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Messages from cola JPC

The JPC findings on the presence of pesticides in soft drinks has many underlying messages for us all.

tech reviews Updated: Feb 16, 2004 02:01 IST

The JPC findings on the presence of pesticides in soft drinks has many underlying messages for us all. For one, it tells us how little we know about what we eat. There is very little transparency and regard for consumer rights and health in India. How else could one explain the fact that the accused companies even began an advertisement campaign mocking at genuine concerns? Although it would have cost only seven paise per litre to remove these pesticides from the drinks, this never happened.

The second lesson is related to vilifying citizens' groups. When the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) broke its scary studies, most of the middle class was stunned. Yet, it was not encouraged to address the issue as much as the credibility of the organisation, its sources of funds and so on. It is scary because it shows how the public space for asking questions (not to mention hard-hitting facts) is shrinking and it is more and more difficult to question market giants.

The CSE survived the onslaught and stands vindicated, but many other organisations would have been demolished for daring to speak out. If we want to breathe clean air, eat healthy food and drink toxins-free water, then we have to join hands and speak up. Both the right to information and the right to ask embarrassing questions are vital for environmental protection.

Illegal uranium mining

Environmentalists are alarmed at how uranium mining has been allowed near the Rajiv Gandhi Sanctuary. It will not only contaminate drinking water, but also lead to further erosion of the tiger's habitat. The Pollution Control Board has already refused permission, but the area will be opened up nevertheless. Despite widespread protests, no reasons for this decision were given.

Let’s grow organic flowers

This Saturday, the Indians celebrated Valentine's Day in some fashion or the other. But some Americans are worried about at least one thing: the flowers. Many of these are grown in South American countries and India. In the former, we have evidence that many workers are seriously impacted by the pesticides they use to cultivate these flowers. In Columbia, just a few months ago, 384 workers were found to be ill from pesticide poisoning. The Flower Workers Union has used this example to point out the poor conditions under which the symbols of love are actually produced. If we used less of them, perhaps organically grown flowers would become more viable.

(If you feel for Mother Earth, write to Earthwatch1@rediffmail.com)

First Published: Feb 16, 2004 02:01 IST