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Adapting to a new, different concept of peace

category international | consumer issues | opinion/analysis author Thursday November 17, 2005 15:33author by Kathy Sinnott Report this post to the editors

Be aware of the 'P' list: power, politics, 'peace' and policies

There is a very active organic college in Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick. Everyone there obviously loves what they are doing, in pursuing not just a different way of producing food but a different way of life.

People like to characterise the organic choice as 'alternative'. In one sense this is a skewed notion because it seems to indicate something different from the real thing and in organic farming, we have the real thing - it is highly chemicalised farming that is 'alternative'.

I think that if Drumcollogher is going to survive and succeed, they must be aware of that 'P' list of power, politics, 'peace' and policies that is informing the emerging trends in farming and food production. It is only since I have become and MEP that I realised it was appropriate to include 'peace' with a list like power, politics and policies. Peace is something I hope we all aspire to for others, ourselves and for the world. It is something we all think we understand, but would probably express in many different ways. Asked for a quick definition of peace, I would say it is going to bed early with a hot water bottle and a good book. If pressed further, I would say that for me it is to be right with God and man.

Peace, I have come to understand, is a very different thing in today's politics. It is a concept which means the absence of war, or at least the absence of war in the developed world.

In this concept, peace is when no country is self-sufficient and every country is dependent for the necessities of life on every other country. Then, so it goes, countries will have to co-operate and no country will be able to afford to fight. In this context, globalisation is actually a peace plan which is advanced by what is termed an open global marketplace. In such a marketplace, the whole world is forced to specialise. Sugar will be grown in Brazil, pomergranates in Afghanistan, coffee in Ehtiopia, cocoa in the Ivory Coast, hardwoods in Indonesia, soft in Scandinavia, oil will come from the Middle East, minerals from Africa, textiles will be produced in China, steel in India. As the theory goes, quality food processing and so called high chain jobs will be located in Western Europe and of these pharmaceutical and software research and development in Ireland. I have simplified but this is the trend.

In this strategy, no one seems to be willing to entertain that once every country is dependent, they can be held to ransom by a country willing to make the sacrifice of doing without the necessities they don't have. Within this favoured strategy for global peace, food is becoming a particularly important weapon. GMOs make sense in this context. GMOs promise to ensure mass cropping and weather and pest proofing to ensure global specialisation of food production and even better for globalisation, GMOs ensure control of food supply by multinationals which are seen as a model of peaceful co-operation in this definition of peace.

Organic farming and gardening is the very antithesis of the peace strategy. It is based on nature, not economics. Economics are important marketing organic produce but it is economics as a means, not an end. With the necessary respect for ecosystems, complimentary, natural pest control, crop rotation and other nature respecting practises, organic farmers cannot slot easily into the global market place. Unless of course, they can convince the region in which the farm is, to specialise in organic food production and processing. In that case, organic farmers have all the benefits of the open global market without compromising farming practices. Hopefully, if globalisation happens, this will happen and I for one will be supporting this.

However, whatever happens with the open market place, I hope organic farmers will have learned to grow real food with real nutrients and there will always be people who through an experience of sickness or a valuing of health or flavour and quality have come to rely and appreciate food as it was meant to be.

In my 35 years away from America, I have rarely celebrated Thanksgiving but this year I and my children have been invited to do so. I am glad because it is an opportunity to share the feast and thank God for the blessing of His good food, for family and friends, for opportunities and for trials. Being thankful and sharing the feast is for me the secret of a real preace strategy.

author by timpublication date Thu Nov 17, 2005 15:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Humans were originally hunter gatherers not farmers -it is obvious for biodiversity and the environment that humans should return to hunting and gathering wearing animal skins picking berriers and using stones and sticks as tools - the benefits for the environment would be immediately apparent.

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