Security and trade

Gideon Rachman has an article on this topic in today’s FT, available here.

10 replies on “Security and trade”

I liked the reference to how the increased use of agricultural land for biofuels has pushed up food prices. How this is not a bigger scandal is beyond me. It shows the priorities of the greens anyway.

@ Kevin,

Interesting article, many thanks for highlighting it. I suspect we will be hearing a lot more of these themes in the future. May even be a justification in there to start a new war as well.

I think the article raises several valid points, one of which being why burn fossil fuel to carry food around the world when it can be grown in the country of destination anyway. Obviously Ireland is not going to grow Mango’s but there was a time when north Co. Dublin used to supply a large amount of greens to the city.

Some of the points raised i.e. Malacca Straits are alarmist and exaggerated, while some piracy is experienced there it is small when compared to the volume of traffic. In addition the hijacked ships tend to be small cargo ships, which are small and easily hidden, renamed and easily passed on etc. We have not heard of a BP tanker or Exxon Mobil tanker hijacked recently. In fact not in living memory. I am open to correction here ( another contributor may have more info ) but I believe the success of the Sri Lankan Govt against the Tamil Tigers was down to Chinese guidance. This has led to the Sri Lankan Govt allowing the Chinese to set up a permantent Naval Base in Sri Lanka. Hence China is extending its sphere of influence etc. So the whinging is a bit of a mute point.

But regardless of the worlds Diplomancy and politics if we are serious about preservation of fossil fuels we should be aiming to become more self sufficient, there are now Grow It Yourself programmes being held in various counties around the Country. Kilkenny has a meeting on the 4th Feb in the town hall, encouraging people to grow food on their own land and how to go about it etc.

The world is changing and if we do not change with it we will be left behind. But Irish food produce is one of the best in the world, so we are off to a good start.

“But Irish food produce is one of the best in the world, so we are off to a good start.”

I wish I knew what that meant. What elements of “Irish food produce” are best? Barry’s tea? Yayto crisps? Ardrahan cheese? Commodity beef? And best at what? Best by what criteria? Landowners’ representatives make claims like that but I can’t recall their explaining what they mean.


@ Brian J Goggin,

Irish Lamb, beef, butter are high quality, have great taste etc. This is something to be valued. In addition as Ireland is based on the Western seaboard of Europe and the prevailing wind is south westerly, hence airboune pollution tends to be diluted well before it reaches Ireland. Maybe this adds to our quality?

Ireland may not have vast resources of mineral wealth i.e. oil or gas but we have been traditionally good at agriculture.

While I express dismay in Irelands mismanagement of financial and taxation matters from time to time I know Irish beef tastes great ( when compared to beef produce in other countries ) and from my experience of talking to people I meet from around the world they think Irish beef tastes great too. When I mention Irish beef to a French person, they pause and their mouth waters.

In relation to your comment about Barry’s Tea, I am not aware of any tea being grown in this country. As for Taytos Crisps, well yes they are nice but only as a luxury item, not a requirement for essential living.

Wether Ireland has a economic future for farming remains to be seen. However there is no doubt in my mind Ireland can produce very high quality beef and lamb. I believe this is something to be valued and cherished.

For the record I am not a landowner / farmer / producer etc.

A danger with this problem is that it is a arguably valid reason for reducing trade. Trading allows me to magically transform sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day into far more food than I could grow myself. Given that I have neither the talent nor the inclination to transform my window box into a vegetable plot, I’m a big fan of trade. Unfortunately the likelihood is that people with pre-existing views with regard to protectionism, the environment, and so on, will seize upon this issue to further their own cause, to a greater extent than justified by the problem itself.


“Irish Lamb, beef, butter are high quality, have great taste etc. […] ”

How are these qualities measured and how does Irish produce score against that of other countries, eg Wlesh salt-marsh lamb or the French equivalent? And in beef, are you talking about whatever the standard steak is cut from or about Angus, Hereford or other superior stuff?

And what does it matter if the stuff is being converted into Instant Splodge Freeze-Dried Meals and boil-in-a-bag-stuff-with-elaborate-names for restaurants, with lots of E numbers added?

“However there is no doubt in my mind Ireland can produce very high quality beef and lamb.”

I’m sure that the air-dried, hung-for-three-weeks Hereford steak is a fine thing, but I don’t think that’s the bulk of what goes through the meat factories.


@ Al,

A little soapy, a little soapy…. and just where do you get your taste buds from??????????? hahahaaha

@ John Cowan,

I think one part of this article is about the possibility of one having to grow one’s own vegetables in the future. Not that we should be growing our own vegetables, i.e. this is something that might be forced upon us wheter we like it or not.

Globalisation may be the main way to do business today, but that could change in the next 10 to 20 years. This is a long term strategic issue for Ireland and other countries etc. For example oil is currently around $75 dollars / barrel if it returns to its heady heights of $100+ you might have to get your window box ready to grow some vegetables.

@ Brian J Goggin,

In relation to the quality of Irish food, how is it measured etc etc.

For the end user, i.e. the person who eats it quality can be measured thus,

Taste, texture, quality assurance and price. If the country of origin is well developed with proper controls then the end user has a assurance that the feedstuff which is used to assist the animal in growing is of proper quality as well. Traceability of the meat can also be used to provide evidence to the consumer that the end product is fit for purpose and the producer stands over the product.

Most people who buy, prepare and cook their own meals want a steak (for example) that is free of growth hormones, dioxins and any other nasty chemicals, surprises as I am sure you do. There are strong legal sanctions which can be applied against a producer for the use of Angel Dust etc in this country. The consumer also wants a product which tastes great for what it is supposed to be. And of course if they can get such a product at a very good price then they are even more contented.

How about a whole frozen chicken for example? One would not be happy if the 5Kg chicken one bought was actually 3Kg because it was injected with water to increase the weight prior to purchase. We have controls in this country to prevent this sort of underhand skullduggery etc.

Recently there was a bit of a stink kicked up between the EU and Brazilian Beef exports. This was related to quality assurance issues.

How else would you judge a food product? Would you insist on examining a steak or piece of monkfish under a microscope, examining its cell structure before purchase? Obviously not, nobody goes to those extremes.

In relation to your comment about processed food, well again what is put into the product is what you get out of it. I would not be a great fan about processed food and to be honest I was not really referring to it in my previous comments. However if the regulations which control processed food production in this country are more stringint than other countries then one could say Irish processed food is of a higher quality.

Obviously if you buy processed food there is a difference between fresh food which you purchase and prepare yourself. That is to be expected.

In relation to processed food you may have evidence to the contary, and if you have then fair enough, your point stands.

Things are relative, but the US obsession with security, seeing the relative birth rates of muslim populations, has meant that they chose to create Al Quaeda, not any other organization. The biofuels is again an attempt to squeeze the drier areas of the world, where we find many muslim populations. Oil is present everywhere, look up abiotic oil.

However control of the science on this and other technology has been a part of the armoury for some time. The climate warming business is an example of media control of science, and we know who dominates the media. Abdul Kader Asmal pinned it a decade ago.

Expecting very rough times ahead for many countries. Read up on HAARP and the association of electro-magnetism and earthquakes. Weather control has progressed since the treaty in the 70s. It is not warfare, if it is nature and Chinese over production that causes nature’s imbalance. The Greens often sound like Nazis were said to sound. Greenshirts anyone? Remember that the most vicious part of any population is the 13 to 21 years old part. Schools play a big role in this game.

Paranoid? Really? Have you tried to travel by plane lately? There are more bodies in trains as Madrid showed. But everything is relative ….. Ireland has a massive economic maritime zone. But with the land obsession, I hesitate to point out that per capita, the Irish are almost as rich in land and sea bed as the Aussies are. We could do worse than study our Atlases, if we wish to find out what is going to happen and where in the medium term. Google Earth and see how tortured the land is in many areas of the world. These are also the “unstable” regions, where we can find the SAS troops of the white skinned people …. What colour are bankers again? Moslems do not allow interest to be charged ……. hmmmm?

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