Editorial: Down with milk, and up with hemp?

Last updated 05:00 17/07/2014

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The land of cream and money is under threat.

United States-based firm Muufri is working on creating an artificial milk that would taste just like cow-produced milk but without lactose or cholesterol. Company co-founder Perumal Gandhi promises it will be cheaper and healthier than the dairy version.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says farmers are not worried. They should be. Artificial milk is as ridiculous as the horseless carriage, machines that can fly, polyester fabrics and margarine. Artificial butter? Who on Earth would want to eat that?

No doubt Gandhi is over-optimistic about his product's prospects. It will probably cost more to make and take longer to develop than he thinks. And some will always prefer the "natural" option. But the long-term potential for his product is huge.

And if artificial milk is coming, artificial meat is not far behind. That, too, has been demonstrated in the laboratory, and many will regard it as more moral to eat as well as more economic.

Southland's prosperity has become highly dependent on cows. So, as a province, our future would be safer it there were more diversity in its production.

So what about hemp? Some, such as Nathan Surendran, think it could be part of the solution. There are, however, two obvious problems with the idea.

Firstly, there are many people who, their brains turned mushy by smoking too much marijuana, will be unable to grasp the difference between hemp and their weed of preference. They will break into farmers' fields to raid the crop and get sick from smoking the wrong dope. Dopes.

Secondly, hemp and marijuana look very similar. So the less dopey dope-growers will realise that hemp makes ideal camouflage for their own crop - which they will seek to hide among the legitimate crops.

Fortunately, an alternative super-crop is at hand: kale. All hale kale. Well, . . . maybe.

But here is no need to panic. Armageddon is a little way off yet. And the risks are no reason to turn our backs on meat and dairy industries. We should make hay while the sun shines.

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- The Southland Times

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