Saturday, January 29, 2005

Agent Orange documents released...

Our Minister of Defense has released historical documents relating to the (mooted) production and export of Agent Organe to Vietnam for use in the jungle-stripping campaign. Undoubtedly they clear the government of all wrong-doing (or why release them?!) No links are provided through the NZ Herald article so I'm in the process of trying to access them through government sources. Will keep it posted of course...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

What would we know, we only live here...

Attempts to devolve control of local environments to the people who breathe the air and drink the water in the locality continue to trip on assumptions and assertions of superior knowledge. Dig this from Corporate Lap Dog Number 27...

"Local communities generally do not have the expertise on issues about pesticides to make responsible decisions," said Allen James, president of Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, a pesticide-industry lobbying group.

(article in full here)

There's been no more from NZ councils and regional authorities on the little matter of pesticide remnants under our backyards. I posted a wee spiel about this earlier. Personally, I'm more concerned about large trucks careening around my 'hood (as I've posted before, me and my whanau live in an industrial zone. I'm told it's better than the suburbs...).

Will soon be at the New Zealand University Students Association conference in Wellington. I'm this years Post Graduate Officer at Lincoln University. Big conf this year, election year, so we are to be lobbied, I presume, although not wined and dined in the true tradition. That, my poppets, will have to wait for graduation...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Ye olde adoption/diffussion lag...

Of course we still use chemicals banned by our Big Market Brothers. Our place on the classic S-shaped curve (first posited by Gabriel Tarde) for adopting sustainable technologies would be somewhere between late majority and pissant laggards. These things take time - that's a given. However, there is certainly a need to put in place a culture of skepticism towards supporters and distributors of toxic substances (see below on Dow Chemicals) and begin locating and safely disposing of this stuff.

As I'm arguing in my thesis, these artefacts of the crop protection industry can be observed as if they have agency: their presence - even in theory only - provokes predictable reactions from other actors in the network. I use Actor-Network Theory to help frame this thesis, although Kaupapa Maori principles seem to enable the same perspective, perhaps more so as it is a stated intention of our research to empower Maori growers in sustainable horticulture.

On a tangent to this, in 2002 I opposed a resource consent for Turners and Growers to treat fruit and vege in our heighbourhood (okay, we live on the edge of an industrial zone; 'twas all we could afford). They had emitted toxic fumes illegally, in central Christchurch, for seven years (this came out in the hearing). But hey, they'd learnt their lesson (remind me what that was...). Toxicology data for methyl bromide came from the US EPA research (perhaps that should be 'research'...). And later I hear that methyl bromide is to be banned in Stateside!

oh well, as the old people say, 'a te wa' (in time...)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tea Tree Oil and Agent Orange...don't laugh

More info is coming out regarding NZ's role in manufacturing and distributing Agent Orange, a bloody nasty defoliant in a bloody nasty war. It begs the same questions that I raised earlier on pesticides: we have the technology to trace these things to parts per billion, but we don't. In the case of Agent Orange, it seems the records have not been kept that would decide either way, or at least not at our end...

Concerns have also surfaced over the pretty-smelling soaps we wash our bums with. Tea Tree Oil - yet another elixar for the middle-class -
has not proven itself safe. This is, it should be noted, not the same concoction that NZ manufactures, and sells, at a premium (these things only come at a premium).

These examples lend themsleves to Actor-Network Theory (ANT). Let's observe the role that, say, molecules of 2,4,5T have in the network that connects Dow Chemicals in Paritutu, New Plymouth, to Subic Bay, Vietnam, which - as I've posted - includes LINZ reports for the NZ real estate market and inheritable genetic damage to Vietnam vets. For Maori we have to acknowledge our war history which extends from colonisation itself to sincere Peace Operations and covert or 'black' ops in Afghanistan (anyone remember Afghanistan...) We've always fought for the Man (mea culpa: my PhD thesis is an output of a corporate research project).

Of course, given our right and propensity for 'Nested Identities', Pakeha et al. can be forgiven for finding it all rather draining...attempts at colonisation are like that (ask the Vietnamese). But by identifying precisely where best to locate research interests we can see who holds the reins. And the main message is how to make money. Of course. We tried our hand at overthrowing capitalism once before and it didn't work out so good.

A political-economic analysis of Maori horticulture needs to be biopolitical, in the beret-wearing attitude, i.e. to the Nth degree. By that I mean everything from genotypes to pretty pictures. Elizabeth Rata has started pushing out some strong attitude on this, evidently stemming from a whanau insider possie (but not quite. Her point is that it still racist in the vein of the Essentialists discourse on blood quantum). Lets follow the genes so as to follow the money!

We live in interesting times...

Simon Lambert

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