Subh-e-Nau Magazine

GMOs: the hidden dangers behind its advertisements  

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) present a rosy picture as a boon to unsuspecting countries who do not realize the hidden dangers of this technology in tampering with the delicate balance of local agricultural practices and related ecosystems. Pakistan must stay clear from this risk and pursue environmentally safe and sustainable solutions to meet its agricultural and food security demands.  

Pakistan is an agricultural  country with more than 47% of its population dependent on agriculture as a means of living. Agriculture contributes 24% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and  contributes 70% of its foreign exchange. Pakistan exports crop to few countries including Afghanistan, Middle East and several Central Asian Republics.
Over the past few years, Pakistan is facing some challenges on the prospect of drought, salinity; stress and climate changes and all of these issues have raised query on the food security issues in Pakistan and other part of the world. To tackle these challenges, one approach that has been used in the world and to some level in Pakistan is to turn to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
However, there have been controversies over the use of GM crops in Pakistan. After all, technology has to be tempered with ethical, environmental and safety concerns. The only GM crop approved and grown in Pakistan is the BT cotton mainly grown in the southern Punjab. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) provided about 40,000.00 kg seed of insect resistant varieties including IR-FH-901’’, “IRNIBGE-2’’ which were grown on about 8,000 acres of land in year 2005-2006. The regions in which BT cotton was grown included Bahawalpur, Multan, Muzaffer Garh and Karor Pakka.
Monsanto is currently providing different variety of seeds (non-genetically modified) and herbicides to farmers in Pakistan. In May 2014, a Pakistani court directed the national bio-safety committee to suspend issuance of new licenses for growing GM crops until there was a proper legislative framework and adequate facilities for testing and screening.
First the government itself imposed a ban on the introduction of BT cotton in Pakistan in 2005, but later allowed it after different interests, including seed companies in connivance with agriculture ministries and departments. Pakistan, along with other South Asian countries, took to GM technology without addressing regulatory issues first.
According to the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), a number of Pakistani companies have approached Pak-EPA for launching genetically-modified food products but they have not provided a no-objection certificate (NOC) to any of them. Many of the local companies want to import genetically-modified food products from China but the officials of Pak-EPA have not given any approval in this regard.
Successive governments, the agriculture bureaucracy, and scientists have kept promoting BT cotton varieties since 2005 without realizing that cotton production has continued to decrease and new pests emerged because of the mix of seeds. There have been many corrupt rulers and politicians  who are knowingly  killing the people with GMOs, these  rulers are least interested to save the life and health of their voters. As such, the government should put an immediate ban on the use of GMO seeds, and ensure provision of subsidy to farmers for enabling them to use organic seeds for growing healthy and disease-free crops.
Multinational  companies pressurize and blackmail the government and related people, as they are seeking approval from the government to allow trial and eventually commercialization of the GM corn in Pakistan. Recently, a leading  foreign investor  group, The American Businessman Council of Pakistan, has asked the current government to allow commercial cultivation of GMO maize and to remove the anti GMO campaign going on in the country against the use of GMO cultivation. The present government’s food ministry is in an opinion that they would not take decision about adopting GM technology for cereal crops without giving it due consideration.
The government is on the right track in GMOs regard and they are reluctant in  the introduction of GM technology in food crops in the country although some of the International GMO producing companies along with some of the national ones, are promoting GMOs and forcing the  government to remove obstacles in GMO introduction in the country. Now it is our government’s responsibility to take them to task and not be attracted by a dangerous foreign investment.

BT Cotton: Present dangers and impacts

One of the two major types of genetically modified (GM) crops grown commercially carries insecticidal toxins from the Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) bacterium. BT corn contains a gene from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium,  that causes the plant to produce a toxin that kills the corn borer and some other pests. Overuse of the crop could result in pests becoming immune to the BT toxin, which diminish the effectiveness not only of the corn, but also of BT sprays widely used as a natural pesticide by organic farmers.
The selling point of BT crops was to reduce pesticide applications. It did initially,  because BT toxins from GM crops, claimed to be harmless to both humans and none target species. It turns out that the health and environmental burdens from BT ‘biopesticides’ incorporated into BT crops are not too different from conventional pesticides. The BT toxins are more likely to be ingested by humans and other animals as they are present inside the plant cells and cannot be washed off, making it all the more important to  counter these toxins. BT cotton was officially approved for use in Pakistan in 2010, but GM cotton seeds have been smuggled into the country since 2005. Today, it is used in 85 percent of Pakistan’s cotton belt. Since 2008 Pakistan has been growing Monsanto’s genetically modified BT cotton in over 80 per cent of its 2.5 million acres cotton-growing area in Sind and Punjab provinces. GM maize is in the pipeline, though no varieties have yet been released.
According to agricultural experts, the continuous use of BT cotton is affecting germination quality as cotton growers usually use more than the required quantity of seed and  the number of pesticides sprays have also increased and new pests like red bug, dusky bug, and stainer have also emerged in the BT cotton era. The harmful effect of BT Cotton are:

Increased Pesticide Dose

The  claim that BT crops reduces pesticides use is a lie, rather it doubles  the herbicides used per acre, with glyphosate/Roundup accounting essentially for all the growth.

Risks To Human Health

BT toxin has shown to cause damage to multiple organs including  the heart, kidney and liver of lab animals. Moreover, adverse immune responses were detected in lab animals as well as humans. Allergenic responses had been reported by farmers and factory workers handling BT crops for years, with effects on eyes, skin and the respiratory tract. The toxin crossing the placental barrier is of obvious concern. Reduced fertility in mice fed BT maize has been reported in a lab study.

Pest Control

The breakdown of pest control happens in a way that the expression of the toxin is not sufficient to kill all target pest. Genetic modification of plants is unpredictable by nature. BT toxins were inserted in plants so that they can be expressed consistently across the whole plant. However, studies have found inconsistent expression both across the whole plant and during its life-span, resulting in insufficient toxin to kill target pessaries have reported crop failures from target pests. With expensive GM seeds and additional pesticide costs, farmers are left worse off than before. In natural situations, plant damage caused by pests induces the release of the insecticidal proteins called terpenoids. But, with BT killing target pests, the plant damage and consequently, terpenoid release is reduced, leading to higher than normal infestation by other pests like cotton aphids.

Environmental And Ecological Damage

BT toxins has a negative impact on ecosystems. Cross contamination of GM varieties with non-GM varieties also poses big risks for biodiversity. BT crops are useless in pest control, and worst for pest infestation and reducing crop yields. They are hazardous to none target species in the ecosystem and to human health. All these above evidences  favors non-GM integrated pest control as a far superior strategy.
Pakistan commercial production of GMOs has started without conducting risk assessments on human health and the environment. According to Action Aid, in Pakistan poor farmers have been enticed into buying expensive cottonseeds. The results have been disappointing, with many farmers losing most of their crops and facing ruin. The Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (ARC) discussed that long trial periods are necessary to rule out health and environmental risks associated with genetically engineered crops.

Overall impacts of GMOs 

The main concern related to GMOs are that during the process of insertion of one or a few genes could have a negative impact on other desirable genes naturally present in the crop and they are produced by the scientists  through tampering with nature by mixing genes. Since this is done in closed controlled experiments, no one knows what the impacts to the environment. They may also argue that current GMO research and development leads to crops that benefit wealthier farmers or wealthier consumers and is being undertaken by large companies who stand to profit greatly from these innovations.
Establishing long-term safety would require decades of study of hundreds of thousands of GM foods.

Reasons Why Gmo Is Unfit To  Feed The World

As we know that GMOs are obtained as a result of genetic modifications. An organism’s genome is not static but fluid, and its biological functions are interconnected with its environment and vice versa and trying to control genetic changes via artificial modification is a dangerous game. Genetic modification cannot deliver a safe, secure future food supply. Here are key reasons:

Failure To Deliver

Despite the hype, the GMOs fails to live up to industry claims. Only two GM traits have ever made it to market which are, herbicide resistance and BT toxin.  Other than that, the GMOs are failed to materialize. For example  GM ‘golden rice’ hailed as a cure to vitamin A deficiency,  has never made it out of the laboratory.

Lack Of Cost Effectiveness And Corporate Control

GM crops are costing farmers and governments more money than they are making.  GM crops are patented, which allows a few multinational companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow to control the entire GM food chain  from research to breeding to commercialization of seeds. These multinational companies control the majority of the seed market and often also produce herbicides and fertilizers. Patenting genetic material has shifted the balance of economic power towards big business in their aggressive pursuit of profit.
According to an independent study, it was found out that BT cotton crops were costing farmers 10 per cent more than non-BT variants and bringing in 40 per cent lower profits and as a result  more than 32,000 farmers committed suicide, due to mounting debts caused by inadequate crops.

Genetic Contamination

In a recent study it was found out that contamination and cross-fertilization between GM and non-GM crops happens at large, which  damages to the crops.

Extra Pesticide Usage

GM crops increases the farmer’s dependency on pesticides although it is needed to reduce the usage  of pesticides and fertilizers. Most GM crops fall into one of two categories, either engineered to resist chemical herbicides, or engineered to produce insecticides themselves. When herbicides are used on resistant crops, over time the weeds develop resistance, leading to the use of even more chemicals. Crops engineered to produce insecticides on the other hand produce toxins that are not only harmful to pests but other insects such as butterflies, moths and insect pollinators.

Consumer’s Rejection

No doubt the biotech industry is working really hard but the consumers are staunchly opposed to GM food throughout the world. Consumers aspire foods grown by people on farms and not created in laboratories. They are fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of something natural being changed into something that is unnatural. Many  countries like UK, Germany, Australia and India have had a disastrous experience in growing the GM foods and they never want to see GM crops grown under any circumstances.

Breeding Resistance

It is found that naturally, there are many species resistant to GM crops emerging. It is reported that some species on the farms have evolved the ability to withstand the industry’s chemicals.

Causing Problems

Many of the so-called problems for which the biotechnology industry develops solutions seem to create more problems. For example cotton was claimed to increase resistance to pests, but farmers  discovered that by planting a local weed amid their corn crop, they could lure pests to lay their eggs on the weed and not the crop.

Health Risks

When tests were conducted on  animals exposed to GM crops, the results were serious in accordance to their safety. The damages were observed to every single internal organ of the animal. Some of the GM fed animals died suddenly within a few weeks. There have also been reports of allergy-like symptoms among laborers in BT cotton fields.  GM crops have not been proven safe,  sufficient evidence has emerged to raise serious safety concerns, that if ignored could result in irreversible damage to health and the environment.

Lower Yield

GM crops have always come with promises of increased yields for farmers, but the result is not the same, for example GM soybeans produce consistently lower yields than conventional varieties.

Fertilizers And Fossil Fuels

As claimed by the GMOs that they can reduce the need of  chemical fertilizers in order to achieve expected yields, but nothing fruitful has been done in this regard. Although, the industry has made much of the possibility of splicing nitrogen-fixing genes into commercial food crops in order to boost yields, there has so far been little success. This means that GM crops are just as dependent on fossil fuels to make fertilizers as conventional agriculture. Herbicide resistance is also not  beneficial. Similarly, BT toxin is designed to counteract the problem of pest control, which encourage infestations.
GM crops have failed to deliver the promised benefits rather they are advancing problems on the farm.
With these evidences,  GM crops should be firmly rejected now.
The promises about the ability of GM crops to tackle the world’s growing social problems are all false. They have reduced biodiversity, polluted landscapes, threatened the future of small-scale farming and reduced the food security of the world’s poorest people. They have not fed the world, but rather concentrated profits and power into the hands of a few ruthless companies.
In simple ways we can explain the effect of this genetic modification as in imagining your genes being modified. You are now a potent genetically modified human. The genes which have been modified in you codes for the protein controlling your height, after some time you have a height equal to a 3rd floor building. You would be able to reach height of the buildings, trees, shelves with your head. Would that be useful for you? Would you want that ? Definitely no. This is the tampering we are doing with plant species. We are modifying them according to our need. In the process of modifying one part, we are disturbing the others. Some major problems can occur due to this gene disturbance, It takes  millions of years for plants to stabilize their genes. Each of them is unique to different plant. By genetically modifying plants we are creating an imbalance in their system. They may become susceptible to different environmental conditions, may not be able to survive in those condition in which they earlier used to. By modifying the genes we are creating new diseases. Considering that they are modified using viruses and bacteria, there is a fear that this will certainly happen. There may be diseases created by these plants whose treatment may not be possible or may not be discovered yet.

Why Gene Contamination Issue Is the main cause of rejection of GMOs

The pollen from the genetically modified plants gets contaminated during this genetic modification.  When this pollen is around other plants, even things like grass or weeds, they cross pollinate. This could develop “superweeds” that have the same resistance properties as the crops. Here are some reasons why the issue of contamination leads to a complete rejection of GMOs:
The fact that the natural way of seed transfer is far better than that done in the laboratory as there is no way to guarantee against human error and activity, whether it be scientists mistakenly sending GM seeds around the world to unsuspecting colleagues , people smuggling seeds across borders, farmers sowing the grains of GM food aid, or biotech companies frequently violating biosafety regulations. The only way to prevent contamination is not to grow GMOs in a laboratory.

Damage control measures and effects on good farming practices

The plans for co-existence make it clear that separating GM and GM-free agriculture requires massive regulatory intervention. Crops have to be segregated by distance and barriers, seeds have to be certified as non-GM, funds need to be established to compensate non-GM farmers for contamination, post-harvest handling systems need to be developed.
The end result is far more control over farmers. They are forced to conduct  co-existence practices that have little to do with good farming. Despite claims that GM and non-GM can co-exist, it is patently untrue.

The poor will suffer the most

Whenever GMOs are introduced  contamination is inevitable. But it is not just the ease with which contamination can occur that is so problematic it’s the implications. The only practical option for countries is to close their borders to all imports of GMOs.

Farmers and GM Food Issues

GM foods directly impact the  farmers, who grow the products. In fact, farmers can often forgotten in all of the controversy, yet they play an enormous and important role in bringing food to our table. Many farmers are disappointed, finding mixed results or facing new problems in the extremely concentrated and corporate-dominated seed sector.
Big business likes regulations that enable to control the market and  put authorities under pressure to approve the crops and they pressurize farmers  to grow particular varieties under contract to corporations dictating what inputs they must use, as a result farmers have to grow their crops from seeds purchased from the company, leaving no room for seed saving or exchange, in this way a small set of corporations  emerges with complete control over the agriculture and food system. 
Farmers in India, China, South Africa experience pervasive indebtedness, evolving resistance of pests and weeds, and increased dependence on expensive seeds and chemical inputs. GMOs are a threat to the farmers. GM crops denature the role of farmers, who work hard  to improve and select their own seeds. GM seeds are owned by multinationals to whom the farmer must turn every new season, because second-generation GMOs do not give good results. It is also forbidden for farmers to try to improve the variety without paying expensive royalties.
Farmers risk being sued by big corporations if their crops are accidentally contaminated with patented GM crops.  A new study, shows that more farmers are failing to comply with standards governing the planting of genetically modified corn than the industry has claimed. The farmers are emphasizing the government  to stop relying on biotech companies to enforce the rules. There is already more than enough knowledge and technology for farmers to practice agriculture in ways that will feed the world’s population, look after the planet, and support the well-being of rural communities.
The potential emergence of resistant pests and weeds, habitat and agro-biodiversity loss, and negative impacts on beneficial organisms, would permanently damage the integrity of existing ecosystems and farmlands that small holder farmers have worked so hard to safeguard.

What we can do

It should be kept in mind that GM foods must be taken with a lot of caution to  avoid unfavorable consequences for the surroundings and our health.  The most efficient way to increase food supplies is not to develop new biotechnology, but to fix the parts of our current system that do not work. It is our prime responsibility to give awareness to the people of our country and to force our government to completely stop using these GMOs. There are different ways we can do that.
  • Ask the government to ban the cultivation of GMO-containing foods. Join up with organizations working on this cause and raise voice against GMOs.
  • Hold film screenings, discussions or conferences on the issue to inform our community members on the threats of GMOs.
  • If GMO containing foods are already in the market, ask for them to be labeled.
  • Information on risks associated with GM seeds such as impacts on neighboring crops, seed sterility and performance under extreme drought or rainy conditions should be provided in symbolic and easily understood visuals.
  • People need to start sowing organic crops.
  • The only possible way to support farmers and ecological agriculture we should show solidarity with the world’s peoples, for a complete rejection of GMOs. In this regard more and more people are working courageously, with whatever means they can, to keep farms, zones, provinces, states, countries and regions GM-free.
  • WHO, together with FAO, is working on the evaluation of GM foods and keep paying due attention to the GM foods from the view of public health protection.
  • It is time for our government to strengthen research institutes for promoting local cotton seed varieties. It also needs to cut bureaucratic hurdles in the way of quality seed approvals besides controlling sub-standard and mixed seed in the market.
  • Seed quality standards and proper legislature on genetically modified seeds is needed to be introduced by the government. If the situation really does get out of hand, these genetic seeds could end up killing all organic plantation around them.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Many people are uncertain about what a GMO is and the ubiquitous role GMOs play in our world.
A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is one whose genetic material (DNA) has been added to, removed or changed, through a scientific process known as genetic engineering.  With GMOs, DNA is taken from a completely different species and inserted into a crop to transfer genetic traits. Genetic engineering allows scientists to insert desired traits or features into an organism for example, in enhancing a crop’s resistance, enrich fruits and vegetables nutrient content, increase their shelf life, make them resistant to diseases, etc. They are called as “genetically engineered”, “genetically altered” or “genetically manipulated ”foods. This artificial manipulation of DNA never happens in nature rather it replaces the traditional method of selective breeding.  Many of these genetically engineered crops are available in countries around the world.

Story of GMOS

Research in genetic engineering began in the 1970s and the end of the 1980, the first GM seeds and plants were produced in the USA, mainly soy, corn, cotton and rapeseed. The first GM food was developed in 1944 and it was insulin, produced by modified bacteria.  Commercial sale of genetically modified foods began in 1994, when Calgene first marketed its unsuccessful Flavr Savr delayed-ripening tomato ( which was taken off the market after poor success), and in 1996 the first GM seeds were commercialized in the USA. Between 1996 and 2012 the cultivation of soy, corn, cotton and rapeseed spread across the world. Farmers and agricultural companies have long been improving crops to make them easier to grow, harvest, and store and to give consumers the tastes and qualities we desire.
To date most genetic modification of foods have primarily focused on cash crops such as soybean, corn, canola, and cottonseed oil.
Writers: Sundeela Fayyaz & Prof. Farrukh Chishtie

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Sarah Mahboob completes Double crown in SN NBP Tennis 

Sports in Pakistan are largely on a downward trend especially in wake of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism during last two decades or so. In this situation, women sports are more neglected and on a decline.   

Subh-e-Nau has always been supportive of involving women in mainstream sports activities and providing them equal opportunities with men. Since Subh-e-Nau is involved in promotion of tennis at all levels for last 26 years now, it has always given importance to female players in its events, coaching camps and other tennis related activities. Keeping its tradition alive, Subh-e-Nau hosted its second women exclusive tennis event in span of 5 months. NBP Ladies National Tennis Tournament held in February 2019 at PTF Tennis Complex organized by Subh-e-Nau. The tournament was exclusively sponsored by National Bank of Pakistan.
NBP Ladies National Tennis Tournament was announced in the last week of the January 2019 and it received overwhelming response from circles of tennis. Top ranked women players featured in this 5 days long winter tennis gala. Tournament held at newly renovated international synthetic courts of Pakistan Tennis Federation from 12th to 16th February. Player participated in 5 different categories in this event including Ladies Singles, Ladies Doubles, Girls Juniors U-18, U-14 and U-10. Chairperson SN Shahida Kausar Farooq appointed Mahvish Chishtie as director of the tournament while Shahzad Akhtar Alvi was appointed Tournament Referee. Draws of the tournament were held on Monday 11th February at PTF office. Pakistan’s top female player Sarah Mansoor was the top seed player for the tournament while seasoned player and eventual winner of the tournament Sarah Mahboob remained number two as per Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) rankings. On first day of the tournament, only 4 matches could be decided due to continuous rain spells in the Federal capital. On second morning, in the second round match of Ladies Singles, new player Zoha Asim registered an upset victory over 4th seed Mahvish to send the latter out of the tournament. She continued her good form throughout tournament and played semifinal of ladies singles against Sarah Mahboob. She defeated Meheq Khokhar in her quarterfinal match which was another upset victory. On the other hand, Sarah Mahboob and Sara Mansoor continued their smooth sailing towards semifinal spots without any notable resistance from their opponents.
The tournament’s third day was completely wash out to rain and a single match could not take place. Quarterfinals of Ladies Singles and Semifinals of all other categories were played on fourth day. Pair of Sarah Mahboob and Sara Mansoor qualified for Finals of Ladies Doubles to play against Mahvish Chishtie and Esha Jawad. Mahvish and Esha could not fight back against the experienced duo and lost in straight sets.
Zoha Asim fell just short of Girls U-18 title when she had to leave the final match against Shimza Tahir due to cramps. The match was evenly poised with one set all and Shimza leading the final set at 4-2 when Zoha retired from the match. Girls U-14 and U-10 titles went to 8 years old Haniya Minhas, who is daughter of PTF’s trainer and very talented kid. She proved to be the better player against Pakistan’s under 14 and under 10 bracket players and bagged both titles.
Sarah Mahboob and Sara Mansoor revisited their rivalry on tennis court as they locked horns for Ladies Singles title on Saturday afternoon at center court of Pakistan Tennis Federation Complex. Senator Salim Saifullah, President, Pakistan Tennis Federation, was the Chief Guest on this occasion. Both players played well but it was Sarah Mahboob’s day to celebrate the victory. She played flawlessly against Pakistan’s number one player and proved to be the better on the day. She won the match and completed the double crown in the tournament as she had already won Ladies Doubles title.
After the Ladies Singles final, Chief Guest Senator Salim Saifullah Khan distributed prizes among players. Humayun Saifullah Khan, former Member National Assembly and elder brother of Salim Saifullah, was also present on this occasion. Speaking to the audience, Mr. Salim Saifullah appreciated Subh-e-Nau and its Chairperson Shahida Kausar Farooq for her tireless services to promote tennis in the country. He said that Subh-e-Nau has big role in promotion of Tennis in Pakistan and Pakistan Tennis Federation will continue its support for SN in future as well. Speaking on this occasion, SN Chairperson Mrs. Shahida Kausar Farooq said that she has the mission to promote healthy activities for Pakistan’s women and she will continue her mission in future as well. She thanked National Bank of Pakistan for sponsoring this tournament. Distinguished guests planted trees in PTF complex after the prize distribution ceremony.
Abdul Aleem Chaudhry

 

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The two best things you can do for the planet in 2019 

The year 2018 drew to a close with some grim news on climate change and our survival. The UN’s special report of October 2018 has given humanity 12 years to get its act together or risk facing the worst of climate change.  

The worst of climate change could mean anything from extreme weather and water shortages to the collapse of entire ecosystems leading to our own extinction. The prediction could not have been more dire than this.
Now, the thing with such kinds of warnings is that it could incite two kinds of responses. The first kind is the one we would want to encourage – the one where everybody realizes the gravity of situation and demands immediate and drastic climate action. The second response, however, leans more towards hopelessness and despair. With so little time left, there is mounting uncertainty on whether we will be able to stave off the climate calamity. So, how can we ensure that we tip the balance in favor of the first kind of hopeful response?
According to Katharine Hayhoe, the number one way to gather momentum on climate action is by talking about it. She suggests in her recent TED talk that the conversation starter on climate change should be what matters to us and our shared common values instead of the science or the climate impacts. The science on climate change is pretty clear and has been talked about since the last 150 years. More talking about the science is not likely to persuade people. And as for the climate impacts, they have become apparent all over the world and affect all communities, albeit not equally. However, instead of using fear tactics or doom scenarios, a better approach would be to talk about how the climate impacts affect us and what solutions are available to deal with them. She is a proponent of rational hope and encourages us to be the same. She says that hope and a vision for a better future is what’s needed to motivate us to work for a long-term change to fix climate change.
The next best thing that we can do for the climate has to do with our lifestyle choice of consuming meat. Eating less meat or going vegetarian in 2019 is the best choice we can make for the climate and our health. We are all aware of the dangers of consuming red meat including the increased risk of heart disease, bacterial infections and antibiotic resistance etc. However, the environmental footprint of meat consumption is even more dangerous. It requires 4,325 liters of water to produce a kg of chicken, 5,988 liters for a kg of pork, 8,763 liters for a kg of sheep/goat meat, and a staggering 15,415 liters of water to produce one kg of beef. Livestock is also the biggest user of the world’s land resources, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Almost 80% of all agricultural land is dedicated to grazing and the production of livestock feed. Meat production also accounts for 14.5% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.
You may say that all this is fine but we cannot deny the importance meat has in our societies. Eating meat has become a part of our lifestyle and most people are not ready to give that up. And that is okay. If vegetarianism is not something you would like to try, then there are other diets you can look into such as the flexitarian (eating meat only once a week) or demitarian (halving your meat and dairy consumption) etc. Just reducing meat intake or going meatless once a week can go a long way in reducing our carbon footprint.
The new year presents us with a new opportunity to create a positive change in our lives and the planet – by consuming less meat and talking about the changing climate. We can no longer postpone action if we are to avoid the worst of climate change which is fast heading our way. We can only do this by breaking the silence around climate change and our habit of consuming meat.
Sometimes it is easy to forget that our field of influence and impact is much greater than we assume. One decision, one conversation and one individual can make a difference. So let us start the conversation on climate change with our friends and family over a bowl of salad this year and start creating a better world.
Writer: Amber Ajani
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