Welcome everyone to the 9th Wales Fair Trade fair, and especially to David and Martha for inviting me to come and ‘do the honours’.
For years I have wondered, often aloud ‘what is the reasoning behind unfair trade’. What is the concept? Why do we punish and torture, people, animals and planet. Is it really because only money is god?
We all know about slavery and poverty. We all know too many are living below the bread line both here and abroad. We all know about suffering and malnutrition. Yet we are in a world of plenty. The cake is large, but cut so unfairly.
And there is another unfairness. When we buy potatoes (for example from Egypt ), we steal their water and poison the atmosphere with untold miles of polluting transport. In May last year Britain imported nearly 20,000 tonnes of cauliflower and broccoli, and in April we imported over 50,000 tonnes of potatoes. Our livestock and dairy industry is heavily dependent on imported soybean for animal feed, taking food and water from hungry mouths in India and Africa.
When we buy goods from China and Bangladesh we are in effect outsourcing our own pollution, our own greenhouse gasses and our own toxic chemicals. The bleach from our jeans runs foul down the rivers of China. Yet it is all too easy to wash our hands in our own clean water and turn away from the harm our own consumerism creates.
Of course I know I am preaching to the converted here today, but when we build nuclear we are in effect outsourcing the radioactive waste to the next 10 generations or more. How are they supposed to deal with it? Will they even know what is in those dilapidated yellow canisters in 500 years time?
Too often, it seems, our culture is only interested in ourselves. Jam today. And like nuclear, climate change and poverty will impose huge costs on future generations, impacting heavily on migration, political stability, food and water scarcity. These are costs this generation shows no inclination to fix, for we have talked about poverty, suffering and climate change before.
These things will not change for as long as the god is money.
There is no justification for unfair trade, no justification for climate change, no justification for poverty.
Those of us who can pay a little more to ensure our food, our goods and our services are fairly traded should be happy to. Those of us who know about the suffering of animals in factory farms and testing laboratories, should not turn their face away. It is only we, ourselves, you and me, who can fix the problem.
Whether its people, or animals, or planet in the firing line, of one thing we can be sure: when money is god, ethics and morality become unaffordable.
So please everyone, open your pockets and your hearts today. There are wonderful things here to buy and to do, excellent speakers and fabulous music. Let us for one day rejoice in the bounty of being without harming, loving without hurting, and buying without spoiling.
In the words of Zacharia Tutu, father of Desmond, ‘Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument’. That is what we Greens, and all who share our concerns, must go out and do!