In Short

Published: Saturday 15 May 2004

kids at risk: Many Indian children who are constantly exposed to pesticides have serious disorders: severely impaired analytical and judgement abilities, motor skills, concentration and memory. This was revealed in Greenpeace India's recent study, 'Arrested Development'. Conducted in the country's cotton-growing belt, the survey evaluated the abilities of 898 children from selected locations in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. It calls for a ban on all pesticides, especially those prohibited in other countries.

plant law: The 90-day countdown to the entry into force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture has begun with the latest ratifications by 11 European countries. A total of 48 countries have given the green light to the treaty. It might become law in June. The pact aims to conserve and sustainably use plant genetic resources and ensure fair distribution of their benefits. There has been a dramatic decline in the world's biodiversity since the beginning of agriculture, when around 10,000 plant species provided food and fodder. Today, just 150 crops feed most humans.

stiff dose: The Supreme Court (SC) of India has directed all state governments to universalise mid-day meals in primary schools on a priority basis, no later than September 2004. The directive has been issued in view of the violations of the SC's November 2001 order regarding mid-day meals, as revealed by a recent report. Also, the Union government must submit a concrete proposal within two months about extending the provision of cooked mid-day meals till Class X as a national programme. Besides, the apex court has ordered the continuation of mid-day meals during holidays in drought-affected areas and the priority appointments of Dalit cooks.

brickbats for kilns: Environmentalists in Nepal are up in arms against brick kilns, which pollute the air and degrade fertile lands and water resources. A recent study by Clean Energy Nepal, a non-profit group promoting sustainable energy use, reveals that the percentage of essential soil nutrients is lower in areas near brick kilns. Some green groups also allege that crop productivity has decreased by more than 50 per cent in some such areas. It is estimated that there are around 200 brick kilns in the country, of which over 50 are operating illegally.

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