Poisoned tomatoes

Australian tomato lovers may soon be facing hefty price rises for their favored fruit after millions of tomato seedlings plants were deliberately poisoned on two farms in the northern state of Queensland.
The company affected supplies seedlings for 30 of the region’s growers and its entire stock of 4 million young tomato plants, 2 million young capsicums, melon, pumpkin and eggplant seedlings have been lost. A hydroponic farm where 16,000 mature tomato plants were growing have also died.
According to a report on ABC news, a herbicide was injected into irrigation systems and it’s the fourth time crops in the region have been poisoned.
It’s a shocking crime from a human and environmental viewpoint. People in the area will lose much needed work and abuse of herbicide on such a scale is never a good thing; along with all the resources that have already been put into raising the seedlings.
The region produces well over half Australia’s entire tomato crop and during the colder months, that percentage increases. It’s estimated the sabotage will cost anywhere from AUD 23 – 50 million dollars.
When you think about all the products made with tomatoes, this will hit many industries hard and more tomatoes will have to be imported – adding to “food mile” carbon emissions.
While no-one is going to die of starvation from lack of tomatoes, it will impact many people negatively and it does highlight just how fragile our food systems are – and the cost of demanding out-of-season produce. It’s also another tap on the shoulder that establishing a back yard vegetable garden is a good idea; not just for environmental and health reasons, but with food security in mind.