Recipes for a safer earth

Women's organisations the world over are observing the period from November 25 to December 10 as the fortnight against atrocities against women. Many international feminist organisations have decided to join hands to create a `safe' space for women.

The city-based Kerala Sthree Vedi is also organising widespread campaigns on various issues which affect women directly or indirectly. "Do not remain a mute spectator. React'' is the slogan that the organisation is raising on this occasion.

The harmful effects of pesticides on environment and human health and the need to reduce the use of plastics were topics thrashed out at a workshop held here on Wednesday. Participating in the workshop and sharing their experiences were women's self- help groups and farmers from various panchayats.

Apart from Sthree Vedi, Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and Thanal, a conservation group, had also joined hands to organise the workshop.

A member from Venganoor grama panchayat had a lot of information to share on the on-going organic farming experiment in her village. The soil, through previous pesticide treatments had turned much toxic and farmers had to start right from the scratch, by nourishing and preparing the soil before choosing good planting material, it was pointed out.

It was pointed out that often farmers had no option but to use pesticides to protect their crops and that they should be provided adequate support for launching organic farming experiments.

Specific marketing channels would have to be created for selling vegetables produced through organic farming, it was suggested. Most of the vegetables available in the market had high pesticide residues, which could in the long run create health problems.

Women themselves should take the initiative to react against the heavy use of pesticides for farming purposes. A lot of chemicals used so casually by people for gardening purposes or inside homes as mosquito or insect repellents can leave residues which could reach human body through air and food.

The harmful effects of plastic on human and environmental health also came in for discussion. Plastic should never be burned because the toxic fumes thus produced were quite dangerous. Hot liquids should never be taken in plastic vessels and one should think about the health aspects of re-heating food in plastic containers in microwave ovens.

The workshop also sought to explode the myth that all plastics could be re-cycled. Sthree Vedi's awareness campaigns will be now taken through schools, colleges and villages to mobilise women to join the fight.

By Maya C.

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