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Re: European caution -Reply
I can agree that having a few, very large farms produce the lions share
of output promotes the separation of urban and agricultural viewpoints
(after all an urban dweller might reasonably think," potatoes come in a
bag and all look the same, why should I care where they came from, or
how they were grown...?"). This degree of insulation from agriculture is
much less likely in Europe.
Also, it has been policy across Europe to maintain this pattern of small
producers (as opposed to the lip service to this in the US; ie, "preserve
the family farm"). Coupled with this policy, however, is the high cost of
implementation; European small farmers have been pretty heavily
subsidized over the past several decades at least.
Another, related factor in the issue of (apparently) greater sensitivity of
Eurpoeans to food technologies are the issues of protectionism and,
perhaps, nationalism, too. Some of these technologies add pressure to
grow bigger/consolidate/integrate; this is counter the this historical policy
of governments in the region. Also, many of the technologies are
controlled by big, faceless, indifferent (and often American-based)
multinationals that nearly everyone distrusts.
Finally, I think the hypothesis that those who spend more of their income
on food might be more sensitive to its quality, is shaky. If you are
starving (one extreme on the continuum), you would not forego a meal
because it might have a residue that might someday harm you. The
dumpster-divers in every big city in the world understand this very well!
On the other end of the spectrum, the very rich, I'd be surprised if they
were totally insensitive to the quality of their food because food is such
a minute part of their budget.
For the rest of us -- somewhere in the middle -- well, we pick and
choose, trading off our perception of what is acceptably low-risk with
what we feel we can afford. I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority
of consumers would buy organic products preferentially if they were of
the same cost and apparent quality (stress appearance) as the