IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
GM ignorance At its best
This refers to the interview of Deepak Pental, director of Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (‘Stopping GM trials is anti-farmer’, May 1-15, 2012). I reply to the claims of Pental as the lead petitioner in the Supreme Court, where the trials of DMH -11, a genetically modified variety of mustard crop, were challenged in 2007. This case was not pursued for various reasons, including the need to concentrate on Bt brinjal, which was the immediate threat to India as large-scale trials were on the anvil.
This GM mustard is tolerant to Bayer’s herbicide glufosinate, which is an environmental threat and a significant health hazard. Herbicide-tolerant crops result in greater use of herbicides. Their use has spawned herbicide-resistant weeds in Canada where a similar formulation with rapeseed was introduced years ago.
Another point: GM mustard field trials carry significantly higher risks than other crops because of their “promiscuous” potential to contaminate. The case of rapeseed in Canada is an indication of what lies in store if GM mustard is adopted. Canada has lost its local and export markets in non-GM rapeseed.
It is worrying that Pental accepts contamination as par for the course. He was a member of the regulator’s expert committee for Bt brinjal. We are the world’s centre of diversity for brinjal, with 2,500 species. This germplasm would get contaminated if ever Bt brinjal is approved. Pental’s remarks lend credence to the belief that our regulators are not concerned about contamination.
It is fortunate that Rajasthan stopped the GM mustard trials. All states must ban open field trials with immediate effect and legislate accordingly. An informal ban won’t do.
Yoga’s healing touch
This refers to the write-up, “Calling Ramdev’s yogic bluff” (March 1-15, 2012). The book’s title Yoga and Other Quackery Exposed is misleading and tries to put down a valuable tradition, science and art which has stood the test of time.
I had to quit my job of 12 years as a software design engineer at Microsoft because of musculoskeletal complaints. Over the past decade I consulted almost all orthopaedists, physiotherapists and chiropractors in Bellevue in the US but it was of no help. Then I started practising Iyengar Yoga and experienced firsthand benefits. Iyengar yoga was the only method that provided a clear approach to resolve the problems through a series of progressively challenging postures.
It is well known that wind transports insects (‘How Wind Lures Mosquitoes’, March 1-15, 2012). Wind speed and direction is of significance not only in atmospheric science but also in insect pest management studies. In a research by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute satellite images were used to show how the wind helps disseminate spores of air-borne pathogens. They are transported by the upper air circulation pattern and follow the wind trajectory from Nilgiri and Palni hills in Tamil Nadu to the central and northern regions.
There the spores wash down over wheat crops by winter rains, diseasing the standing crops. Similarly, locust swarms originating in North Africa travel along with the wind, crossing countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen and reach India, converging over Gujarat and Rajasthan, and destroy crops. It is seen that when there is convergence of wind system, the locust swarm also converges towards the earth surface. If there is divergence of winds, it gets transported along the system.
K Kailasa Nathan
Principal scientist (retired)
Indian Agricultural Research Institute
With exploding human population and ineffective planning, national parks are seeing a sharp decline in the number of of tigers (‘Who makes poachers?’, May 16-31, 2012). Poaching cannot be done without the involvement of local people. Villages inside the parks must be resettled outside, as their activities endanger lives of the animals. Therefore, co-existence of people and wild animals is neither practicable nor desirable.
It’s for the better
This refers to the cover story, “Kudankulam meltdown” (April 1-15, 2012). The intervention by former president A P J Abdul Kalam and other eminent scientists to allay fears of villages surrounding the plant was a welcome step. The prime minister’s remark that “foreign hand” (foreign funding of certain non-profits) was responsible for delaying the commissioning of the plant cannot be brushed aside.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha’s initiative to commission the plant by working in coordination with the Centre is commendable. The plant is the gateway to economic development. The Tamil Nadu Cabinet, chaired by chief minister, has decided to offer a development package of Rs 500 crore for Kudankulam.
K R Srinivasan
Two evils make a good
Instead of waiting for an ecological disaster to happen, why not mix plastic waste with flyash and build water-resistant houses and roads (‘Sand slips’, April 16-30, 2012). This will arrest illegal sand mining and prevent large-scale misuse of land as dumping ground for flyash. It will also generate full time employment for rag collectors.
In India, house and road building industries are likely to consume 240 million tonnes of sand in the 12th Five Year Plan. What’s stopping the two industries from using flyash?
B N Bose
This refers to the editorial, “Six sins that make drought invincible” (May 16-31, 2012). The impact of climate change is going to get more severe with time.
In Pakistan, we experienced a drought in 2010 which was followed by floods the next year. Water is the primary medium through which climate change impacts ecosystem and the human population.
I believe the solution lies in integrated water resources management (IWRM) which promotes coordinated management of water, land and related resources to maximise economic and social welfare without compromising sustainability of ecosystems. South east countries are currently not in a condition to adapt to climate change. IWRM will surely minimise the six sins mentioned in the write-up.
By the time rural communities are empowered, both educationally and politically, to make rational land and water management decisions, they would have sold off most of their land assets in a hope to make a better life.
Land and water management has to be approached from a local level, unless authorities are considering restructuring the entire landscape with large-scale irrigation projects.
Our mid-sized town Karwar in Karnataka, bordering South Goa, has been caught in a web of corruption. Here, whether needed or not, the state authorities are constructing cement roads in mofussil areas with low speed traffic and little heavy vehicle movement.
Cement roads create more heat compared to tar roads, do not allow rainwater to seep down, thereby hampering groundwater recharge. They have also built cement pavements along the roads, blocking chances to lay underground water pipelines and telecom and sewage networks.
Sanjay S Shanbhag