Protecting the environment is clearly a worthwhile enterprise. Even if you don’t subscribe to the theory that our planet is overheating as a result of excessive carbon dioxide production, a more concerted push towards sustainable use of resources surely makes sense to most people. As budgets tighten across Europe and inflation continues to bite, it’s probably not a bad idea for us be more efficient. Over the past few years, the amount of fuel we burn has caused concern among the green lobby. This year, it’s causing strikes among truck drivers. The way we deploy what are ultimately finite resources has got to change. All of a sudden, supposedly hair-brained schemes like sailing vessels across the ocean with kites tied to the front of them don’t seem like such fanciful ideas.
For those looking to science for answers to the major green issues, the major obstacle tends to be that, generally speaking, people nowadays are suspicious of scientists, despite its many past successes. At our recent FRESH Congress, which we review in full on p30-34. Lord Taverne, a UK parliamentarian who is a prominent backer of GM crops, lamented the public’s suspicion of scientific research, something he feels could actually provide answers to the current food crisis.
The reality is that environmentalism isn’t just about saving the planet, it’s also about changing it for the better. For that reason, practical measures put forward by the scientists – GM, pesticides – are often shouted down by the likes of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. The challenge for the scientific community will be to communicate with consumers as effectively as, if not more effectively than, the lobby groups themselves.
Crop protection companies like Monsanto and Syngenta, for example, will have their work cut out over the next few years reassuring retailers that their pesticides continue to be safe, while holding back the tide of legislation that is threatening to wash pesticides away altogether. Consumers are already voting with their feet by buying more and more products that are shown to be environmentally friendly and from sustainable sources. No wonder then that companies like Capespan, Dole, Zespri, Chiquita and others are more eager than ever to put forward evidence of their own pro-active measures in this area.