Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Daniel's Carrots

You might wonder why I link the welfare of Shrewsbury MP, Daniel Kawczynski's carrots with the threat of riots in some of the poorest countries of the world. But I do. The precise details of the saga of Daniel's carrots is not known to me. However, I did learn from his letter, printed in today's Telegraph, that he grows organic carrots, that they have been attacked by carrot fly, and that he was refused the insecticide needed by his local garden centre because it has been banned by the European Union. There will be no home grown carrots on the Kawczynski table this year - in itself not a world shattering event. But read on.

This issue has a wider relevance than the impact on the carrot growers of Shawbury, where Daniel, Kate and little Alexis live. This is because the EU has introduced an effective ban on many widely used insecticides - often by requiring a safety assessment that is so expensive, that it's cost-effective only for products that enjoy a very high sales base. Much of this may well have environment justification, but there will be significant reductions in grain yields as a result. The Home Grown Cereals Association is already issuing dire warnings.

At a time when the cost of grain is already flying because of increasing demand in the emerging economies, together with the diversion of millions of acres of crops into food for power stations rather than food for hungry human mouths. Already there are food shortage riots in several African countries. Its going to get a whole lot worse. And there will be another more controversial consequence. As a result of the switch to bio-fuels, and reduced access to selective pesticides, it will become impossible to resist the advance of Genetically Modified Crops. Just wait for it. Its going to be the next hot food issue.


Frank H Little said...

I thought that the organic solution was to interplant the carrots with onions, whose scent puts off the carrot fly?

Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled that about the folks who are OK with the creation of new man-animal species through trans-species embryonic stem cells, but are VERY against genetically modified crops.

Glyn Davies said...

frank - or not grow carrots at all. Eat beetroot instead.

anon - good point. What happens is that principled policy positions sometimes have to change as circumstances change. I was against nuclear power, but accept that failure by government to tackle power supply has made it inevitable. Governmnet policy change which is reducing grain supply has almost made GM Crops inevitable. And I have to admit that after much heart searching, I would have voted in favour of admixed human embryos.