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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Peace is a tough goal to achieve. When the Syrian National Council lambasted the international community on the 23rd of this month for what it saw as a collective silence on the conflict in their home country the obstacles for the international community to implement it are clear. Certainly the also recently covered We Love You campaign – a movement started by Israeli designer Ronny Edry and his wife now with millions of followers in over 60 countries – indicates that individuals within countries can make human-centred and personal connections which are immensely more powerful than the might of an international security council that includes China, Russia, UK, USA and France. Ultimately though I would also like to make clear that I do realize the complexities in international relations I believe that the ability and potential shown in the We Love You campaign for peace blatantly contrasts against an international community represented by the UN that is severely failing the Syrian people.

It is possible however to put forth a convincing argument that democratic government is required internally in distinct societies to enact law and order and maintain security and equality for all it’s citizens. Where governments have the potential for a negative effect, as the Syrian crisis shows is in world affairs. Leader’s of nations have to inevitably represent an ideology that is representative on a broadly national level or pursue a geopolitical goal/agenda which contrasts with leaders of other nation’s. Inevitably this has potential to cause a degree of conflict and therefore aggression.

The Syrian crisis represents the divisions that often occur in world relations which prevent actions that could lead to peace. Russia is both backing the Assad regime and until recently provided them with military equipment while America and the UK backs the opposition movement. In December of last year it was reported that Russia had even gone to the extent of placing military advisors to operate surface to air missile systems in Syria. This move complicates the crisis further and provides potential for escalation if opposition supporters, principally the USA decide to engage militarily. Meanwhile a coalition of humanitarian organisations have also criticised the international community as a result of their failure to provide urgent support for humanitarian efforts to confront the conflicts tragic impacts on civilians. Eventually the only solution may have to be violent but such division among the international community is only lengthening the suffering of the Syrian people.

Vladimir Putin inspects Mi-24 helicopters

Also relevant within a broader context of this region is the issue of how islamic extremism originated. During the cold war different Arab nationalistic governments were supported by either the USSR or western nations as part of an agenda to exert their influence in the region. This has been cited as one of the reasons for the rise of extremism because these governments did not meet the needs of their people as this influence, to an extent, limited their ability to do so. One culmination of this was the overthrow of The Shah in the Iranian revolution, which has led to a fundamentalist islamic government in power today. Many governments toppled in the recent ‘Arab Spring’ represented the remnants of long existing regimes still supported by the Western nations such as Moubarak in Egypt. What was crucial to the revolutions in many of these countries was social media, often originally created by individual citizen’s in one country, that was used by individuals in the middle-east in their efforts to topple respective governments. This represents a similar link to the Israeli-Loves-Iran campaign and once again the power of individuals.

Another interesting case is that of the fall of the Berlin Wall. One of the key reasons for its fall has been cited by many figures as the non-violent actions of East Germans and dissidents which consequently did not allow the communist authorities to use violent repression against them and therefore leave the wall intact. Even if we look at non-peaceful, violent revolutions their roots often lie in the environment the revolutionaries find themselves in, often a corrupt regime. as in the case of Che Guevara who fought against the US backed Fulgencio Batista having previous experience fighting in his home country of Argentina.

I am going to immediately admit that I regularly buy Tesco value products, including meat. However considering I am a student with a limited amount of disposable money I would argue that this is understandable.

Due to the continuing controversy regarding horse-meat content in value products I believe it is however equally relevant to ask a deeper question of whether we are in danger of ignoring wider and more far-reaching issues regarding our food. As an example, in the context of predicted increasing food shortages in the future, I believe we should consider whether practises like the use of disenewed/reconstituted meat is necessary to avoid waste.

According to Oxfam in 2008 there was unrest in 28 countries regarding food shortages. In these situations people most likely have no choice of food at all due to droughts and other natural disaster’s. Due to the impact of the western worlds meat consumption and demand it may even be necessary to revert to an almost purely vegetarian diet to avoid catastrophe. Furthermore according to the Universal Ecological Fund “with food prices predicted to rise by an annual rate of 10 percent over the next 10 years, the number of hungry people is expected to rise from around 890 million today to around 1.2 billion by 2025”.

Food Shortages

Another environmental impact that our demand for food and which suggest we should adopt a more sustainable approach results from acquiring available land for grazing and producing animal feed. A U.N report from their own internal Food and Agriculture Organization concluded that global livestock produces 18% of its greenhouse emission’s in contrast to the 13% produced by vehicles. A way to limit these impacts is surely to avoid waste and lessen the amount of cattle grazing. Therefore by obtaining as much meat off the carcass and therefore limiting the amount of cattle needed for grazing then we would have a greater possibility of achieving this. As long as the meat is not harmful to our health then surely then reality must dictate that we do not waste it.

What also concerns me is that such a paranoia of lower priced meat may extend into other food products like vegetables that are often only cheaper because of their aesthetic appearance.

I would therefore argue that it is simply being sustainable trying to get as much edible and safe meat off the carcass as possible. If we refuse to do this due to aesthetic demands then we are ignoring practical realities. In this context taking Rajendra Pachauri’s advice to “Give up meat for one day [per week] at least initially, and decrease it from there,” further may be beneficial. Therefore by using reconstituted/disenewed meat that remains 100% safe and edible we are simply extending this sustainable and long-term principle further.

What we must not accept today is the impact of mass manufactured and often lower quality fast food meat on our environment and health. Soy grown for animal feed, including chickens and cattle, has in the past and is possibly still contributing to the destruction of rainforests around the world. This has involved such major fast food companies like KFC and McDonald’s. Yet we must make a distinction between this and obtaining as much edible and safe meat as is possible from carcasses sourced from sustainable and environmentally aware food production that also, unlike fast food doesn’t significantly contribute to unhealthy eating. To do this then we may have to accept that such meat may be cheaper. Now some may say that this is impossible and whilst I admit I am no expert in this field I believe my points are still important.

In conclusion, as long as such an environmental and health impact is avoided then I fail to see the problem with cheaper meat considering the realities we face. So before you consider throwing your horse-meat into the bin or avoiding buying it so that it will be thrown away later by supermarkets, just remember that some people may face a day without being fed one meal. To avoid a worldwide catastrophe we all may have to concede that the world can’t always afford us eating the finest, tastiest and most desirable meat and throwing the leftover scraps away.