Worldlog Week 06 – 2011

11 February 2011

On Tuesday and Wednesday, representatives of our scientific bureau, the Nicolaas G. Pierson Foundation (NGPF), and I were invited to show the documentaries Meat the Truth and Sea the Truth to the Swedish parliament and various social organizations.

The first showing took place on Tuesday. The auditorium could not accommodate everyone that wanted to see the film and many had to stand. Following the showing, I not only discussed the need to reduce meat production and consumption worldwide because of the enormous adverse effects this is having on the climate but I also answered many questions about the Party for the Animals. It was funny that many parliamentarians wished to demonstrate why there was no need for a Party for the Animals in Sweden in exactly the same way Dutch parliamentarians did following the establishment of the party in this country: arguments that this is the work of social organizations and that it would be better to improve the green credentials of existing parties. I spoke about the huge impact we have had on the existing parties and that they have taken the issues of animals, nature and the environment much more seriously since we have been around. I also said that this is largely because it has become clear to the other parties that voters want a greater focus on animal welfare, nature and the environment; but that they (still) need us, like the hare the in the race against the tortoise, and we are an invaluable source of inspiration to environmental specialists in the other parties since now their fellow party members take them and their underrated portfolio seriously.

It is good to observe that the progressive parties are very aware of the huge negative influence of the cattle-raising industry. Sweden has also launched the Meat Free Monday campaign and in some municipalities it has even become official school policy.

Several meetings were also attended by experts in green taxes, such as the meat tax. Denmark will soon be introducing a levy on dairy products to encourage consumers to reduce their consumption. I was told that the reason for the levy is not so much due to the ‘polluter should pay’ principle as to improve public health as we know consuming an excess of dairy products is harmful. It is important to note here that Denmark has shown that special levies on food are possible within the European Union. Our government insists the opposite is the case. This is a subject I will certainly be writing more about!

In the Lower House we have expressed our concerns at the ease with which municipalities use toxic herbicides. During the debate on the Plant Protection Products Act, Esther Ouwehand submitted a proposal to ban the use of toxins on school grounds, children’s playgrounds, parks and other public green facilities within built-up areas. The Netherlands uses more toxic herbicides than any other country. It is not only the agricultural sector that sprays toxins to its heart’s content, but toxic herbicides are also used within built-up areas, such as on school grounds, schoolyards and children’s playgrounds and by private individuals in their back gardens. Huge amounts of herbicides are used as weed killers. As good alternatives are available, the use of chemical pesticides is completely unnecessary. That is why we want to prohibit the use of toxic pesticides in areas frequented by people, both adults and children.

Last Friday I saw the newspaper polls for the Provincial State elections. We are due to make gains! In the Netherlands, members of the Provincial States determine the composition of the Upper House or Senate and, according to the polls, we will secure two Senate seats. The Party for the Animals currently has 1 senator. It’s going to be an exciting two-and-a-half weeks until the elections!