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Who?ll feed the farmers?

The prices of food have shot up so dramatically, it?s got everyone talking about the food cycle. About how much we grow and where our food comes from, writes Bharati Chaturvedi.

india Updated: Jul 31, 2006 15:28 IST

The prices of food have shot up so dramatically, it’s got everyone talking about the food cycle. About how much we grow and where our food comes from.

Increasingly, as farming in India becomes even more homogenous, with largescale commercial holdings for specific kinds of crops, the space for food will reduce, as indeed, it has already.

Imported foods reduce not only bio-diversity, but also ensure that small, marginal families are unable to feed themselves with the nutritional level they require, given they now need to pay for food in cash and not just their own labour.

Now, the Sierra Club, one of the largest environmental organizations in the United States, is furious about a myopic World Bank policy that is likely to make things worse. The World Bank has worked out a scheme with the Global Environment Facility that will seek to create bio-tech harmonization plans. Most simply put, it will build capacity to Genetically Engineered Crops as a strategy to feed more people. But will it succeed?

The Sierra Club believes that's unlikely because of the extent of industrialisation. On the contrary, it suggests that reducing labour is useless in countries that have low labour costs and are typically, poor.

The benefits from the program are most suited to better off countries, who turn food exporters. In any case, countries with problems of feeding the populations subsidize food imports, making local farmers un- competitive and creating further poverty.

But what's there to learn from this for us? In the aftermath of the waves of farmers’ suicides all over India, we need to reconsider the food we eat and its long journey to our plates. Not to mention, ironically, getting food to the poor farmers of this country.

Why Worry?

Daniel Gilber is a professor of Psychology at Harvard. He's written this article you can find off the net that holds up a mirror to us all. He asks why climate change doesn't figure in our minds, despite the wide-spread damage it's going to cause. His reasons are brutal and unnerving. He suggests that the extensive damage is going to be a future crisis, which will take place slowly and it's hard to imagine its impact.

Consequently, we can't even imagine the beast. To understand why the environment might have been reduced to the sad, sick, dying system that still cradles us, read this jewel that's making the world think harder.

(If you feel for Planet Earth, write toearthwatch1@yahoo.co.in)