Here is my feedback concerning the Fauna Baseline Study Report dated 5 September 2022. I noted on page 22 of the report that 206 fauna species were recorded in the Project area, with a total of 15 species of conservation signatures and two species of interest.
Since a total of 362 trees exceeding girths of 1 m in Kranji woodland were cut down in 2020 before NParks could study on further measures to be put in place to safeguard wildlife, public safety, public health and ecosystems, it is possible that the Project area would have been more biodiverse if part of the forest had not been prematurely cleared (which compromised the results of the environmental study report).
As also noted on page 61, though mammal species of conservation significance such as Sunda pangolin and long-tailed macaque were not recorded during the field assessment, they are identified to be likely present at the Project area.
I noted on page 10 of the report that the AFIP is established as a pilot cluster to catalyse innovation in the food- and agri-tech ecosystems, by bringing together high-tech urban indoor farming (agriculture and aquaculture), food production including alternative proteins, and associated research and development (R&D) activities.
Since AFIP developments may include indoor plant factories, aquaculture hatcheries, insect farms and innovative food manufacturing industries, I wonder how much the Project area will be deforested and concretised with cement and asphalt surfaces?
Should we at least retain 30-50% of the existing forest in Kranji woodland as part of nature-based solutions to mitigating climate change, which are highlighted by National University of Singapore (NUS) at the United Nations climate change conference COP27?
Not only a dense forest can cool the urban heat island effect up to 300+ metres, according to a research study, it can support biodiversity to ensure there are pollinators, seed dispersers and decomposers necessary for agriculture, especially permaculture or organic soil farming.
Although indoor high-tech farms may generate higher crop yields, an overreliance on indoor food farms could negatively impact Singapore’s future food security, as such facilities are often energy-intensive, and require imported seeds, substrates and fertilisers which are vulnerable to geopolitical forces, as compared to a regenerative, biodiverse, climate resilient food forest.
Below are my views on other environmental sustainability issues I am concerned with personally for Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE)’s reference.
Increasing local food production to ensure food security should go beyond importing food from more countries and relying on agrotechnology (or high-tech farms).
We should learn from indigenous traditions that rely on Nature-based practices, such as chemical-free soil-based permaculture, aka food forests. This is to ensure that if global supply chains are disrupted or if a global energy crisis occurs, we can still be self-sustainable without relying on food imports or resource-intensive industrial farms. Food forests also serve to protect biodiversity, cool the urban heat island effect, relieve stress and anxiety through forest therapy/bathing, and ensure that we get the necessary nutrition from organic foods instead of mere calories from nutrient-depleted foods, in order to maintain a strong immune system. We can learn from world history that shows how indigenous communities have been successfully surviving and thriving through self-sustaining, regenerative, low-consumption, high-nutrition lifestyles in tropical rainforests (such as the Amazon, Congo Basin and Southeast Asia) over thousands of years, while many empires with advanced technology of their days, such as the Mayan, Babylonian, Greek and Roman empires, could not last more than a few centuries, despite having been prosperous materially and outwardly, because of their self-destructive mindsets and unsustainable lifestyles.
In Singapore’s context, that means having a fusion of traditional soil-based farms (or food forests) and high-tech farms in Lim Chu Kang and Kranji countryside, as well as secondary forests, such as Tengah forest, Bukit Batok nature corridor and Khatib nature corridor, where there are already traditional farms being managed by the older local folks who grew up in kampongs. It would be unwise to force them out of the forests and let their expertise and experience go to waste while they also become prone to senility or dementia from being cooped up in a highly concretised environment. Having said that, I support having more urban farms in housing estates and on multistory carpark rooftops for added food security, although these should not be seen as substitutes for the need to conserve and restore our forests.
(to be continued, as it takes time to research and write based on the latest available information to ensure accuracy and relevance to our national conversation)
I enjoy and resonate with Jon Jandai’s message very much as I also support the carefree, Nature-based way of life. I noted that in his farming village, people work only 2 hours a day, and 2 months a year during the planting season and harvesting season. I totally agree with him that when people have time to be with themselves, they can understand themselves and can see what they want in life, such as happiness, love and enjoyment of life, and they also see a lot of beauty in their life, which they can express in many ways, such as making handicrafts.
I am happy for him to have chosen to go back to the countryside and live life freely like when he was a kid, and it is awesome that his sustainable way of farming rice and more than 15 varieties of vegetables and growing fish in two fish ponds can produce more than enough food to feed his family and to sell, and it took him only 3 months of working 2 hours a day to build an earthly house.
Indeed, such sustainable, nature-based lifestyle gives us a lot of freedom to do what we want in life and time to be with ourselves and connect with ourselves and one another. I like how he learn to spend time to go back to himself during times of sickness and learn to heal his own body the natural way too where possible, such as using water and earth to heal himself.
I agree with him that true civilisation is where food, house, clothes and medicine are easily available and accessible for everyone, as compared to the so-called modern society where these things are hard to get, and it is no surprise that he considers this era the “most uncivilised era on planet earth”. I also like how he chooses to focus on living easy and light, and not be concerned about what others think of him because he considers himself normal and those who follows the system are abnormal.
Interestingly, his video message is similar to a recent video message by Ralph Smart which I listened to yesterday morning, in which he said that creativity comes when we relax and do nothing.
Like Ralph Smart said, “sometimes, doing nothing is the most productive thing in the world.” Yes, I agree that meditation, for example, enables us to become more creative, and I noted that he also shared how simplicity has helped him become his greatest version because the more simple he becomes, the more creative he becomes.
While we enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate, the reality is strikingly different for African children.
In 2001 consumers around the world were outraged to discover that child labor and slavery, trafficking, and other abuses existed on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, a country that produces nearly half the world’s cocoa. An avalanche of negative publicity and consumer demands for answers and solutions soon followed.
Two members of US Congress, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Representative Eliot Engel of New York, tackled the issue by adding a rider to an agricultural bill proposing a federal system to certify and label chocolate products as slave free.
The measure passed the House of Representatives and created a potential disaster for Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Mars, Hershey’s, Nestle, Barry Callebaut, Saf-Cacao and other chocolate manufacturers. To avoid legislation that would have forced chocolate companies to label their products with “no child labor” labels (for which many major chocolate manufacturers wouldn’t qualify), the industry fought back and finally agreed to a voluntary protocol to end abusive and forced child labor on cocoa farms by 2005.
The chocolate industry fought back. Ultimately, a compromise was reached to end child labor on Ivory Coast cocoa farms by 2005. In 2005 the cocoa industry failed to comply with the protocol’s terms, and a new deadline for 2008 was established. In 2008 the terms of the protocol were still not met, and yet another deadline for 2010 was set.
Almost a decade after the chocolate companies, concerned governments and specially foundations spent millions of dollars in an effort to eradicate child labor and trafficking in the international cocoa trade, has anything changed?
Miki Mistrati and U Roberto Romano launch a behind-the-scenes investigation and verify if these allegations of child labor in the chocolate industry are present today.
After watching the documentary “The dark side of chocolate”, I am looking at chocolate in a very different way. It is depressing to see how children were misled or abducted by child labour traffickers to be transported from Mali to Ivory Coast to work as slaves in the cocoa plantations. Since much of the world’s cocoa comes from Ivory Coast which has yet to comply with the protocol’s terms to end child labour on cocoa farms until today, most of the chocolate sold in various countries could well be a result of the ongoing child labour. Choosing not to buy chocolate would be one way to redress or deal with this human injustice, besides spreading awareness. The documentary also shows how capitalism may give rise or support child labour in this lucrative industry since plantation owners have been able to motivate some local people to be involved in child labour trafficking by paying them, which they would most likely otherwise not have done so if not for the inhumane, self-serving monetary system.
A boy must escape a world where the processed food is killing his neighborhood — literally. SHARE to teach kids who is behind it, and how to escape.
visit http://SOSjuice.com/foodfight for School Curriculum + Song Download
Here’s sharing this interesting video I just came across which I found to be extremely well made in terms of music and video production, and it carries a very important message to bring awareness to the general public about the dangers of processed food, GMO food and energy drinks, and the insidious agenda of most processed food and pharmaceutical industries.
“But honestly, “Food Fight” blows this away at every level. It’s a full-on mini-movie with a complete cast and production crew. The music is expertly mixed by J.Bless & Golden Horns. The camerawork, editing and production is top notch. This is an ultra-classy professional production with a message of spiritual transformation for everyone. This is a song of hope, of empowerment and of intimate humanity. This is the kind of message that breaks through the commercial poison that infests our society and dares to tell an anti-commercial message that awakens and enlightens.”
I watched the first hour of the video documentary and then read the rest of the video transcript online – there is much information to be absorbed, though mostly it is a recap of what I have been learning the past year, since similar documentaries and movies such as Zeitgeist and Waking Life have covered part of the message, which revolves around the possible world domination by certain elite members in terms of energy, food supply, education, healthcare and finance. I find the first part of the documentary interesting, such as the director’s wondering whether “the sun gods were not advanced civilizations coming from another part of our galaxy… the ones responsible for sharing the knowledge of this (torus) code” to help humanity tap into the freely available universal clean energy that is non-combustible and non-pollutive, unlike oil and coal.
As for the part about world domination, from my understanding so far, there are probably some truths in how the global elite seeks to gain more power and influence to control the masses. My personal take is that each of us can live with that awareness and question everything, especially the propaganda and mass media, and the power is within us to be the change we want to see in the world. In that sense, I can agree with the documentary’s suggested solution, so to speak, about following our own inner guidance and live “a vibrant and lively inner life, that is truly the navigator of the path”. We can also help create awareness in our own ways and invite others to question the status quo alongside with us, such as in our blogs and so on.
I remember Jesus had said we are in the world but not of the world. World domination has been attempted by one empire after another since ancient history, and the Roman empire was an example of such during the time when Jesus ministered in Israel in the first century AD. Interestingly, Jesus also advocated a nonviolent and peaceful approach in dealing with the “illuminati” of that day and age – the principalities and powers who mainly sought to control the masses through greed and competition. I believe Jesus’ message is just as relevant today, in that even as we are living in a world system that is marked by greed and competition, it is possible for us to build and manifest the kingdom of God on earth through peace and nonviolence. While on the surface, it might appear as if we are “slaves” to the corporate system and the corporations and central banks are the “masters”, but in reality or in the kingdom of God, we are the true masters because “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (according to the sermon on the mount) whereas the ones who seek to build their empire with material wealth and power at the expense of others are the true slaves because they are slaves to their own greed and jealousy and to their addiction to illusory materialism. So regardless of how bleak the world may seem and how much inequality there is in the world, I believe that even as we seek to address the problem of injustice and inequality in our own way, those of us who can experience the kingdom of God on earth are the true “illuminati” who live a peaceful and joyful inner life.
I also like what this message says “Our great mother (Nature/Universe/Earth) does not take sides, she protects the balance of life”. Yes, I believe the universe has its way of balancing and correcting itself. So even though it might seem as if the “global elite” and those who discriminate and oppress others to gain power and influence have the so-called upper hand, it is only a matter of time that they will face the consequences, or they will be transformed and won over by the power of love eventually somehow – the oppressors shall be freed from their own slavery and the oppressed shall be delivered from the oppression because Jesus has exposed the shame and greed at the cross – this will be a win-win situation for both sides because ultimately we are all one, and winning is only possible when all the children of Mother Nature benefit together as one.
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
– George Orwell
11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food — far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production. (Filmed at TEDxNextGenerationAshevillen.)
Birke Baehr wants us to know how our food is made, where it comes from, and what’s in it. At age 11, he’s planning a career as an organic farmer. Full bio »
Hello. My name is Birke Baehr, and I’m 11 years old. I came here today to talk about what’s wrong with our food system. First of all, I would like to say that I’m really amazed at how easily kids are led to believe all the marketing and advertising on TV, at public schools and pretty much everywhere else you look. It seems to me like corporations are always trying to get kids, like me, to get their parents to buy stuff that really isn’t good for us or the planet. Little kids, especially, are attracted by colorful packaging and plastic toys. I must admit, I used to be one of them. I also used to think that all of our food came from these happy, little farms where pigs rolled in mud and cows grazed on grass all day.
What I discovered was this is not true. I began to look into this stuff on the Internet, in books and in documentary films, in my travels with my family. I discovered the dark side of the industrialized food system. First, there’s genetically engineered seeds and organisms.That is when a seed is manipulated in a laboratory to do something not intended by nature — like taking the DNA of a fish and putting it into the DNA of a tomato. Yuck. Don’t get me wrong, I like fish and tomatoes, but this is just creepy. (Laughter) The seeds are then planted, then grown. The food they produce have been proven to cause cancer and other problems in lab animals, and people have been eating food produced this way since the 1990s. And most folks don’t even know they exist. Did you know rats that ate genetically engineered corn had developed signs of liver and kidney toxicity? These include kidney inflammation and lesions and increased kidney weight. Yet almost all the corn we eat has been altered genetically in some way. And let me tell you, corn is in everything. And don’t even get me started on the Confined Animal Feeding Operations called CAFOS.
Conventional farmers use chemical fertilizers made from fossil fuels that they mix with the dirt to make plants grow. They do this because they’ve stripped the soil from all nutrientsfrom growing the same crop over and over again. Next, more harmful chemicals are sprayed on fruits and vegetables, like pesticides and herbicides, to kill weeds and bugs.When it rains, these chemicals seep into the ground, or run off into our waterways,poisoning our water too. Then they irradiate our food, trying to make it last longer, so it can travel thousands of miles from where it’s grown to the supermarkets.
So I ask myself, how can I change? How can I change these things? This is what I found out. I discovered that there’s a movement for a better way. Now a while back, I wanted to be an NFL football player. I decided that I’d rather be an organic farmer instead. (Applause)Thank you. And that way I can have a greater impact on the world. This man, Joel Salatin, they call him a lunatic farmer because he grows against the system. Since I’m home-schooled, I went to go hear him speak one day. This man, this “lunatic farmer,” doesn’t use any pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified seeds. And so for that, he’s called crazy by the system.
I want you to know that we can all make a difference by making different choices, by buying our food directly from local farmers, or our neighbors who we know in real life. Some people say organic or local food is more expensive, but is it really? With all these things I’ve been learning about the food system, it seems to me that we can either pay the farmer,or we can pay the hospital. (Applause) Now I know definitely which one I would choose. I want you to know that there are farms out there — like Bill Keener in Sequatchie Cove Farm in Tennessee — whose cows do eat grass and whose pigs do roll in the mud, just like I thought. Sometimes I go to Bill’s farm and volunteer, so I can see up close and personalwhere the meat I eat comes from. I want you to know that I believe kids will eat fresh vegetables and good food if they know more about it and where it really comes from. I want you to know that there are farmers’ markets in every community popping up. I want you to know that me, my brother and sister actually like eating baked kale chips. I try to share this everywhere I go.
Not too long ago, my uncle said that he offered my six-year-old cousin cereal. He asked him if he wanted organic Toasted O’s or the sugarcoated flakes — you know, the one with the big striped cartoon character on the front. My little cousin told his dad that he would rather have the organic Toasted O’s cereal because Birke said he shouldn’t eat sparkly cereal. And that, my friends, is how we can make a difference one kid at a time.
So next time you’re at the grocery store, think local, choose organic, know your farmer and know your food. Thank you.
Below is a list of “five myths about genetically modified food” by Greenpeace.
If you live in the United States of America (USA) and you would like to order online organic produce to be delivered to your doorsteps, you may like to visit this website called Full Circle. You will not only be getting groceries that are organic, local, sustainable, green, and in season, you will also be supporting small business.
According to Wikipedia, genetically modified foods (GM foods, or biotech foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), such as genetically modified crops or genetically modified fish. GMOs have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques.
This website summarises the benefits and controversies of GM products.
About the need to implement GMO labelling of GM foods
Recently, I came across this newspaper article about food labelling in supermarkets in Singapore to encourage people to buy healthier food. While that is good, I realise there is no GMO labelling implemented yet. So I decided to email the following letter to the newspaper to highlight the issue. I had also hoped that the Proposition 37 on GMO labelling of foods in California would come into fruition on 6 November 2012, as Singapore and other countries tend to follow America’s lead in many areas of life.
I refer to the article “Labels in supermarkets to guide the Healthy Shopper” published in The Sunday Times on 28 October 2012. While it is good to know that food labelling will be carried out in supermarkets to identify the healthier foods to encourage consumers to buy more of them, there is no GMO labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods implemented in Singapore yet. This is a worrying trend because more and more studies have shown that GM foods are potentially dangerous to human health.
For example, the Health Ranger of NaturalNews Network, a non-profit collection of public education websites, explained in his video entitled “How GMO foods alter organ function and pose a very real health threat to humans” that cell research shows that the microRNA in GM foods may alter organ functions in the human body by changing the biological information and suppressing natural functions in vital organs, which may in the long run cause cancer tumours, infertility and so on. It is useful then for more people to be aware of the dangers of eating GM foods.
According to the Institute of Responsible Technology, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) reported that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food”, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM has also asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.
Besides, we all have the right as consumers to know what is in our food. According to LabelGmos.org, 50 countries with over 40% of the world’s population already label genetically engineered foods, including China and the entire European Union. Even in America, California is looking set to become the first US state to enforce labelling of GM foods, in a vote on 6 November 2012.
It is therefore high time for Singapore to follow suit to give consumers the right to know what is in their food. As noted by our Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has shown “our Government’s seriousness in creating a healthy nation”, so I see no reason that the food labelling programme would stop at identifying healthier foods and exclude GMO labelling. I strongly urge the relevant authorities to seriously consider implementing GMO labelling in Singapore for our health’s sake.
My letter was published on 4 November 2012 in The Sunday Times entitled “Label genetically modified food too”, which has been edited and truncated, probably for brevity.
As of today, it has been reported that the Proposition 37 to label GMO foods in California has failed, since the number of people who voted “No” had slightly outnumbered those who voted “Yes” on 6 November 2012. Nevertheless, there is still hope since at least the campaign has raised awareness among more people about the GMO issue.
In many ways, the YES on 37 campaign was a huge victory for awareness. The campaign organized over 10,000 volunteers in California alone and succeeded in achieving a massive social media presence.
The YES on 37 campaign also forced Monsanto and the biotech giants to spend $45 million to defeat the measure. That’s a record expenditure by the world’s largest toxic pesticide companies to try to prevent consumers from knowing what they’re buying. Remember: GMOs are the only products that consumers accidentally purchase without knowing what they’re buying.
What’s clear from all this is that GMO labeling has a foothold in the minds of American consumers, and this effort to label GMOs is going to be repeated state after state, year after year, until victory is achieved.
Is our Planet overcrowded? Are we heading for massive extinction? How can Mother Earth sustain this growth?
I think the above questions echo the concerns of many people about the growing world population in view of the apparent limited supply of resources and hunger in many regions.
My understanding is that human ingenuity and technology have enabled people to harness energy resources, and grow more foods, and are capable of solving hunger problems. I think one area of challenge is in the distribution of food to those areas that need it the most.
According to this article “We already grow enough food for 10 billion people – and still can’t end hunger”:
“Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. For the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth. The world already produces more than 1 ½ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s enough to feed 10 billion people, the population peak we expect by 2050. But the people making less than $2 a day — most of whom are resource-poor farmers cultivating unviably small plots of land — can’t afford to buy this food.
To end hunger we must end poverty and inequality. For this challenge, agroecological approaches and structural reforms that ensure that resource-poor farmers have the land and resources they need for sustainable livelihoods are the best way forward.”
I agree that sustainable farming methods (and reforms in food distribution) are necessary steps to address world hunger, as long as it does not involve any cultivation of GM food (despite its promise of higher crop yields), due to its adverse effects of human health and the environment.
Since different countries experience different rates of population growth, one solution that works for one country may not work as well for another. For example, many developed countries are experiencing declining population growth and are hoping to increase population through encouraging childbirth and immigration to maintain the replacement rate of population and economic growth (assuming they still depend on the current system), Like what this article “U.N. Raises “Low” Population Projection for 2050” says:
“In the near future, however, families in wealthier countries may decide to prolong or reconsider having children due to the economic recession. “The little bit of an increase we’ve seen may peter out,” said Carl Haub, senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau.
But Haub said the observed increases in industrialized-world fertility rates will have a relatively minor effect overall – populations are expected to decline over time if average fertility rates remain below 2.1, which demographers consider the stabilization rate, absent net migration.
“Developed countries have largely painted themselves into a corner now,” Haub said, referring to the likelihood that their low fertility will result in smaller populations in the years ahead. “All the growth will come from developing countries.”
So, many developing countries (in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America) are still experiencing rapid population growth and need to implement family planning measures through education and policies to discourage families from having too many children.
According to this article “World population by country: UN guesses the shape of the world by 2100”:
“The big increases are coming from countries with high fertility rates – the high-fertility countries identified by the UN comprise of 39 countries in Africa, nine in Asia, six in Oceania and four in Latin America.”
On one hand, high fertility rates can be seen as a positive thing as it means better healthcare and higher standard of living has resulted in low infant mortality rate. Besides, the farming culture in developing countries usually encourages having 3 or more children to help out in farms. On the other hand, the challenge is in ensuring enough resources to support the growing population in these countries.
Usually, due to rural-urban migration in developing countries, when more people adopt city life in big cities, they will naturally tend to have smaller families, as they don’t need many helping hands since they no longer live in farms, and people living in urban areas are usually too busy with work and family life to have many kids too. So, besides education on family planning, sometimes natural forces play a part in the human evolutionary process in rural-urban migration, that result in families naturally making decisions to have fewer children due to various constraints presenting themselves over time.