GUEST BLOG: The Lockdown With Bryan Bruce : Day 6 : BB talks with Dr Mike Joy


Did you know that nitrates in our ground water may be linked to a rise in bowel and colon cancers or that some NZ Farmers are being paid millions of dollars by our government NOT to farm in order to preserve two of our largest lakes ?

Mike Joy is a freshwater ecologist , who used to be a Dairy Farmer thinks its a great idea .
I spoke to him on Skype today (as I will speak to many New Zealanders in the coming days) about how he wants our country to be different after the pandemic is over.

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Mike is a fearlessly honest scientist in spite of johnkey and others who do not want people to hear his message.
    He has faced loosing his job and livelihood but refuses to bow to those who blindly continue to stuff up our water, land and biodiversity, just for profit. Mike has extended a helping hand to farmers and some have responded.

  2. What an interesting interview,… back in around 2004, I remember our biology tutor stating clearly that the links to nitrates in processed meats like sausages, corned beef and others containing nitrates were linked to colorectal cancer …

    This guy is extraordinary , a farmer , a practical type of many occupations, a fresh water biologist, originally observing the effects on native fish and their decline because of human activity… and then there’s the high costs to the taxpayer regarding massively excessive nitrate levels and colon cancer,- wheres the ‘ Taxpayers Union’ on all of this ???

    Surely they would be interested in public health and the knock on effects and stress put on our medical infrastructure… why are they so silent on the issue?

    A theoretical 12 billion dollars of taxpayer funding to pay the farmers of south Canterbury to ‘stop farming’… and the current figure of 40 million dollars a year to pay farmers not to farm near lake Taupo and Rotorua at present…

    Why the roaring silence, ‘Taxpayers Union’?

    Cat got your tongue?

    Or are you too busy counting your dollars from investments?

    Or is the prospect of going green and organic farming methods sounding too much like turning into long haired sandal wearers for you? Are you a pack of regressive Luddites? Are you the guys on the Titanic running around handing out Hors d’oeuvre’s as the vessel breaks in two?

    Fossil fuel derived fertilizers… by products from the petroleum industry.. salts basically , that create an excessively saline top soil, destroying the humus layer, and the beneficial microorganisms in that soil layer, and create conditions whereby plants uptake of water is excessive to compensate for the saline conditions , – creating wonderfully big crops ,- but massively depleted in reconstituted micro-nutrients from that same diseased humus layer and thus giving to you the consumer, a foodstuff that not only is substandard, – nutritionally deficient !!!

    And this goes for the livestock that feed off the vegetation given to them, as well as YOU ! But its a double/triple whammy because not only do we receive a product that is nutritionally deficient, so do the animals, and cumulatively , the environment becomes less and less productive with the constant application of fossil fuel fertilizers, until it becomes dead, barren. And on top of all that ? ,…both animals and humans develop serious , long term chronic illnesses.

    This is exactly what has happened in large areas of the USA.

    Sooooooooooo….. diversification is needed.

    One of the most successful and productive vegetative productions was the ‘French’ intensive growing methods. That and the ‘Irish’ or ‘Chinese’ market garden practices, – all of which involved raised beds and intensive planting techniques. Which also greatly conserved water use as it relied on a heavy mulch which retained water and created a micro climate because of the close canopy of foliage. It also involved ‘companion’ planting. Which tended to repel pests and diseases. The vast monocultures around the world have often been subject to disease and financial disruption because of trying to go against natural farming techniques, – the Irish potato famine of the 19th century being among the more famous of them.

    On large farming enterprises, smaller areas were subdivided that rotated animals and used more natural methods to rest the land were practiced, – even hogs to overturn and fertilize the land as it lay fallow…have been long practiced in Europe. Recently , the reveging of riparian areas as a natural filter to maintain safe waterways , and the planting of ‘erosion proof ‘ hedgerows / tree
    wind breaks that provide habitat and shelter for not only livestock but other native species are being looked into once again , – these and many more ‘old’ but safe methods, of which these are but a few, – are being re-investigated.

    As Mike says, you are up against industrialized farming that receives subsidy’s, – whereas that should be reversed so that the industrial polluters pay. And the permaculture / organic farming practices receive the subsidy input instead.

    When I was doing my Dip Sc and Tech ,.. we visited an award winning dairy ‘organic’ farm in the Waikato that practiced many of these things and ran a healthy profit while doing so. The water from one stream was so clean because of riparian planting that we were invited to drink straight from it. It was crystal clear, and tasted wonderful .

    I’ve seen it in action, studied it , practiced it in horticulture so don’t tell me it cant be done.

    And lets not even start on the knock on effect to marine life and our coastal regions as the final destination of all that massive tonnage of fossil fuel derived synthetic nitrate…

    That is yet another issue saved for next week…

    Good video.

    • Great post WK
      Permaculture has been around for years and some farmers are lowering stock number, cropping and financially doing better with soil improving steadily.

  3. Super interesting.

    It is not just fresh water to look at as well but the health of our oceans. Animal waste goes mostly into fresh water but human waste mostly goes into the sea….

    If more effort is put in, we can save the oceans.

    Oceans can be restored to former glory within 30 years, say scientists
    Major review reports recovery of marine life but a redoubling of efforts is still needed

    There also needs to be a way for the cumulative effects of water pollution to be stopped not green lighted by councils and the environment court and the laughable environment protection agency that has never had a prosecution, because at present it’s our government and laws and our pro business interpretation of them, that are the ones ok ing the destruction of our freshwater and oceans.

    A few headlines alerting us to NZ’s water issues…

    NZ Government Secretly Funded Water Bottling Companies

    “A dam illegally constructed in an Auckland Council reserve is set to be lowered before Christmas, but not removed

    The impact of an illegally-constructed dam has been described by the Environment Court as “critical” for New Zealand’s most endangered bird but its removal will be a slow process, with the company which built it unlawfully setting most of the terms.”

    Harbour of doubt: The tiny creek that drains Auckland of its waste
    “St Lukes mall, one of the single biggest contributors of sewage into Meola, and likely among the biggest overflow points in the country.”

    No plan to tackle environmental degradation by increased tourism – Commissioner

    Protesters are vowing direct action in southern waters after oil giant OMV was yesterday cleared to drill up to 10 exploration wells off the Otago coast beginning this summer.

    Waihi runs out of water, council distributing water bottles

    Appeals against Chinese water bottling plant dismissed

    EPA grants drilling and discharge consent for Otago coast to oil and gas company OMV

    “Directors of Tamarind Taranaki, the New Zealand business of a Malaysian oil and gas producer say the company “may be insolvent”.
    Tamarind operates three oil fields according to its website, Tui, Amokura, and Pateke in the Tui Area oil field. It is the 100 per cent owner and operator of the fields.
    The company’s business model is to buy oil fields late in their production life.
    When buying fields off other companies, Tamarind assumes responsibility for any remediation costs when the field is closed.”

    Dairy firm wants ocean wastewater outfall

    EPA’s ‘inappropriate’ reaction to student’s speech

  4. While there are intelligent farmers who will explore change and learn from each other about doing well in their new direction, there are others.
    Dairy and Beef NZ like Business NZ ( renamed NZ Initiative) have followed a pro market growth model locking many farmers into practices they struggle with to keep solvent because of land prices, bank appointed advisers and mortgages that threaten to cripple them.
    Offshore buyers of land and farms have exacerbated the problem pushing land prices up. Cheap imported labour helps hide the poor economics of many farms that pollute through over stocking and fertiliser use.
    The Farmers organisations are unlikely to change direction unless they are pushed, not into oblivion but better practices and diversification into cropping and locally consumed foodstuff plant based.

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