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20 April 2008
Humanity faces one of its shameful crises in the recent years and it’s about food, the basic ingredient of life.

Food riots turn deadly in Haiti

Across globe, hunger brings rising anger

Asian food crisis has political and civil implications

US Food Riots Much Closer Than You Think

Food riots to worsen without global action: UN

Search for ‘food riots’ in Google and you’d get results like the ones listed above.

Empty shelves in Caracas; Food riots in Bangladesh and Mexico; Warnings of hunger in Jamaica, Nepal, the Philippines and sub-Saharan Africa; Soaring prices for basic foods are beginning to lead to political instability, with governments being forced to step in to artificially control the cost of bread, maize, rice and dairy products. The price of rice in the world markets has surged 165 percent over the past year. The global food reserves are at their lowest in 25 years and that prices will remain high for years. If you combine the increase of the oil prices and the increase of food prices then you have the elements of a very serious social crisis in hand…
As per the UN, the price rises are a result of record oil prices, farmers switching out of cereals & grains to grow biofuel crops, extreme weather conditions in the major wheat/rice producing countries and growing demand from countries India and China. There is no one cause but a lot of things are coming together to lead to this. It's hard to separate out the factors," says Ali Gurkan, Head of the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Above all, there’s one important factor that’s getting missed here. Nearly all of humanity knows essentially nothing about where the food they eat every day comes from. How it gets from the ground to them. And they don't want to know about it. It's cheap, as close as their local store, and of high quality. So no worries! But expecting world’s food supply chain management to work seamlessly always, as if it’s a natural process is the crux of the issue here.

It’s shameful because it’s happening in 21st century when technology advancements & human civilization has reached a state where mankind is supposed to have crossed the survival mode and has been talking luxury. An optimistic view to overcome this crisis would be to see the markets automatically readjust to shortages, as higher prices make it more essential & profitable once again to do farming & grow crops for people than other forms of business. But a more sustainable & holistic approach would be to start build self-sustaining local communities where things like organic composting, recyclable sanitation, renewable energy & green building technologies are made more prevalent and feasible! And let’s call that Ethical Living!


EIA

On 29 December 2006, the Union environment ministry signed off on the environmental clearance for a bauxite mining project located in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, to be operated by Ashapura Minechem Ltd, a listed Indian firm that is on the verge of starting the mine.
On the face of it, the clearance, given by the ministry on the recommendation of an internal expert appraisal committee on mining, consisting of 11 members, was fairly routine but vital to Ashapura moving ahead on the project. But, it turns out that the critical environmental impact assessment, or EIA, the basis on which the expert group gave its approval, was based on data simply copied from a Russian bauxite mine report that had nothing to do with Ratnagiri’s vegetation or ecology. Interviews with activists, officials in the environment ministry and companies, coupled with a review of documents obtained through the Right to Information Act (RTI) suggest that Ratnagiri may be one of many projects cleared by the ministry based on inaccurate environmental assessment reports.

Probably, EIAs for the Hyderabad and Bangalore airports shouldn’t be any different.

Environment Impact Assessment or EIA is the study to predict the effect of a proposed activity/project on the environment. A decision making tool, EIA should compare various alternatives for a project and seeks to identify the one which represents the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits. (Thirty-seven years ago, there was no EIA but today, it is a formal process in many countries and is currently practiced in more than 100 countries)

The central question here is, whether it’s the lack of will or lack of knowledge that needs to be addressed.

Our ignorance in understanding things like the impact of this year’s March fog on the wheat yield or the impact of shifting to bio-fuel crops from the food grains production on the global food shortage leads to conclusion that it’s firstly the lack of knowledge followed by the lack of will.

The Ramky groups’ project in Gummidipoondi to set up a facility for treating hazardous waste is put on hold after the residents of Gummidipoondi raised enough objections saying that the company had violated the guidelines. The local community fears that the project, which involves burying large quantities of hazardous waste in a land fill, would contaminate ground water and it has alleged that the facility was approved without proper public hearing or the requisite clearance from government authorities.

While we wait for the national waste management policy, have you implemented the waste management policy in your home?


Naturally
Bala

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