UK domestic retail and farming industry bodiesUK domestic retail and farming industry bodies

UK food producers and supermarkets act as a regulatory pinch point for GMO products in the UK food chain. They know how unpopular they are. Tesco, for example, does not use them in its own brand food, requires them to be labelled according to EU directives, and bans them in feed for its organic meat products. The animal feed chain is awash with GMO – you can only avoid it by going organic or vegan.TPP legislation may dictate Japanese government policy, but if pressure is directed at food manufacturers and retailers, any TPP requirements upon the government would not have much effect on retail. News of unlabelled GMO slipped secretly into retail food would spread virally on social media, and sales for the brand or retailer would collapse, as they would no longer be regarded as trustworthy. Retailers and manufacturers would have to police their own purchases of food from abroad and label honestly, as even an accidental purchase of GMO product would cause much damage to their reputation and balance sheet.The danger for Japan is that activism does not come naturally – The passive acceptance of the ‘traditional society’. Hence, the use of so many additives in Japanese processed food, the ‘chemistry set’ approach to novel sweets and food products and the lack of elective dietary labelling.One thing some members of the party of government in Japan are good at, is nationalism, and a ‘Buy Japanese’ campaign would be beneficial to the environment (fewer airmiles) and domestic industry. As long as the quality of domestic produce is high, the margin should still be there. Going head-to-head with the enormous agri-prairies of the US, Australia and, under construction, in China, will be tougher.If it doesn’t already happen by default, it is time to get the supply chain in order, naming the farms where produce was grown or cattle were reared on the labels, and the varieties of fruit and vegetables, not just in shops but in cafes, restaurants and schools too. It would be nice to see the Michelin guide require all featured eateries to impose a complete ban on GMO, or they could not be considered for a listing.If governmental standards are pushed down by the TPP, then it is time for domestic retail and farming industry bodies to set their own, high standards, publicise them, enforce them and replace any lowered government standards. That way the environment can be protected, consumers can be certain of what they are buying – avoiding GMO material, and farmers can be properly valued and compensated for the work they do.We need to end the junk food culture that has seen the % of our incomes that we spend on food, and the time we spend preparing it decline. Neither of those things are good for us. Food matters and you really are what you eat. If you don’t value the quality of your food and eat junk, you aren’t placing a proper value upon your health, the hard graft of the farmers who produce it or upon the food security of your nation.Don’t fear the TPP. Use its arrival as a chance to come out fighting for a more knowledgeable and enlightened public attitude to food production and consumption, through education, industry self-regulation and activism. Reform of the overly rigid Japanese farming sector may even make it easier for the development of farmers’ markets and organic farm-to-consumer sales, boosting the availability of, and interest in heirloom varieties, local varieties and domestic produce.It’s nice to be able to leave stuff to the government to do, like food regulations, but the TPP may be stripping it of some of its powers. Well, if you want something done properly, you often have to do it yourself. Every purchase you make when shopping can be a vote for a healthier way of growing food, a successful and properly paid domestic farming and food industry, and a healthier diet for yourself and your family. And of course, you should never buy or eat anything from someone you can’t trust, so if a food producer, retailer or eaterie owner will not tell you what is in their products, don’t buy them.This stuff matters. Don’t be a drone – be an active consumer and help change the world for the better every time you go shopping or eat out.