My special guest on Voices from the North on Wednesday was John Summerville, an experienced and gifted naturopath, homeopath and osteopath—a man of many paths. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. Here’s the interview:

John spoke with passion and humour of his overseas experiences leading to his work as New Zealand’s first paid Greenpeace staff member (“I think I earned the princely sum of $1 an hour!”). The story he tells of building an 18 foot diameter paper bomb to protest France’s nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll is not to be missed. John, the bomb and then-opposition MP David Lange were front page news and caused a momentary stir in the everyday lives of New Zealanders of the day. Of course, this experience (and others) left Lange with little choice but to carry the ‘anti-nuclear’ mantle when he took up office as New Zealand’s prime minister. As current NZ leader John Key is apt to broadcast, there is distinct national pride associated with these acts and they are part of the New Zealand psyche of today.

A year of 80-90 hour work weeks with Greenpeace left John burned out. He realized he would have to heal himself before he could heal the world. A friend suggested he visit a homeopath. His first taste of homeopathy can only be described as an epiphany and changed the course of his life. ‘The next day it felt as if the whole of my previous life I’d been standing under a cloud and now I was standing in the sun. It was really profound.’

John describes the origins of homeopathy with German doctor Samuel Hahnemaun and he concludes our talk with his take on flu vaccines. During the 1918 flu pandemic there was a 28% mortality rate for people treated with conventional medicine. In startling contrast, less than 0.1 of 1% of people treated with homeopathy died. John urges people not to get caught in the emotionality of vaccines. He sees the swine flu as [just] another seasonal cold or flu, not something to be frightened of. Yes, sufferers may be a little more achy or feverish but then John reminds us of the importance of drinking plenty of fluids and resting. He has had clients who’ve had the ‘so-called swine flu’ for six weeks and it has been gone within a week of being treated with homeopathy.

Vaccinations can suppress the immune system and are not a ‘cure all.’ I’m amazed at how much discussion there currently is concerning vaccines. John cited a study stating the vaccination compliance rate for US health care workers was only 40%. What does it suggest to you if the people working with vaccines don’t want to be injected themselves?

 And here’s an interesting twist on that theme. I received an email yesterday with a link to a YouTube video speaking of mandatory vaccinations for health care workers in New York State.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

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Here’s a story that crossed my path over two years ago. I continue to find it inspiring how groups that have traditionally fought each other have been able to work together for a common cause – saving a precious part of our planet. I like to think that we’ll see more and more of this kind of cooperation in the years to come.


 Huge chickens invaded fast food stores in London and started to ask
 customers if they knew they were eating soya from deforested areas of
 the Amazon. That was in April. The chickens were noisy Greenpeace
 activists… It took McDonald’s only six hours between the first ‘homo
 chickenacius’ invasion of its restaurants and the phone call to
 Greenpeace to discuss the issue. Why? Because fast-food consumers
 started to be choked with McNuggets and McChickens. Ethical
 consumption’s appeal is increasing.

 Brazil’s foremost business commentator Miriam Leitao was writing in the mass circulation newspaper O Globo about a unique campaign that began four months ago in Leicester Square and culminated last week in Sao Paulo, when some of the world’s most powerful companies took a first step towards saving the Amazon from the ravages of soya cultivation. An unlikely union of Greenpeace, McDonald’s and leading UK supermarkets like Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and ASDA had successfully pressured multinational commodities brokers into signing a two-year moratorium on buying soya from newly deforested land in the Amazon.

 Business journalists have often been quick to accuse groups like
 Greenpeace of nurturing a knee-jerk hostility to global corporations.
 Well, yes, we do hold the view that multinationals are responsible for
 much of the environmental degradation blighting our planet. But our
 alliance with McDonald’s and other food companies demonstrates that when business is ready to seriously tackle a crisis, we are ready join




 I cannot say it came naturally to Greenpeace to jump into bed with the
 world’s largest fast food company! But it is a fact that, in this
 instance, the company immediately recognised the nature of the problem and sought not simply to put its own house in order, but to use its might to push a multi-million dollar industry towards a more sustainable future. For that McDonald’s European executives must be congratulated.

 Home to at least 30 per cent of the world’s land-based animal and plant
 species and 220,000 people from 180 different indigenous nations, the
 Amazon rainforest is one of the most unique and biodiverse regions on
 the planet. Yet in recent times, an area the size of Wales has been lost
 every year – that’s equivalent to a football pitch cleared every ten
 seconds. Soya is becoming the prime driver of this deforestation as the
 crop is used increasingly to feed chickens, pigs and cows for meat
 products, including, until recently, Chicken McNuggets.








 We conducted a three year investigation into the trade, uncovering a
 supply chain that begins with illegal rainforest destruction – sometimes
 using slave labour – and ends at the counters of fast food restaurants
 and supermarkets in Europe. Using satellite images, aerial surveillance,
 previously unreleased government documents and on-the-ground undercover monitoring, Greenpeace campaigners for the first time tracked the trade in soya beans from plantation field to fork, in the form of meat reared on the bean. Given the slice of the market commanded by McDonald’s, the company was an obvious starting point for the application of consumer pressure. What we did not expect was the speed with which the campaign progressed, and the allies we would make along the way.

 The April release of our investigation, across three pages of this
 newspaper, coincided with a simultaneous invasion by 2m high clucking
 chickens of McDonald’s restaurants in seven UK cities. By the time the last of the chickens had been unchained by police from the counter of Manchester’s flagship restaurant, Ronald McDonald had come to the table.



 The company very quickly agreed to get Amazon soya out of its chicken
 feed. But more than that, it formed an alliance with other UK retailers
 – including ASDA, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer – to put pressure on
 agribusiness interests operating in Brazil, including Cargill, to stop
 destroying the rainforest. Cargill is the world’s largest privately
 owned company and has led the march of soya across the rainforest
 frontier. If the big retailers will not touch chicken fed on Amazon
 soya, so went our reasoning, the pressure on Cargill and the other
 commodities giants to source soya from elsewhere would become

 An indication of the influence being exerted by the retailers came in
 May at a meeting I and my colleagues had with Cargill executives in the
 midst of a shutdown by Greenpeace volunteers of the company’s European headquarters.


 Our discussions had been preceded by phone calls from UK buyers expressing concern at Cargill’s practices in the Amazon. Cargill’s bosses seemed to have jumped the psychological barrier of dealing with Greenpeace and were ready to negotiate. And they did, in a series of meetings in London and Brazil over the following weeks. These meetings included the president of Cargill in Brazil who was very frank about the problems of legality the company was facing in the Amazon.

 Eventually the alliance of Greenpeace and European retailers led to a
 two-year moratorium on multinational traders buying soya from newly
 deforested land in the Amazon rainforest.


Last week, the agreement was signed in Sao Paulo. The signatories included the US-based multinationals Cargill, ADM and Bunge, the Brazilian Amaggi group, and French-based Dreyfus — between them responsible for most of the Amazon soya market.

 Given the scale of the crisis in the Amazon, a two year moratorium is
 only a small beginning and falls far short of what is ultimately needed
 to protect the rainforest. It is now up to us to monitor the
 implementation of the deal to ensure there’s no going back on the
 commitments made.

 Crucially we have to close any space that might allow companies to go
 back in two years time and return to a business as usual approach in the belief that the heat is off. But the deal, if implemented properly,
 truly demonstrates the influence consumers can have on events thousands of miles away, and the power that can be brought to bear when business is willing to apply its might to the greatest problems faced by our species and our world.