Blog Posts by author Sunita Narain | Centre for Science and Environment

Blog Posts by author Sunita Narain


Sunita Narain

Director General of CSE and publisher of Down To Earth, an environmentalist pushing for changes in policies and  practices and mindsets. More>>

31 August 2006

When we released our study on pesticides in soft drinks, our objective was clear: we needed action on regulations, which had been stymied because of corporate pressure. What we hadn’t anticipated was the response of the cola majors. Three years have lapsed since we published our first report on pesticides in colas. The response then had been immediate and vituperative. “There are no pesticides in our drinks and the Centre for Science and Environment cannot test our products” was the line taken by the cola majors.

15 August 2006

In 20 years, the world has come full circle: in the mid-1980s the process of globalisation intensified with the rich countries taking the lead in interconnecting countries because it was in their interest. Now in 2006, the same rich countries find the process of globalisation — economic and ecological — too hot to handle. They have become a roadblock in the way of global integration. The question is where will we go from here? Can we go back in time and close the processes of globalisation?

31 July 2006

When Parliament convenes for the monsoon session, the government plans to introduce the Food Safety and Standards Bill, 2005. I am sure the government will hope there is enough mayhem to distract the attention of legislators from the bill, which has been crafted carefully to weaken consumer protection in the face of the power of the growing business of food.

Food we know is a sunshine industry. And industry tells government that the regulatory regime is cumbersome and corrupt. This, it adds, strangles the industry. These arguments are correct.

15 July 2006

It seems that the people who matter in this country have a simple enough formula for life and liberty. We should open up the market, create opportunity for the organised industry, mix and stir, and then the work will be done. They will tell you that this will mean taking risks. It is another matter that they will not define who and what is at risk. If you object, you will be told that you are archaic, or worse still a communist, who wants to perpetuate poverty in the country.

30 June 2006

Railway minister Laloo Prasad Yadav and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu are the clowns of Indian politics. But think of the actions of the two in the past fortnight and you will begin seeing the difference. Sidhu led the protest for the Bharatiya Janata Party against the fuel price hike by riding an elephant. Effective but clearly stupid. Do excuse my intemperate language but the gall of the politicians to believe we are myopic and their complete lack of leadership in this time of crisis makes me mad.

15 June 2006

The agriculture minister told parliament last week that 100,000 farmers had committed suicide from 1998 to 2003, a period for which his government had data. This means 45 farmers killed themselves each day across the country. There is now information that suicides may be on the increase. In the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, unconfirmed reports talk about three suicides a day among cotton farmers, up from one a day a few years ago. But the matter goes beyond statistics.

31 May 2006

I first learnt about slapp when we released a study about pesticides in colas. PepsiCo had filed a defamation case against us in the Delhi High Court and our lawyer, fresh out of law school in Bangalore, jumped as he read through the company’s petition saying this was a classic slapp case. We were bemused, knowing nothing about such legal intricacies. slapp, he explained, was an acronym in the us for ‘strategic lawsuits against public participation’.

15 August 2003

In February, we released a study on pesticide residues in bottled water being sold in the market. We reported how we found legalised pesticides in bottled water. In other words, the norms for regulating pesticide levels in these bottles were so designed that pesticide residues would not be detected.

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