Sunday, 28 December 2008

Breaking News

Post number 39

The whole of the IYNF's programme of work by the FAO relies on the assumption that China does not produce any wool at all. This is false, and the year ahead needs to be planned afresh with revised presentations, seminars and all the rest of it.

Our self-dependent comments on FAO’s notes on natural fibres issued for 2009 International Year of Natural Fibres in www.fao.org/es/esc/en/15/320/highlight_322.html:

We emphasise that views expressed are ours alone and do not reflect opinions of others. Our blog http://seachangeindrycleaning.blogspot.com that covers related subjects widely is written in a style and language that every one is intended to benefit from and gain knowledge not reported elsewhere. We address the public at large, the business world, investors, industrialists, environmental workers, academics, historians, and almost any one else one can think of. We offer these explanations so that our new readers in FAO and the UN General Assembly do not build impressions that we veer from subject to subject wildly or that we do not have pre determined goals to achieve.

In our views, the world economic downturn in general and that of the UK in particular have major implications on the whole philosophy, design and implementation of the FAO’s programme of work and detailed seminars and presentations planned for execution in venues around the world. 2009 was recommended in 2006 by the UN General Assembly and a resolution passed by them for the FAO to implement.

Our exhaustive self-dependent work spanning more than 20 years has not been taken seriously by anyone involved in promoting natural fibres. This was chiefly due to the failure of dry cleaning in the advanced world to provide reliable after-care for the cleaning of wool mainly, but other natural fibres too, e.g. silk and linen. We have removed the endemic bottle necks that have crippled the use of wool in the UK and elsewhere for making garments.

We will use topics from the FAO document as our ‘road map’ in the proceeding posts in the blog and announce factors that will and should hugely, even adversely affect the programmes scheduled by the FAO during 2009. We will send blog posts as e-mails to iynf-2009@fao.org and Mr Henrik Kuffner of the iwto kuffner@iwto.org (further contact details in post number 37) as first ports of call for both to inform the UN General Assembly to amend resolutions passed and issue new directives to the FAO for a major re think on next year’s programmes of work and implementation.

We regret that our alarming observations could not be announced earlier because the economic changes and the ensuing global economic recession took us all by surprise. However, despite the bad news every where, we have exciting good news that have come about as a result of current uncertainties. Our good news affects wool mainly from the UK’s stand points and will be beneficial for other wool producing nations.

We have selected Mr Kuffner and IWTO as a channel of communicating to the UN’s General Assembly because he issued a press release in January or May of 2007 from New York/Brussels on the subject of the UN General Assembly’s initiating 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibres. It is hoped that both the FAO and Mr Kuffner will pass on our justified concerns to the UN’s General Assembly for issuing amendments and revisions to their initial resolutions of 2006 when the world followed a different economic regime and enjoyed a boom that some natural fibres benefited more than others. Wool certainly suffered and continues to do so in the UK.

In addition to case studies and other information teams UK, Australia, New Zealand and some others from 100 wool producing nations may present for wool for garments in the IYNF conferences and seminars, we will ensure that factors below are not overlooked:

1) The FAO notes on natural fibres reports that China produces no wool at all. This is an outrageous omission by a reputed world body such as the FAO to say the least. It is widely reported that China has the largest population of sheep and goats per head of population in the world and beats Australia to the second place. FAO itself (cited by Earth Policy Institute epi@earth-policy.org) updated the figure for China to 298 million sheep and goats on 9 January 2004. What does China do with the wool? We have reasons to believe that China buries it in wall cavities as insulation. We have no evidence to report of China using wool for textiles and garments either for home consumption or for export to the world
2) As reported elsewhere in our blog and further evidence will be published in due course, China receives most of Australia’s wool and that of New Zealand. Australia started exporting wool to China in 1991 and New Zealand reported a reduction in the earlier years of this century. The UK too exports her wool to China. What does China do with all the imported wool?
3) If China buried the wool to insulate buildings, what does she do now with the mountains of wool accumulated thus far, now that the Chinese construction industries have shrank to size? Use wool to feed land fill sites? Is that the best ethical, moral, and environmental uses for the one of earth’s precious natural resources, the fibre of the gods? Such unethical practises by China in collusion with the US and India have rendered the masses unemployed and deprived of scratching a livelihood in Latin America as just one example. They cannot compete with China and India to beat the latter’s low production costs
4) China may be self sufficient now in wool for building insulation and may have already stopped the importation of wool from other countries. What do the UK, Australia, New Zealand and other wool producers do with their wool now? Destine them to land fill site? UK is running out of land fill sites if local authority taxes charged is any thing to go by. The Local Government Association reported last week that the current charge is £38 per ton of waste destined to land fill sites. This figure may be increased to £138 per ton to deter producers of waste
5) Oxfam UK alone reported last week that their 22,000 square feet of storage space in the Yorkshire area receives mountains of surplus garments sent from their UK national charity shop outlets. The situation is a nightmare for Oxfam staff that is overwhelmed by the volume of waste they receive. It must be emphasised that most of the garments received are the discarded items by our throw away society who are spoilt by cheap and nasty cotton and man made imported clothes the bulk of which comes from China. Has the latter been burying wool to keep global demand for cotton high, with another major cotton producers, the USA, turning a blind eye, while enjoying the cheap cotton imports? Oxfam segregates unwanted throw away clothes for exporting to poorer nations (probably countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and elsewhere – countries where these cheap imports were made and shipped to the UK!!!). There may be another nightmare waiting to hit the cotton world itself. Lower consumer spending power in the UK (USA too) will result in lower purchases of even cheap cotton imports. In fact, the UK reported toady that Adams, a children clothes retailer with 200 national outlets went to the administrators with 2,000 job losses
6) World poverty is relative. Just because the UK is ranked to be the fifth largest economy in the world, it does not mean that the UK doesn’t have any poor people. Sticking to wool, some UK sheep farmers have been reduced to living on state benefit, not high lighted by the UK press and media. Farmers in general may have received over payments of sorts as a result of a government error, about which the UK press and even the public ‘have gone to town’ and their cries and outrages continue to be echoed. But the same press and public remain resistant to promote wool, mutton (food security) and related industries who depend on wool for their livelihoods
7) The UK consumer is generally resistant to GM food to an extent that major supermarkets such as TESCO, Sainsbury, Morrison, ASDA, Waitrose and others do not sell GM foods as far as they admit verbally. A survey is needed to gauge consumer reactions to their wearing GM cotton. Questions such as do they have any objections to wearing GM (BT cotton from USA, China and India, at least) T-shirts, Jeans, denims, and combat trousers need to be answered. Do they know at all that they are wearing BT cotton? Garments are not BT/GM labelled. Should they be? If not, why not?

The fact alone that the FAO reports on the one hand that China does not produce any wool at all, but on the other, reports China’s sheep and goat population at nearly 300 million in 2003 are in serious contrast to say the least. We firmly believe that Mr Henrik Kuffner of the IWTO should communicate this anomaly to the UN’s General Assembly who should in turn question FAO’s facts and figures on the global wool situation. Above issues should not pale in to insignificance the following important factors:

8) Changes in carbon energy tariffs to the UK consumer: These may have risen by 30% or thereabouts in the last year. The credit crunch and major unemployment have made every one feel the pinch, especially the increasingly older population who can either eat or heat in winters. Now that the UK wool has no place to go and may be destined to land fills, should it not be used to insulate bodies? The scenario equally applies to cold parts of Europe, Canada, USA, and elsewhere. FAO may realise that older programmes, lectures, seminars, and presentations may already be outdated before the IYNF even starts. Hence a major re think as we suggested at the onset of this post
9) New appraisals are needed to study the impact of all the air miles that cotton and wool travel and cross travel between the US, Asia, and the UK in relation to the de carboning of our energy consumption in the UK. This, coupled with new use of wool for garments may contribute positively to the net total of our energy figures and contribute to a reduction in global warming at least in a small way

We regret to inform UK and world (Facebook) blog readers that we will be deviating from our set course to do with the knitting café, promotion of mutton, unearthing more leads for the UK youth et al to network and get proactive with Survival Clubs, and something nice we have on the therapeutic aspects of knitting to alleviate chronic pains, stresses and even depression. We will fit these issues in when we can. Meanwhile, our using the FAO work programmes and itineraries as our road map for sometime to come, will provide indirect leads that our friends and supporters may pick up and hit grounds running with.

Mohammad

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