Responding to the Situation

by Trish Overby

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In the past 10 years, the UK food industry and farmers have been facing a debilitating crisis involving the ignorance of the public and the inept response of government food agencies. Farmers have had the 'plague' of BSE on their backs for almost 10 years. Only within the last weeks has the EC made any positive response to the European ban on British beef. The threat of Salmonella and Ecoli bacteria in our food seems to be regularly in the news. U.K. farmers have to deal with it by attempting to eradicate the threat using more antibiotics and drugs in the farm animals. The poor public respond to both of these situations by confusion, defiance or fear of one of life's basic needs -- food. These three responses can effect the business of farmers, butchers, delicatessens, supermarkets and the food processing industries.

Lack of sufficient information has caused most consumer's confusion. The governmental food agencies' scientists are still 'guessing' at what causes CJD(Crakhov-Jacob Disease) in humans. Because of the similarities of the two diseases(BSE and CJD) they have assumed there is some connection and possibly a transference between species of BSE to humans. Research is on going to find the source of both diseases. The government has responded with several different laws to protect the public. In 1996, the government ordered the destruction of millions of beef cattle. It was thought to eradicate the disease completely from all UK herds. Farmers' businesses were effected and in 1998, they still are attempting to destroy the cattle. The publicity of BSE has caused the public to stay away from beef almost completely. This has had a double consequence to British farmers' business. How could they answer back but to say the government is wrong? Who do the consumers turn to for the truth of the situation?

In 1998, we have the government forbidding the selling of beef on the bone. The butchers and restaurateurs have to change their products or menus to accomodate this law. Some however, defy it by continuing to sell T-bone steaks or beef ribs. Many customers who buy these products are not afraid of how their health might be affected nor of what the law could do to them if they were caught. They prefer to make their own decisions as to how their lives will be lived, not 'dictated' to by the government. At least they are attempting to help the businesses effected by their disregard of the laws. But who is to say they are right in their obstinance?

The third response to this situation is fear. Our immediate reply is one of repulsion and avoidance. We saw it in the Perrier/Benzine scare several years ago. The world-wide sales of Perrier dropped to almost nothing immediately after most of the supposedly contaminated bottles and cans were removed from the stores' shelves and coolers. Perrier used to be the number one mineral water but has never recovered this number one position from this 'scare'. The beef crisis is still unresolved. Farmers are crying out for help from the different effects of the above responses to the situation. How do they instil the confidence people once had? The trust we had in the food producers and even our government is a big problem to overcome. The food industry tells us we can eat certain products and the government tells us we can't. Who do we trust?

In this world filled with panic, disregard of government and confusion, we all need someone we can trust to show us what is really true. The government tries to do this with its legislation of laws and regulations. The scientific and technological institutes attempt to give us the 'up- to-date' research and information regarding an issue. But it appears these are not enough in our complex world. They attempt to give us answers and guidance for our problems and dilemmas but are limited to what they can humanly know or see. These limitations add to the problem -- not solve it. We need Someone who isn't limited by these restrictions. A supernatural Being who can see above and around all these restrictions. This Being would instil confidence and trust in us because His world view is bigger than ours.

The Bible speaks of such a God. This God is a creator God, who made us all for a purpose. He loves each one of us and cares for all the minute details of our lives. We don't have to appeal to Him with sacrifices but come before Him in honesty and love and He will guide us in this complicated world. Only this type of two-way relationship can create the confidence we need. Only this relationship is the correct response for all situations we face in this confusing world of ours.

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