Wed, May 20, 2015 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

TPP a Trojan horse

Finally, an article depicting the true face of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has appeared in a Taiwanese newspaper.

For at least a year, I have been reading exhortations from Taiwanese media outlets and politicians that the nation must join the TPP, with no reports of the truth about the proposed deal. So the inclusion in the Taipei Times of Joseph Stiglitz’s article on the TPP (“The Trans-Pacific Partnership: the secret corporate takeover,” May 18, page 9) — from an economist who knows just what this Trojan-horse agreement entails — offers a much-needed service for Taiwan and Taiwanese.

For those too busy or disinterested to read the full article, the following excerpt is enough to provide all the information one needs to see through this corporate deception:

“The real intent of these provisions is to impede health, environmental, safety and, yes, even financial regulations meant to protect the US economy and citizens. Companies can sue governments for full compensation for any reduction in their future expected profits resulting from regulatory changes.”

Thank you Taipei Times for finally providing Taiwanese what they need to know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

David Martelli

Taitung County

Compost key to future

Kengchi Goah (吳耿志) is perfectly right in his evaluation of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and of higher education in Taiwan (“Shifting to value food production,” May 19, page 8).

I brought computer technology to Taiwan with Hewlett-Packard in 1969 and studied physics at National Taiwan University. My son works at TSMC.

The Japanese saw the potential of Taiwan and wanted to turn it into the breadbasket of Japan. We should go back to this view and make the agricultural field the economy’s main driver.

However, using TSMC-style manufacturing for agriculture as Goah suggests is misguided. We are slowly waking up to the impact of factory farms raising cows, pigs and chickens. Human health pays the price. The same goes for fruit and vegetables. Their health and nutritional content depend on the sun and the natural contribution of good clay soils full of nutrients, most of them unknown to those with doctorates. No LED or chemical fertilizers can get close.

There is a much easier way to bring about an agricultural revolution. Taiwanese produce more than 16,000 tonnes of table scraps a day, most of it burned by huge incinerators producing serious pollution. By composting all of it — which is easy if given the political will — the way I do on my farm at a rate of 2 tonnes a day, we would produce enough of the most nutrient-rich, natural compost to fertilize 10,000 hectares of farmland a year.

Fifty-six percent of farmers in Taiwan try to survive on a monthly income of NT$20,000 per family on small farms totaling 22 percent of all farmland. Meanwhile, the younger generation leaves for the cities and farming is abandoned. This is a major headache for the Ministry of Agriculture.

Take all the potential compost generated by food waste and give it to these small farmers, and their income will jump to NT$200,000 a month, 10 times their actual income. The younger generation will be drawn to the countryside, where the economy lies, and within 60 years, the whole of Taiwan will have an agriculture free of chemical fertilizers and pesticide, as well as a healthy population.

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