9th November 2009
The food industry doesn`t want you to know the truth about what you`re eating………..see it at the Shoreline Cinema, Waikanae.
Food Inc – a film review by MP Sue Kedgley
Food Inc is a powerful and important movie and I wish every New Zealander could see it. – I found it absorbing and compelling.
It reveals the extent to which our food supply is controlled by a handful of corporations –how vested interests lobby and influence politicians; the appalling way animals are treated or, as one reviewer put it, how food corporations have turned meat production into a sadistic exercise in animal torture.
It lifts the lid on the food industry and the lengths to which the industry will go to keep us all in the dark about how our food is really produced.
“The legal challenges were so huge we had to consult a first amendment lawyer throughout the entire filming process.”
You would think if the food industry had nothing to hide, it would be only too happy to show consumers how our food is produced.
But even though consumers are clamouring to know more about the food they buy and how it’s been produced, it`s almost impossible for consumers to work out how most of our food is processed.
When you buy chicken in the supermarket, you have no idea what conditions the chicken has had to endure, whether it’s been fed a continuous diet of antibiotics, or genetically engineered feed, because there’s no requirement for producers to disclose this.
When you buy a packet of biscuits, manufacturers don`t have to disclose on the label if it contains hardened or hydrogenated fat, or genetically engineered ingredients.
And the sad thing is, our government is right behind the food industry.
It is refusing to introduce mandatory country of origin labelling of food –it says there is no need for us to know where our food comes from. I suspect the real reason it opposes country of origin labelling is that it doesn’t want us to know just how much food is imported into New Zealand –$4 billion last year from 145 countries, including countries which have no food safety regulations at all.
Successive governments have refused to introduce labelling for genetically engineered foods, so it’s impossible for consumers to work out whether the food contains genetically engineered ingredients or not. And again I suspect the reason is that the government doesn’t want us to know that it has quietly approved more than 38 genetically engineered commodities for use as ingredients in food, even though these ingredients have never undergone any long term safety testing; and that all these genetically engineered ingredients can be present in our food, without our knowledge or consent.
It refuses to introduce labelling for palm oil because it doesn’t want us to know how much palm oil is being used in our imported food.
And also refuses to introduce mandatory labelling of trans fats, even though trans fats increase our bad cholesterol and our risk of coronary heart disease. I asked the NZ Food Safety Authority why it opposed this the other day and they said it was because naturally occurring trans fats are present in milk, and so they are worried that if it was declared on a label it might put us off our milk.
Earlier this year, following Mike King’s exposee of conditions in pig farms, I asked the Pork Industry Board if I could take a cross party group of MPs to see inside a range of pig farms in New Zealand.
I said I believed New Zealanders had a right to know the conditions pigs are reared in here.
But our request was turned down flat. They said they were worried about swine flu and that we MPs could bring it in.
I have written again to them, requesting a visit now that the threat of swine flu has receded. But I am not holding my breath.
Given the secrecy surrounding how our food is produced, I think we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the people who made this film for sharing some of the secrets the food industry wants to hide from us.
Some people said to me after the film showing –well at least we can relax and say well that’s what happens in America, but it doesn’t happen here.
Alas, this isn’t the case – In many respects the way our food is produced is almost exactly the same.
As you may know the Green party has been campaigning for your right to know what is in the food we eat, for many years.
Similarly we have been campaigning for a decade to ban the sow crate and battery hen cages but have been opposed by both the National and Labour parties. And they still do not agree we have a basic right to know what is in the food we eat.
So I hope after viewing this film you will be fired up, as I was, and as well as voting with your wallet, you will take time to send an email or a letter to your local politicians telling them you want country of origin labelling, you oppose battery hen farms, you oppose intensive agriculture……
As food writer Eric Schlosser comments in the film:
The food industry doesn`t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating because if you knew the truth you might not want to eat it.
Director: Robert Kenner
Starring: Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, Gary Hirshberg, Joel Salatin
Time: 94 minutes
If you can, see the film at the Shoreline Cinema or click on the link above.
What did you think of Food Inc………post your comments below