Published: Friday 31 October 1997

Citing the case

The analysis of developments on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ( cites ) ('In favour of a lesser good,' Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 4; July 15, 1997) made interesting reading. Nobody speaks on sustainable use of natural resources. A bunch of comprador conservationists in India could easily defeat the purpose of conservation with ideas which echo the stand of the establishment and appeal to the English press.

There are at least two ways to show the inadequacy of cites . The chapter on international environmental laws in Agenda 21 asks for a review of international environmental treaties that were concluded without adequate participation of the developing countries. This is true of cites. One could ask for a review of the convention -- although the developed countries are likely to resist this move tooth and nail. The second option is to bring the transfer of genetic resources within the purview of cites . This is likely to ruffle many feathers. But it would show the developed nations....

Marauding multinationals

In the wake of the settlement between the tobacco industry and public health services in the us ('Fireworks follow smoke,' Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 9; September 30, 1997) multinational tobacco manufacturers are likely to shift base and target vulnerable markets in Asia.

With low capital investment and high capacities, these projects are like to succeed. Megacorps follow a market penetration strategy. Tobacco multinationals entering the Indian market could easily price their products to suit the burgeoning Indian middle class. By offering incentives to tobacco cultivators, a steady supply of raw tobacco would be ensured, making the industry even more firmly entrenched in South Asia.

Since liberalisation, the government has encouraged foreign direct investment ( fdi ). The proposals of tobacco multinationals, given the lure of fdi and their export potential, would be difficult for the government to refuse. The success of a tobacco multinational in India -- even though it has defaulted on taxes -- is a good indicator of the leniency of the Indian government.

Tobacco causes cancer. Its cultivation leads to depletion of forests -- wood is required to cure tobacco, encouraging logging. On the other hand, tobacco as a cash crop has hardly ameliorated the plight of farmers. There are more ills associated with tobacco than gains. The government should be wary of the growth of this industry. And it should be ready to refuse investment proposals from multinationals....

Herbs and nation

Down To Earth is doing yeoman's service in spreading awareness on science and development issues. The magazine has become an important resource material. But one would like to read more on herbs and medicinal plants -- an invaluable and untapped natural resource. Can we hope to see more articles on this area of research?...

Stand vindicated

The Sikkim government has decided to scrap the Rathong Chu Power Project. State chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling has shown his concern towards the environment, religion, culture and the people's sentiments by scrapping the project. Down To Earth 's spontaneous and unflinching support to the people's movement against the project has finally paid off. We, the Concerned Citizens of Sikkim, thank you for your moral support and deep concern....

Use recycled paper

As a regular reader of Down To Earth ( DTE ), I have become more aware of the issue of waste. The article on food wastage in the us ('Down the grain', DTE , Vol 6, No 7; August 31,1997) was very interesting. Since DTE is taken up with such issues, one would like to see it printed on recycled paper....

Double advantage

I congratulate you on your efforts to highlight the ramifications of cross-breeding programmes in India ('Vanishing breeds', Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 8; s eptember 15, 1997),. In fact, these programmes are a great threat to India's biodiversity. There is an urgent need for a rethink on livestock management policies. Traditional breeds of cattle need to be conserved not only for their good milk yield but also because they are adapted to the local environment and form part of India's sustainable natural resources....

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