Whitehaven hoax

Roy Ramage writes: Re. “One set of rules for the powerful, another for coal activists” (yesterday). As Adam Schwab reports all of these men (almost all are men) still have multiple assets and enjoy the good life while their victims are left with nothing not even the family home.

Even in the exceptional instance of jail, the money is still there post-sentence. This is a savage indictment on ASIC and its gob-smacking incompetence. What courage ASIC has displayed in chasing the lone fraudster who did all Australians a favour by making it abundantly clear that our market remains open to manipulation and we can expect more trouble.

What a stunning coup for ASIC when they hold a trial and punish this renegade. What unbridled contempt Australians will continue to feel for ASIC when this lone fraudster is punished as only the poor can be.

In for the krill

Margot Foster writes: Re.“Licence to krill: when conservationists and corporates cosy up” (yesterday). I was interested in your article about WWF, Blackmores and krill.  It had not crossed my mind that krill could be endangered or threatened given it was a tiny life form widely found in the ocean and more or less readily available for everything that eats it. I was aware that from time to time there was less krill (fewer krill?) in some surveyed places than others but that the variations were not permanent and krill populations rise and fall with conditions, seasons etc.

On reading the article it occurred to me that krill oil is a western version of traditional medicine* which we widely condemn when many of in Asia slaughter elephants and rhinos for their lotions and potions and sharks for their fin soups. Omega 3 might be found in krill turned into consumable oil but it is generally accepted that eating real food itself is better than chugging down stuff containing micro amounts of it.

Krill can’t be bottled and eaten but  there are plenty of substitutes in ordinary vegies, legumes, berries and avocados that can be bought, which are grown as crops and which don’t require further r-pe and pillage of the seas.

WWF ought be further outed for aiding and abetting the vanity of Blackmores consumers, and Blackmores pocket, by endorsing the plundering of krill as a modern form of witchcraftery not much different from the traditional medicine hunters who we criminalise by the CITES convention.

*I am also of the view that the media should ditch the use of the term traditional medicine, which gives it some sort of credence, to something like mumbo jumbo medicine stripping it of any validity.

East Timor farming

Geoff Heard writes: Re. “Seeds of Life or destruction of culture? Hungry East Timor debates” (yesterday). A word about food security in Timor-Leste. I am personally familiar with the Ego Lemos and his version of permaculture and the Seeds of Life program and have the greatest admiration for both.

However, I find Ego’s promotion of local seeds and crops a touch too doctrinaire. The people of every country in the world use food crops native to other countries and that includes Timor-Leste. Yes, retain local seed and practices, but let’s not be blind to the fact that many (even most) of these “local” varieties are rooted in imports at some stage.

There is also the loss of local variety to be considered and the need to rebuild it.

This is the case with sweet potato. One of the big activities of Seeds of Life when I had dealings with it in 2009 was to reintroduce sweet potato into the lowlands agriculture in Timor-Leste (it is still grown widely in the highlands). Over a period of half a century or so, sweet potato was almost entirely displaced by rice growing to the extent — as I saw with my own eyes — that people no longer knew how to cultivate it.

Sweet potato demands about a third less energy input to grow and contains about a third more nutrients than the same weight of rice.

In 2009, SoL was introducing five or six new, heavier bearing varieties of sweet potato which had been bred from Papua New Guinea stock. As it happens, PNG is a classic illustration of what must have been a huge loss of variety in sweet potato in Timor-Leste (to say nothing of SE Asia generally).

PNG is home to about 5000 cultivars of sweet potato, I was told by SoL — a level of variety second only to the Andean home of the beast. Timor-Leste might have half a dozen cultivars left.

Along with rice, another favorite crop in Timor-Leste is cassava.

Cassava is just crap — empty starch. It is the crop you plant to drag the last remnants of usefulness out of your exhausted garden in traditional agriculture. It fills the belly. That’s all. Stunting? Look no further than cassava.

A problem for Timor-Leste is that there is a lot of land that has had the goodness sucked out of it already so cassava is about the only thing it will grow.

A major problem not mentioned is goats. Timor-Leste should organize a mighty goat barbecue fest and kill off every goat in the country. The degree of damage they do to the land is beyond estimation. So much for traditional practices. Geese might be a good replacement.

Rundle v Sheehan

Simon Blackall writes: Re. Media briefs (yesterday). Guy Rundle’s egregious and grandstanding comments on Paul Sheehan article about Alan Jones and the Cronulla riots deserves some comment.

The behaviour of the Lebanese youth on the Cronulla sands was so bad and so provocative that most of the media decided that to describe it in detail would have incited even more of violence from even greater numbers.

For Rundle to play semantics is pathetic. The riot was not started on a “pretext” — it was on facts. I suggest that for a start Guy goes to Cronulla and ask a few locals what it was like. That is what real journalists do.