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Need to have system to make complaints

india Updated: Sep 19, 2011 00:42 IST
Bharati Chaturvedi
Bharati Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times
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This is no less than a science thriller: A Bangalore-based NGO, Environment Support Group, investigates the workings of an agriculture giant, Monsanto and their partners. They discover the company has broken rules by accessing and using the indigenous brinjal varieties for the development of Bt brinjal without prior approval, which is legally mandatory.

The NGO complains to the Karnataka Biodiversity Board with all the evidence. A year and a half later, environment minister tells the Rajya Sabha that the National Biodiversity Authority of India had decided to "proceed as per law against the alleged violators."

The larger point? It is hard to bring official attention to such violations. There must be an easier way for citizens to participate in protecting bio-diversity. The government must set up a complaints system that allows more serious complaints with even small bits of evidence to be investigated by a committee or department trained in this.

The person who complains should participate in this investigation, but the onus to prove should be on the agency or committee. At the very least, it creates disincentives for bio-diversity theft of this kind.

Polyester in the Fish

Many people describe polyester with disdain. But then, it's about taste and snobbery. I was surprised to read about this about-to-be published research by ecologist Mark Browne and others, at the University of Sydney, which gives anyone green at heart a good reason to avoid polyester and even, acrylic.

A test showed over 1900 fibres per wash in a washing machine, in the sewage. Furthermore, these were less than a millimeter, therefore micro-plastics. Tragically, 18 sites worldwide showed plastic pollution of shorelines from such microplastics, and the researchers are confident of this link. We don't know what exactly happens when sea life eats these plastics, but most likely, apart from the obvious choking, many additives are absorbed by the animal.

Polyester is however, worn frequently by the poor, so our focus should be about handling sewage differently rather than stopping polyester in several applications.