Farmscape for March 26, 2008 (Episode 2793)
The University of Manitoba is raising concerns over the manner in which scientific information it provided is being used by the provincial government to justify its ban on swine industry expansion in most of Manitoba.
Following the release of a Manitoba Clean Environment Commission report on the environmental sustainability of the hog industry, the province announced it will impose moratoriums on hog industry expansion in three areas.
U of M Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences dean Dr. Michael Trevan, says a detailed examination of the CEC report shows that, while it makes broad recommendations for addressing livestock manure related concerns, he finds no evidence to justify halting expansion over the whole of central and southern Manitoba.
Clip-Dr. Michael Trevan-University of Manitoba
The thing that concerns me is that there is one civic institution, the government; and here is another civic institution, the university; and the university provided a lot of the science input that was considered by the Clean Environment Commission.
And what really troubles me is that the minister, pretending he's working on the basis of the recommendations by the Clean Environment Commission, implies that the science is supporting his case and it doesn't.
As soon as you get into that sort of situation, where politicians pretend that they have evidence that supports what they're doing, you damage both the political machinery and the machinery, in this case the university, that's been providing that evidence and at that point you lose public trust in these civic institutions and that does nobody any good at all.
To me that's the real nub of this question...not whether or not there should really be a hog ban in the province but actually what it does to the objectivity of evidence as perceived by the public.
Dr. Trevan recommends dealing with hog operations individually rather than through broad based moratoriums.
He suggests the ideal solution is be to feed only available phosphorus and just enough for health and welfare thereby reducing the amount coming out in the manure.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
*Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council