Worldlog Week 12 – 2013

18 Μαρτίου 2013

In the debate on large-scale food fraud, I let the government know in no uncertain terms that it needs to strongly police and enforce food regulations. We also need to get rid of the pressure to produce ever cheaper food. Fortunately, several parties and the State Secretary of Economic Affairs share this opinion.

The State Secretary wants the meat industry to pay for government inspection and enforcement and she also wants more government inspections. This sounds hopeful! The butchers will no longer be allowed to set the standard! I feel good about the measures to come and assume the cabinet will work hard to make this policy a reality. It will ensure food fraudsters will not get a look in.

Because, have you noticed the number of food scandals recently? EHEC, mad cow disease, and salmonella salmon are just a few examples. We’ve had food scandals these last 25 years, and they show the structural issues with our food and meat industries. They’re linked to the push to produce food as cheaply as possible. This leads to opportunistic behaviour. Traders want to purchase meat as cheap as they can and look for the cheapest bidder, often at great distance and without knowing who they are.

While the parties in food industry have been searching for the cheapest products for years, the government’s policy has always focused on self-regulation. But self-regulation doesn’t work in a sector that won’t look at itself in the mirror. We need change now! The government needs to take over primary inspection duties and to make sure that fraudulent practices are detected and dealt with. This is possible with additional inspectors, better enforcement and more severe punishments. Self-regulation must definitively belong to the past.

Great news for the polar bear! The government needs to work in Europe for a European import and trade back on polar bear products. This, as a result of our motions, was supported by the entire house. Last week the CITES summit reached consensus on a proposal by the United States to give the polar bear the very highest protection rating. The European Union member states then jointly decided not to support the proposal. The European Union, at 65%, imports the most polar bear products.

How shameful that the European Union blocked an international import and trade ban. Thanks to the accepted motion, the Netherlands must now pressure the European Union to set up a European import and trade ban on polar bear products as quickly as possible.

More good news this week! The government needs to combat energy wastage by cutting back on the number of lit empty office and shopping spaces at night. France will soon make it compulsory for shops and offices to shut off the lights after the last employee has gone home. We want the Netherlands to follow this good example and introduce a similar obligation.

Greetings! Marianne