We all need a sanity check at time. There has been a need to regard what we are offered and why certain people seem to try to start to regard fear and misinformation to set people towards the need of greed of some. This is the feeling I get when I look at ‘Brexit: ‘Real risk’ UK could run out of some foods after EU exit, government warned‘ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-food-supplies-shortage-warning-policy-failure-supermarkets-imports-eu-a7844751.html), it starts with the subtitle that gives us “Theresa May accused of ‘serious policy failing on an unprecedented scale’ by academics“. So what matter have they been raiding? Consider the EU nations and how things changed in the late 90’s. Now consider the foods and lives we had in for example the 60’s. We had no shortage of food, we could buy foods and outside of the UK, it was equally easy to buy a bottle of Worcester Lee & Perrins sauce. Some articles were not available (like Tripe), mainly because of the import laws already in place (and we all so loved to eat that in the first place). It was easy to get the Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas plum pudding. The entire exercise to spread fear and misinformation is actually getting to me. I am so sick on the implied creation of intentional chaos. So when you read: “A report from food policy specialists has warned the forthcoming break from Europe will lead to “chaos” unless ministers establish a clear plan on how a new food system will operate“. This reads like it will be the point that some food policy specialists will soon be without a job. Consider the need for sales and exports. Do you think that countries like the Netherlands, Belgium or even France have no export policies in play? These policies have existed for decades. So after Brexit there will be French cheeses and wines, there will be Belgium chocolates and Shrimps and there will be fresh vegetables from the Netherlands. The EU has had close to no influence; it merely seemed to digress towards red tape for the hidden unmentioned need of profitability for large corporations. There will of course be questions in some situations, yet do you think that the exporting corporations will not be ready for that? So when you read ‘without provisions in place‘, we see levels of fear mongering from people who are pushed by other people who are shy of the limelight, because we really have no need for those players fattening the invoices wherever they can, the EU gravy train is coming to a partial end and some politicians are getting nervous. All that easy income falling away, all those unwanted costs added to the prices of what people require to import. Yet the dangers of the single market are often ignored. In a single market may struggle to survive against their more efficient peers, yet how do we see places like ‘Walmart’ as an efficient peer? In that light we see that those with the approach of what should be regarded as ‘exploitative’ and being way too large, having the option to pressure their costs and buying at near 0% margin for the manufacturer has no benefit to competition, it merely makes the owners of Walmart rich fast, whilst there is no place for any number two players. That is the opposite side in all this, a side that the EU has been intentionally silent on for way too long.
The article refers to a paper which can be found (at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/newsandevents/2017/publications/food-brexit), the added PDF in there gives us “Set new clear targets for UK food security (food supply, quality, health and consumption) which go beyond mere quantity of supply by addressing ecosystems and social systems resilience“, this sounds important, yet in all this my question towards Tim Lang, Erik Millstone & Terry Marsden becomes ‘When was the last time you ate an equine burger?‘, the UK was part of this so called EU food security, and as such the professors from the Universities of Cardiff, London and Sussex might have forgotten about that 2013 events, where Tesco had 27 beef burger products laced with horses and pigs.
Also consider the quote ““In the EU, UK consumers and public health have benefited from EU-wide safety standards, without which there will be a risk of the UK having less safe and nutritious products“, we could argue that with 100,000 angioplasty events per year, that issue is a non-issue at present already, ye as it is hard to get any clear EU statistics (read: could not get any reliable figures) there is no quality view to get at present. In all this, when I see certain events mentioned, it is almost like there is a hidden P&G (read: Proctor & Gamble) logo behind all this. That is a purely personal and speculative view! In addition, as I write in opposition of certain points, this is an academic paper, it gives us clear sources and we can disagree with the view of these three professors, there is the issue that their view remains a valid view.
This gets us to two parts that mention the issues that we are going towards, in my view it is a view that should have been adjusted for at least 5 years ago, Brexit might be an element, but it is not the cause and after Brexit these systems have never been adjusted, there is merely the identification that the government in general should have started to make adjustments a long time ago. The quotes “The current food policy community is fragmented and divided. There is an urgent need for a more collaborative policy platform to be created involving all the main players. If the government fails to do this, others will need to take the initiative“, as well as “Meanwhile the NHS is becoming increasingly bankrupted, not least because of the growth of an aging population suffering a dietary-health epidemic; the critical significance of the food system needs highlighting in these debates“, it is interesting that I recognised this several day ago as a hindering issue for the NHS.
There is one part that the paper definitely gets right (read: it actually gets a lot more right). It is seen on page 14 with “These aspirations and policy principles should be incorporated in the new food legislation, which Food Brexit will entail. An estimated 4,000+ pieces of regulation and law are EU based“, this is one side that truly matters. The question becomes: ‘Is it merely ‘new legislation‘ or comparing the EU legislation against that legislation that was in play?’ and as such decide on the path of adjusting the original legislation, or create new legislation. This is something that should have been discussed in the House of Lords at the very least. It seems that not only it has not happened; there is no indication at present that this will happen any day soon at present, which is odd to say the least, it is not like the entire Brexit issue dropped out of the sky last night.
Still, even as the paper is valid and valuable, it is my view that the Independent is too much about fear mongering. When we see “Even a “soft” departure from Europe, in which the UK will remain in the single market or customs union, could badly affect the food and farming industries, they add“, so even if the UK remains in a single market, there are still dangers? If that is so, what the bloody use is a single market?
Another issue (as I personally see it) is seen in “The report, which is based on more than 200 sources, continues: “Prices, which are already rising and likely to rise more, will become more volatile, especially harming poor consumers.”“, in the first, prices have always been rising and that is not likely to ever change. The cost of living has been under attack in the UK for the better part of a decade. If you are not a well off banker, or some hedge funds investor, it is extremely likely that your quality of life has been stagnant. It does not matter whether you are a cashier, a barrister or a doctor; your quality of life has been declining for the longest time. It is merely the amount of quality of life lost that differs between the three groups. In the second, volatility has been equally an issue for the longest time. If that was not the case, the mere need for equine burger was never an issue. The EU at large has been under ‘profit scrutiny‘, which just emphasises the need for better food security all over Europe, a factor the EU failed since decently before 2013. In all this another article requires the limelight. With “It cites recent research by the British Retail Consortium that the absence of a trade deal could push the price of imported food up by 22%“, the question becomes, what (and where) are these numbers based on? The article (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/christmas-dinner-price-rises-by-14-per-cent-a7453591.html), is as speculative as the evidence that the photographed Turkey tasted nice. We just do not know. With “In October, the British Retail Consortium warned shoppers could face higher prices if the Government failed to strike the right Brexit deal with the EU” as well as “the UK could be forced to use World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which could cause the price of meat to rise by as much as 27 per cent“. In these two quotes the operative word is ‘COULD‘, none can give any evidence on the amount it raises (or if it rises at all); it is from my point of view with the emphasis of ‘merely fear mongering’. In the end, none of them acknowledge that the UK is a willing market with 68 million consumers. Show me one salesperson who would willingly walk away from such a large group of consumers and I will introduce you to a liar. All the fear mongering we see, and in the end we see a collection of large corporations like Mars and Coca-Cola that will accept the impact on their margins as they are trying to avoid a total loss of bonuses for a much longer period of time.
I will add the paper at the end in this article, because whether I agree or not to some extent, it is a good and proper academic piece and even as we might consider elements in different light, the paper does show clear indications that there are issues that require addressing and there are also issues that should have started to be addressed several years ago. There is a policy failure to some extend in some way and in a much larger way in other views of focus. The academic paper is not in question; the method of fear mongering that the Independent is playing with is a much larger issue that should be taken a look at.
So as the Independent is fear mongering food issues and the Guardian tells us ‘Britain ‘will be less safe’ without access to EU crime databases – peers‘, yet because before the Schengen mess there was no Interpol or information available, we need to realise that some things will require adjustment, that was never ever in question and in all this the events are not due for 20 months. Now, we can all agree that things need doing, yet has anyone considered that some of these current systems will be obsolete before the 20 months deadline (read: some already are to some degree)? The EU has no firm handle on data automation (as per collecting), or the impact that 5G will give to the data stream, none of the systems will be ready before the change and some will not even be ready then. It was only Yesterday when I found it essential to message Ben Wallace MP that his ‘Accelerator Open Call for Innovation‘ is missing an encryption topic in the data challenge. (at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-and-security-accelerator-enduring-challenge/accelerator-enduring-challenge), in this age of Ransomware and security flaws, the entire encryption challenge will be a huge one, as more cloud data is no longer safe in either data in transit or at rest, any security assessment system would require new levels of encryption. This is not merely my view, when we look at the works otien Lenstra, a cryptology professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, says the distributed computation project, conducted over 11 months, achieved the equivalent in difficulty of cracking a 700-bit RSA encryption key, so it doesn’t mean transactions are at risk and his 2007 article passed the deadline 5 years ago. Even now the larger military contractors like Thales are seeing Big-Data Encryption as one of today’s challenges, so how important would it be in let’s say 3-4 years?
So as we see food fears and so called ‘security‘ data issues, we see that some of the players haven’t even considered including the elements of encryption in some areas. The reason for that view is that encryption is not merely about adding some code, or encoding all data, it is a system of checks and balances, where recovery of corrupted data becomes increasingly important. For those not in the know (which is very valid) there was a virus decades ago called the DBase-virus, it came from the 90’s and decided to corrupt all the data in a DBase database. The clever part was that as long as the virus was there, the user did not know, the moment it was cleaned out, all the data was instantly corrupt, the virus was a cypher and decipher part. In these days of Ransomware, such systems require additional elements and they end up being part of the core, not merely an added element in the core, so when the paper gave me “data – cyber, information, big data, management and processing, sense making, visualisation, delivery, interoperability” as an element, whilst encryption was not part of it, whilst there were other topics like mobility and situational awareness (sensors and surveillance). It seemed to me that the crypto element was not just important, it will be vital and in that field a little innovation goes a very long way. Yet beyond all that, with larger computers and ever-growing large hi speed mobility, the need and application of encryption equally changes, so when we see the need for some European adjustment, we need to realise that not merely the policies are overdue plenty of revisions, in all this, Brexit or not, with the near daily events of data losses, we need to seriously contain certain dangers
So how of topic did I go?
From merely the food part quite a bit (seemingly), yet in all this, the policies and the data issues are connected. If we accept that some of these policies are all depending on the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), we see that the objectives, indicators of progress, the achievements and action points are also data driven (at https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Departmental-overview-2015-16-Department-Environment-Food-and-Rural-Affairs.pdf), now data will be at the centre of pretty much every part of life, yet from the paper that the three food boffins bring us (namely Lang, Millstone & Marsden), it will not merely a more dire need in reactive, there is an increasing view that the view needs to be transposed towards a proactive situation. The elements in that paper on Spending reduction (page 10) and workforce capability (page 13) imply that these two will impact the entire CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) in several ways, so to not go towards the fear mongering as the Independent implied with its 27% price rise, a proactive system that could counter or at least limit these events to a certain degree. The need has always been there, but the EU has gravy train driven red tape factory (as I personally see it) and as such too little forward momentum is seen and the UK parliament has been forever waiting for the EU to start something so they could be seen as a limited forward momentum party as well. So now is the perfect time to get something actual in place, but to rely on data that could be ‘mismanaged‘ by those trying to thwart the machine requires a much better digital transformation plan as well as a much better digital security and footprint approach, one that has clear boundaries of non-repudiation. Many of these elements either not mentioned, or ignored.
And here is the great part, I am not fear mongering, I am merely saying that things require attention and doing and there are still 20 months, yet doing something immediate is equally dangerous as 5G will impact on a global scale, so having proper preparations and having a system that is not set in stone, but one with certain levels of flexibility and options of evolution is much more important, so that we avoid having a massive invoice that requires paying it twice (or even thrice).
If there is one element of the entire Food report that I had an issue with than it must be ‘12. Keeping a close eye on our EU neighbours: it takes (at least) two to tango‘, there is nothing wrong with what is written, yet what I voiced earlier, the need to sell to the UK is partially ignored and the second partner in that tango is the provider of goods. The 5 scenarios read perfectly fine, yet they are all so based on the premise of the UK being the needy one, we forget that there are 27 nations all vying to get a leg up on the option to sell to 68 million consumers, it seems that the part is not that emphasised. In the end there needs to be a level of balance, yet I feel certain that once Poland is playing hard to get with the UK, I feel certain that Spain will jump up at the chance to get this market. It will not always be a balanced battle, but the UK has options and the newspapers at large have been overly silent on this part, which is why I am upset with the entire fear mongering thing. There was never an issue with being alert, but the papers at large have been completely negative again and again, focussing on the negative ‘could’ and ignoring the positive possibilities. In all this, I still personally believe that the largest players are all about the Status Quo as they have it and in that the one part that Nigel Farage got right, if this gives an option for the local smaller players to get an actual slice of the exploited market we might actually get some level of economy growing and in that, at the end the United Kingdom becomes an economic growth winner.
I think it is a mere sanity check that we try to get a level of alignment on the jobs that need to get going on and as such get a grip of what becomes a possibility, in that the ‘A Food Brexit: time to get real‘ report gives us a handle on what needs to be realised, but at times, although the report gives a really good view, as stated, my issue remains to some degree too much about the page 15 mention of; “UK ministers have failed to explain from where they expect the UK to import its food“, whilst in equality, the optional question “Which quality provider of foods is ready and willing to export to the UK?”
In a world where export is essential to any government, is it not interesting that we do not see the latter version in the media, in a situation that amounts to pretty much the exact same premise?
A Food Brexit: time to get real
Departmental Overview 2015-16