Carola Godman Irvine. Farmer, Campaigner & Columnist. 09-06-21

  • Written by Carola Godman Irvine
  • Posted on Jun 14, 2021
  • Articles

By March 2020 the wildfires in Australia were estimated to have burnt 46 million acres; 72,000 square miles, destroyed 5,900 buildings including 2,779 homes, and killed at least 34 people.

Added to these statistics are the billions of vertebrates, reptiles, endangered species, farm livestock and family pets which were wiped out. The loss of property and economic carnage made those bushfires Australia’s costliest natural disaster. Nearly 80 percent of Australians were affected either directly or indirectly.

Today Australia is experiencing what could be called a ‘natural disaster’ as farmers are struggling to cope with a major ‘mouse plague’ that has left crops destroyed, homes hospitals, schools and business premises infested with hundreds of rodents running amok. Particularly in New South wales the most heavily hit area.

Apparently, a mouse plague of this sort happens about every 10 years. On this occasion the mice are responding to the seasonal conditions. plentiful rainfall after several years of drought and bumper grain crops grown, providing excess food for the mice.

In desperation Australia has ordered a banned poison from India to help tackle the infestation, although the federal regulator is yet to approve its emergency use.  Government officials describe the scale of this threat to the country’s eastern states as “absolutely unprecedented”.

How fortunate we in the UK rarely if ever need to cope with plagues of mice or locusts, and wildfires tend to be confined to moorland and parks, not rampaging through towns, residential hamlets, farmland, and commercial properties. Australia is currently prominent in the news regarding trade deals, I feel we should understand some of the harsh conditions they regularly face.

Demonstrations are planned to raise concerns about these trade deals despite reassurances  that British livestock farmers will not be threatened by Australian meat imports for reasons, including our exceptionally high British Food Standards, and planned carbon taxes on imports of all types of produce, including food.

As a nation are we too ready to complain without taking the trouble to really understand all the facts, often being ed by the nose by those with ulterior motives.

What a surprise! It has now been proved through a study by University College London’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, that Vegan children grow up shorter and have weaker bones than those who eat meat and dairy produce.

The research suggests that with smaller, weaker bones, they are at risk of fractures or osteoporosis in later life.

The study looked at 187 healthy five- to ten-year-olds in Poland – 63 were vegetarians, 52 vegans and 72 omnivores. Those on vegan diets were on average 1 inch shorter and had 4 to 6 per cent lower bone mineral content, as well as being more than three times more likely to be deficient in Vitamin B12 than omnivores.

When numbers of vegans in Britain, avoiding all animal products, has quadrupled in four years to 600,000 amid animal welfare and environmental concerns, it would appear veganism is brewing up colossal health problems in the future of those choosing this route. The cost to the NHS will obviously be significant.

The government is being tasked with tackling the enormous problem of obesity, a pandemic  affecting 50 per cent of the population. Surely health advice should also be made available, targeting parents in particular, and those determined to embrace a diet which the human body was clearly not designed for.

It is worth noting that on a positive note, vegan children had better cardiovascular health, with 25 per cent lower levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and lower levels of body fat.

A compromise is clearly what is needed. It is worth recalling the wise words of the late Dr Jan de Winter, “For a happy and healthy life you must apply moderation to everything, including food, for we are what we eat and do”.

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