The Peace Party believes that physical and mental health are basic human rights, and that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that proper health care is available to all members of the community whenever needed.
We recognise that individuals have a responsibility not to place an unreasonable or unnecessary burden on a community’s resources, but failure to discharge this responsibility should not jeopardise an individual’s right to health care. Health care should be equally available to every individual according to his or her needs.
We also have a responsibility to be aware of possible indirect effects of our actions on the health and well-being of people in other parts of the world, where (for example) environmental changes are threatening and in some cases destroying traditional sources of water.
Control of narcotics
While is is proper for the state to ensure as far as possible that people are aware of the consequences of their actions — in particular those that may be detrimental to their physical or mental health, we do not believe it is the government’s job to tell people how to live their lives. Partly for this reason, and partly because criminalisation of the illegal drugs trade is counter-productive (it keeps prices high and helps the trade and related criminal activities to flourish), we believe that a strong case can be made for the legalisation of the sale and use of drugs.
In many ways government policies have tended to exacerbate the drugs problem. Too little attention has been paid to the need to raise the living standards and expectations of people in areas regarded as ‘deprived’, and the support that is provided for the victims of the drugs trade is woefully inadequate. Employment opportunities should be be developed in these areas by encouraging and promoting suitable enterprises, and no one suffering from an addiction should be denied appropriate help, support and medical care.
Use of animals in medical research and testing
In no circumstances should testing of potentially or actually harmful substances be carried out on animals for cosmetic or other non-essential products. For medical purposes we must, as a matter of urgency, develop effective alternatives to the use of animals in research and testing, and such alternatives should always be used where available.
Although there is generally plenty of food in the UK, not all of it is healthy. For reasons of culture and sometimes necessity many people are more concerned with cheapness and convenience than with quality. This attitude is encouraged by the major food concerns, who routinely resist attempts by government to introduce legislation, and treat conformance primarily as a ‘selling point’.
The implications for health are serious. The situation is not helped much by the media, which tends to present food issues as a series of scare stories, often contradicting one another, or in the form of rival, ineffective and probably unhealthy slimming regimes.
To help people to make intelligent and informed decisions about what to eat, we would collate the latest genuine, independent and reliable research findings of the effects of diet on health in a publicly accessible report. We would also look for ways to encourage small growers to distribute and sell their produce through ‘farmers’ markets’ and vegetable-box schemes.
There can be no doubt that genetic modification (GM) of crops has brought about, in many parts of the world, significant increases in crop-yields, disease-resistance and other desirable attributes, and that there are as yet no reported cases of serious damage to the environment resulting from the leakage of the modifications into other organisms.
Nevertheless objections to GM remain. Some people are concerned on moral grounds, arguing that the structure of life is too fundamental and ‘sacred’ to permit interference by humans, while others feel that the possibility of catastrophic error cannot be ignored. We understand too little, they argue, of the complex ecology of life to be sure that our changes will always be benign.
In Europe, unlike the USA, these arguments have prevailed so far, and of course, like the USA, we have the luxury of not actually needing to increase our crop yields anyway. In view of this it does seem sensible to apply the precautionary principle: ‘If you are not sure it’s a good idea, and it isn’t absolutely necessary, then don’t do it.’
There remains the question of imported food, which is not under our control and may consequently be genetically modified. Here the principle must be one of freedom to choose. If I do not want to consume GM food I must have the right not to, and this implies that all GM foods, or foods that may contain GM substances, must be clearly labelled as such.
A good supply of clean water is available to every household in the UK, and for this we must be grateful to, among other things, the far-sightedness of Victorian engineers. Inevitably there are now increasing pressures on the ageing infra-structure, and substantial investment is necessary to keep the supply and waste disposal systems in good order, as well as water-conservation measures and avoidance of wastage.
At the same time we must be conscious of the fact that many parts of the world are not so fortunate, and that competition for water is becoming a significant source of tension between countries. The UK must play its part in helping to defuse these tensions, and we should also take seriously our responsibility to contribute as little as possible to the causes of global warming.