The Green and The Black - Environmental Issues in the Agricultural Sector
"Kav Lamoshav" Vol. 240
Tzvi Levinson, Ron Ben-Mayor & Tal Tzafrir - Advocates
Environmentally speaking agriculture holds an ambiguous position -- It is both a "sink" for pollution and helps preserve natural resources, yet it is itself a polluter. The "Green" along with the "Black". 1. Recently, a Kibbutz was found guilty of commiting an offence of "water pollution" by knowingly storing heaps of cow manure in the open so that pollutants leached onto open ground and thereby possibly reached the local aquiferous underground strata. The defence in that case failed to point out the following: Whether there existed a real possibility of pollution or not -- The defence did not try to refute an entirely theoretic expert opinion presented by the prosecution that was not based on measurements (the expert did not even see fit to visit the place). Also, the defence did not care to bring evidence as to the nature of the flow of the local aquifer and whether it could be affected by the claimed pollution at all. It was shown that the Ministry of Environment (the prosecutor) permits the depositing of manure in the fields as a nutrient. An expert called by the prosecution testified that this method can be a source for water pollution in exactly the same way that the defendents were accused of. This presented an opprtunity for the defence (one it failed to employ) to claim that the proceedings were unjust -- If the Ministry of environment approves of such practices why should it treat the defendents in any different manner? Along side with the kibbutz were accused and indicted two functionaries as responsible for these culpable actions of the kibbutz by means of their ability to affect its conduct and a substantial fine was imposed on them. 2. Recently, the Ministry of Environment issued draft terms that are to be incorporated in Business Licenses for cow raisers. In the matter of sewage the draft terms require the installation of a sewerage system to gather sewage and channel it to a treatment plant, and where one does not exist, to install one. The duty to install a sewrege system and to treat that sewage lies on the local Municipality by reason of the Municipalities Act (Sewerage) 1962 that also provides a Municipality with the powers and resources needed to carry out that task. Similar powers and resources are, of course, not available to cow raisers. The draft terms also prohibit the reuse or sale of animal food surpluses and require that they be treated like manure and garbage. The draft terms set a certain method of disposing of empty containers and packages of hazardous substances (typically, pesticides). These terms run contrary to certain Regulations that explicitly allow for several methods of disposal and do not regard them as compromising the environment. 3. Pesticides are listed as hazardous substances in the second schedule to the Hazardous Substances Act 1993, yet the requirement to get a Hazardous Substances Permit is restricted to a holder of certain pesticides only, in an amount exceeding 50Kg. Certain provisions of the Act apply even if you are exempt from having a Permit -- Provisions dealing with means of storage of hazardous substances and their mixing. Several other statutory instruments: Prohibit the use of certain hazardous substances; Require getting special permits or licenses for the use of certain other hazardous substances; And Pose restrictions on their use.