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We need 'food activists'

In "'Organic food' can still bedevil your health", (Opinion, March 2), Anchalee Kongrut writes about the annoying dilemmas consumers of organic food face.

For many years we have promoted "organic food for all". In fact the costs of organic food are less than chemically treated products. But there are various reasons why this does not show up in the actual price. The government's philosophy is that complying with the standards of Good Agriculture Practices or GAP (of the Food and Agricultural Organisation) is sufficient. That means that farmers can use chemicals but have to stop doing it three weeks before the harvest. Most farmers even don't do that.

The government standards for organic certification are close to GAP. But they do not meet the standards of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) accredited Organic Agriculture Certification Thailand and the Asian certification alliance. IFOAM is a private, membership-based organisation.

To accommodate small-scale farmers, IFOAM introduced Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) promoting peer-reviewed farms without (costly) external inspectors. But PGS works best with time-intensive consumer participation. In addition, even though maintaining buffer zones is one of the IFOAM organic practices, chemical farmers tend to contaminate their organic neighbours by wind or shared water. Extra natural wind shields and water purification all add up to the costs of the organic farm products.

Ironically, the expenses of environmental degradation, the increasing burden on our public health systems of food related non-communicable diseases and disturbance of our immune systems by over-medication of industrially raised animals, fossil-fuel transport needed for chemical food and subsidies for mainstream scientific research, all remain hidden and keep conventional food prices far below the real civic costs. The only way to turn this tide is to act not only as mindful consumers, or pay for your convenience; we have to become "food activists".

Wallapa and Hans

Threat to their power

Re: "Majority want election date to be clearly set: Poll" (Online, March 4).

Who would not want a clear commitment to an election date, preferably earlier rather than later? Who, indeed, would not want an election or a freely elected government?

Most obviously, those who oppose the categorical moral imperative underlying democracy that the people of the Thai nation, as much as the people of any other nation, have the right to determine the form of their government and of their society. These regressives do not want elections presumably because they fear, with good reason, that such respect for good morals poses a threat to their traditionally undeserved power, property and prestige.

Felix Qui

Time to act on carnage

Re: "Aim before you shoot mouth off", (PostBag, March 4).

Colin Carr corrects the numbers of annual deaths of 26,000 people from Thailand's roads and 33,000 deaths of the United States from gunshots.

But, if relative to the population of 68 million in Thailand and 326 million in the US, for every 10,000 people 3.8 people died in Thailand and 1.0 in the the US. It is painful to read news with the headline that "Thailand tops road death ranking list".

We all look forward to the long Songkran of five days but unfortunately there is a black spot of fear -- how many will die during that festive period? Have the authorities done enough to reduce the numbers? Most of them innately believe that it is fate and quote the Buddhist principle that we all in the end have to die.

Songdej Praditsmanont

What are the real sins?

If the prime minister ventured into any of Thailand's so called "entertainment" venues, he might be gratified to discover that Thailand's reputation as the sex capital of the world is quite undeserved.

However, its reputation as a tourist rip-off, a guardian of corruption, censorship, illegitimate government and other ills, is sadly, indisputable.

Clive Solomon

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