Monday, June 7, 2010

Do we ‘have to’ have pesticide plants?

No, it’s not an emotional outburst though reading newspapers has left me upset today. But, I want you to start thinking from this basic question.

It is about the verdict of June 7 by the Bhopal court in the case of Bhopal Gas Tragedy. All the seven convicts in the BGT have been sentenced to two years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh each and, got bail for a surety of Rs 25,000 each. The Union Carbide India Ltd. has been found guilty and is fined of Rs 5 lakh for the industrial disaster. And, that’s all! While, the disaster claimed more than 15,000 lives and affected the health of about 5 lakh people in varying degrees. The BGT happened in December 1984 and the verdict is come after 26 years!

There could be a more ‘practical’ argument that why not insist on strengthening the legal framework to deal efficiently with industrial disasters than questioning the ‘so called’ obvious existence of pesticide plants? But, I think that’s mitigation with the underlying assumption that we’ll let it happen first and then find the ways to deal with it. And, till the time we reach the right solutions let the victims (that is always a common man!) pay the cost of development. Why in the name of development we often come up with things that have high costs over benefits? And, the costs are always to be paid by ‘them’!

There is another common argument in favour of modern agricultural (mono-cultural?!) technologies that we do need them to acquire ‘food security’. But, does the use of pesticides really provide it? Where?
Rather it is seen that more the cash crops and more the consequent use of pesticides, more is the number of farmers’ suicides… look at cotton farming in Vidarbha . On the other hand, we do have traditional and natural ways of farming. A comprehensive research into the traditional farming systems can help achieve food security with ‘diversity’ as a value addition! And, that needs no chemical pesticides.

Now, the last question that will lead you to the answer of the first one… Will you prefer chemical-free or chemical-loaded food on your own platter?

-Reshma