animals. It also reduces the risk of zoonotic disease like Covid because there’s less interaction between factory farms and humans.”

What are the challenges?

The cost of producing lab-grown meat has been the main hurdle. The first dish-grown beef burger in 2013 cost $330,000, or around £240,000, and took a Netherlands company over two years to produce. The cost of an individual lab burger is expected to fall to around £7.50 this year.

“The price has really gone down, really rapidly,” said Mr Groenewegen. “It’s still too expensive for the everyday consumer at the moment and not quite as competitive as a standard burger. That’s what we are working on with our technology.”

And of course, if you want to sell a product, there’s one group you need to convince: consumers. “I think younger people are going to lead the way in embracing cultured meat.”

How can these challenges be overcome?

“We are developing enabling technologies, which will allow other companies to scale up their production,” said Mr Groenewegen. “Specifically, we are developing multiple types of bioreactors.”

This equipment will allow companies to change from producing the cultured meat in time-consuming batch methods and switch to continuous production. This will increase their yield and bring down manufacturing costs.

“For example, a small steak will contain 10 billion cells and using traditional batch processes this could take a single bioreactor one month to produce. Our technology could shorten that to a few days.”

Mr Groenewegen predicts that far from being a thing of science fiction, lab-grown meat is definitely on the near horizon. He expects CellulaREvolution, which has 10 employees, to at least triple its workforce in the next few years.

“I think that we are two to three years away from seeing cultured meat in high-end restaurants,” he said. “For it to go mainstream and be available on supermarket shelves, I think is four to five years away.”

Mr Groenewegen said that to bring down the cost, we will likely see products that contain a blend of cultured meat and plant-based ingredients.

Source: iNews UK

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