NEWS

Choosing expensive organic imports over conventionally grown local products is just one of the many issues

Traces of pesticides have been found in about 30 percent of plant products. These concentrations are above the «acceptable» limits in about 5 percent of products. Citizens, politicians and farmers all agree that turning toward quality farming is the only way out for the environment, our health and farmers’ sustainability. Until then, though, will we continue to import organic pears from Argentina, organic mangoes from Peru and organic dates packaged in Germany from Tunisia? Someone could quite reasonably argue that local environmental benefits derived from organic cultivation are outweighed by the energy consumed in transporting these products to the other corner of the earth. As the old adage says, «Every thing has a time and a place.» What does it matter if I eat organic strawberries at Christmas? The answer is simple: I prefer local organic products and I will persist in this until the dream comes true. – Cheap manufactured or expensive handmade products? In an age of change, we must reassess our notion of cost. How cheap is a product that was produced by underage labor and which bears a made-in-Europe label? What about the social cost to humanity and the tearing of the social fabric in areas that have become sweatshops surrounded by shacks and corrugated iron? At the other extreme, handmade products (which 50 years ago were the norm) are today far from cheap and designated for the elite. If they are affordable, it is because they were produced in a developing country. Is there a way out? Yes, just by redefining our needs. As a result of our excessive consumerism, we use two to three times more of the earth’s natural resources to dress ourselves, adorn ourselves and to provide for our insatiable needs which we then bury in waste. Moderation is the key as well as turning toward satisfying our real needs. This will enable us to turn the question around to «ethical manufactured products or affordable handmade goods.» Nikos Charalambides – director of Greenpeace in Greece – An expensive authentic CD or a cheap pirate copy? Let me ask another question. What if newspapers were to be circulated illegally for just 20 cents? What ethics condemn songwriters and singers to idleness? Why should they be the only ones that cannot make a living from their work? The more CDs sold – legally or on the black market – the larger the public for the singers’ live performances, which for most amounts to 70 percent of their earnings. How will these artists be paid for their work? Do we ask anyone else to stand by and see their work stolen and then ask whether this is ethical or not? Undoubtedly, company profits are much higher than the earnings awarded to the artists. The music market is not reputed for its ethics. Without any policy, love and thought for the songs themselves, they fill the market with rubbish, their eyes glued to the cash till. Music must and can be more affordable. There are ways. But newspapers too must be improved. Should we start selling them dirt cheap while their journalists remain unpaid? Odysseas Ioannou – director of Melodia FM 99.2 – Is a holiday home a luxury or a necessity? I believe the term «necessity» should be exclusively used to mean things that we need and without which we would die. All else can be regarded as desires, which are created from the social, economic and cultural pressures exercised by society and by the psychological state of each and every one of us. Naturally, satisfying a desire is probably a stronger incentive than satisfying a basic need. However, a desire is not a need, stricto sensu. A holiday home does not satisfy any need because nobody has died from not having one. Acquiring a holiday home may satisfy many different desires or a combination of these: social status, escape from an asphyxiating urban environment, the quest for solitude and concentration, strengthening family ties, conducting activities near nature and so forth. The question though that arises is what other desires or commodities is someone prepared to sacrifice to acquire a holiday home? – Getting a helper at home or not? If we maintain that we need help at home because our health does not allow us to keep the house clean or because our new professional obligations do not leave us any time to dust the books, clean the bathroom or play with the kids, for example, we are basing our argument on different criteria to those subconsciously in our mind. That is, that household tasks are demeaning and therefore someone else should do them. It would be wise therefore to look for the rationale behind an action, getting a home helper included, before deciding whether it is ethical or not. Giorgos Papagounos – professor of philosophy and bioethics at the University of Crete