Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

LEARN2: a sad Italian food security issue

Dealing with food security in Italy might seem someway useless, because our country is considered whealthy and developed enough not to face any problem of such kind. But then I remembered of a report I saw on the televison a few years ago, which was definitely on topic, and I thought it was worthing to further research on it. The report was about pollution related to unappropriate, illegal disposal of toxic waste, and the bad consequences it brought to sheep-breeding.

This sad history takes place in Naples and the Campania region of Southern Italy, which is relatively close to where I live (a couple of hours by train), but it involves the entire country.
In 1994, the European Union deemed Naples's garbage situation an official environmental emergency;
however, things have only gotten worse since then.

The Campania region is backdrop to the biggest criminal and environmental emergencies in Italy. The
Camorra, Italy's most powerful and dangerous Mafia element, has been controlling the waste-management industry for decades in collusion with the corrupt Neapolitan government. Toxic waste from every part of Italy (mostly from the north, especially the region of Veneto) were collected and directed to
the so-called "triangle of death", an agricultural area which is also home to a rubbish dump that is supposed to be shut, but is secretly in operation. There, the waste was disposed without any precaution and the consequences were soon revealed.

The number of birth defects in the area has risen by 83 per cent in the past decade. Alessandro Cannavacciuolo, a farmer whose father and uncle died from cancer last year, said: "Five years ago, my family had 2,500 sheep, and now we have only 250 left. The animals eat poisoned grass and drink poisoned water and they give birth to monsters."
During the past eight years several livestock farms (sheep, cattle and river buffalo) in the provinces of Naples and Caserta (southern Italy) have been unable to sell their milk and other dairy products due to the levels of dioxins (17 different types) present in the milk mass exceeding the value permitted. While some farms, especially those showing relatively low levels of dioxins, have managed to reduce the dioxins in the milk below the permitted threshold by changing the diet, many, especially sheep farms, have failed to do so. Indeed, about 12,000 head of cattle, river buffaloes and sheep have so far been culled. Furthermore, high levels of mortality and abnormal foetuses were recorded in one of the two farms when compared with the control. Here you can find technical details:

In Rome, an absence of landfill sites has spurred local politicians to claim that the city is about to suffer similar problems. Sales of Neapolitan mozzarella, made in nearby Caserta from buffalo milk, have
plunged by 40 per cent. Shoppers are afraid that the animals are eating grass laden with dioxins. Sales of local wine and olive oil have also dipped, and supermarkets are hastily removing the region's "Made in
Campania" labels from products.

Below, I report a few more links (in English) which I found about this topic and some related ones:
the Globe and Mail: Italy has its own version of Mad Cow disease

What hurts me the most, as an Italian citizen, is that solutions to such issues (as I'm asked to report them by this EVOKE mission) already exist, they're just not adopted. There would be no need for innovative ideas, no new technologies to avoid this. It would be sufficient just to keep within the law, to respect people and the environment.

Easy to say but, apparently, not to put in action, in our country.

I thought that adding a video about what such illegal practices can cause was important but, please, AVOID WATCHING THIS IF YOU'RE IMPRESSIONABLE OR EASILY FRIGHTENED

Views: 452

Comment by Elastika on March 22, 2010 at 10:03am
I'm familiar with this problem and I think it can easily repeat again.
Otherwise this part of Italy is so beautiful and charming.
And since I know about the possibility of dioxins also one of my favorites foods "mozzarella di bufala" doesn't tastes the same.
Definitely +1 local insight!
Comment by Thomas Bell on March 23, 2010 at 1:48pm
Thank you for pointing out that even in developed countries these problems exist. This should be the first step to popping the bubble we privileged live in!
Comment by MoE on March 25, 2010 at 11:16pm
@Elastika : "mozzarella di bufala" is a big bad issue when coming from Naples and surroundings. To me, it's a kind of sad alimentary reminder of something very wrong going on, so close to where I live. Hard to imagine how this might be solved, when knowing my country's inertia towards certain topics...

@Thomas : I agree. Alarm bells are ringing to wake us up, saying we should look on both sides of the coin of our development. I hope we'll be ready to catch up the message on time
Comment by Christian Brumm on March 26, 2010 at 10:36am
Eye-opening article, I did not know that such problems exist in Italy. I heard about the mozzarella, but never bothered to research the real cause of the problem. Great research and very well written!
Comment by Riko Kamachi on March 26, 2010 at 11:20am
Wow, so much information here, and such a pressing issue. Thank you for an amazing post, I really learned a lot here. The video in particular is horrific and gets your point across very well.
Comment by Fin-Jasper Langmack on March 26, 2010 at 11:30am
Very shocking and eye opening. Unbelievable how the criminal energy of very few persons can effect so many.
Comment by Matt Gareau on March 27, 2010 at 8:12pm
Thanks for the information, I had no idea that was happening.
Keep up the good work.


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