GB No. 2, summer 1990


Almost a year ago, people connected with "Solidarity" negotiated at the round table with the Communist government, in a sub-assembly concerning ecology. The negotiations resulted in a decision to import milkpowder for infants. This apparently trivial matter (as compared with the importance and scope of other problems discussed there), has, however, a fundamental significance for the development and health of the majority of children, Polish milk being unfit for consumption. All this was obvious enough to the signatories of the agreement, so the carried was signed; and it was easy enough to be carried out, so soon milk powder appeared throughout the country. Thus, the communists, contrary to custom, kept their promise, and newborns everywhere happily drank the wonderful milk produced by Swiss firm GUIGOZ in Holland.

Several months have passed, and the "avant-garde of the working class," according to the "decrees of history," has withdrawn from its monopoly of authority. The new government, consisting mainly of people from "Solidarity," was created, but unfortunately, it has forgotten about a matter as insignificant as a purchase of milk for the kids. What's more, for almost half a year even Polish powdered-milk was not to be found in the shops. "Wiadomo¶ci" TV (television news) has revealed that such milk was actually produced in recent months in large quantities, but the producer kept it in storage counting on the expected increase in prices. However, in January this policy had to be stopped as the storage-costs turned out to be too high, and because the stored "BEBIKO" (milk product for infants) was fit for consumption only until the 15th of March. The families of the hungry babies ran to the shops and filled their kitchen cabinets with milk powder. But just when they thought the trouble was over... The "milk" from one box coagulated during boiling, and instead of Bebiko milk, out came cheese (still Bebiko, of course). From a second box, the powder simply stank - and it too, of course, was unfit from feeding children (if it had ever been fit). Amazingly, I have even heard of a women who bought "Bebiko" this month, fed her child with it, and nothing happened!

By the way, I wonder how many points from the agreement made at the round table have been carried into effect? I'm afraid not many. The Communists (oh, sorry - Social Democrats) have an excuse why they haven't managed to. But those who signed the agreements on behalf of the whole society and, later still, as representatives of this society, who entered the government and Seym of the Polish People's Republic, what explanation can they give? Do they feel obliged to fulfill their obligation now as the representatives of power? I'm interested to know what right and what duties they have decided to take over from their predecessors. I don't mean such delicate matters as the distribution of political power or the question of wages. I mean, among other things, something as basic as the human right to live in a clean and healthy environment. This cannot be dependent upon the current politic situation. That is why the words of one of the most influential ecological activists (!) are so shocking: "Why do you continue to harp upon the Round Table? Our government has enough to do even without it, so let's not interrupt. Besides, the agreement was signed in a different social- political system." What does "a different social-political system" mean? Under the Communist authority, contaminated food was considered harmful; under "our" government's authority, is it no larger this way? Did those matters, of which the quick and successful settlement was, at that time, the necessary condition of the survival and the relatively normal functioning of society, lose their importance after the 4th of June? Does the very existence of a non-Communist government make the poisons less toxic? One can multiply the question, but I'm much more anxious for an answer: not in words, but in the effective carrying-out of obligations.

Artur Wi¶liński

GB No. 2, summer 1990 | Contents