The hubbub on the ‘Food Regulation Bill’

I have to be honest, this is a new ‘issue’ for me, I only really first heard about it last week so am pretty green on the whole thing. I am going to investigate it over the next few weeks and will come back to you, but these are my initial thoughts and explanations to you about the Food Bill (160-2) 2010.

There is concern amongst some that the implementation of this bill with result in regulators turning up to places like farmers markets to ‘regulate’ what is going on. Those that oppose it say it will “seriously impede initiatives like community gardens, food co-ops, heritage seed banks, farmers markets, bake sales, and roadside fruit & vegetable stalls.” Those that support it say it won’t.

There is a petition here for people to sign who are opposed to the bill, but I gotta say you should only sign it if you have done the work to understand this issue fully and not believed the apparent rhetoric coming from either side of the debate.

Those who are in support of the bill are saying that it will make our food ‘point of sales’ safer and cleaner, companies that are putting millions of dollars into developing new seed technology are also in support of the bill as it gives them more security around their patented product.

I have to say one of the more balanced articles I have read is from then Green Party MP Sue Kedgley where amongst other things Ms. Kedgley addressed the concern of small time vegetable operators being captured in this legislation unwittingly by saying that the authorities that will be responsible for implementing the law “will be able to exempt entire categories of groups, such as those engaged in bartering or selling direct to consumers at Farmers Markets from coverage of the bill, and this is their intention.

Isn’t that the end of the conversation?

Maybe not, and here is why.

I have been listening to the rhetoric for the past week…and if you replaced “private citizens with veggie gardens” with the word “parents” then what you’ve got is the anti-smacking bill ‘debate’ all over again. Where people were concerned about the technical possibility of what the law could do, and ignoring the reality of how it will be implemented.

All those parents getting thrown in jail for touching their children’s shoulders hasn’t happened has it?

Sue Kedgley seems to be saying there are some gaps in this legislation that need to be addressed, and it’s likely they will.

However in saying all this I’ll come back to the point that these are just my first meanderings on this issue and I am happy to hear more from you as to what I’ve missed, and what I have right (if anything).

Comments

  1. Hi Pat – left comment on facebook too.
    Problem is that with government bills it takes a lawyer to understand what the hell they are talking about!!!
    It looks like they have excluded farmers markets from the bill (deleted clause 9b) and also section 94a which provides exemption if trading in food is for personal development purpose.
    Problem is – i could find nothing about allowing seed trading for non-commercial benefit – i.e i have let my lettuce go to seed and give you 50 lettuce seeds to grow – that may become illegal – not too sure…
    You are right though – take time to understand before reacting…it may be good…it may be bad – i’m still a little undecided

  2. I was speaking with people the other week who were genuinely concerned that ‘authority figures’ would be coming down their driveways and checking their back yard veggie patches. I learnt over several years to smell out hysteria, and this just feels a little like that.

    What does John Key care if we give lettuces to our neighbours?

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