Hi dear ones,
The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.
With its extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Medical research has also shown possible benefits of stevia in treating obesity and high blood pressure. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets. Health concerns and political controversies have limited stevia’s availability in many countries; for example, the United States banned it in the early 1990s unless labeled as a supplement, but in 2008 approved rebaudioside-A extract as a food additive. While some countries limit or ban its use, Stevia is widely used as a sweetener in Japan, South America, and parts of Asia.
King of Vegetables
Bacillus Thuringiensis Brinjal, popularly known as Bt brinjal, is at the centre of a major controversy in India.Bt brinjal, a genetically modified strain created by India’s number one seeds company Mahyco in collaboration with American multinational Monsanto, claims to improve yields and help the agriculture sector.
However, the debate over the safety of Bt brinjal continues with mixed views from scientists working for the government, farmers and environment activists.
Environment activists says the effect of GM (genetically modified) crops on rats have shown to be fatal for lungs and kidneys. It is dangerous to introduce these experimental foods into the market without proper research, they say.
This would be a big threat to India’s agriculture with MNCs charging Indian farmers for their seeds. The supply of seeds will be regulated and thus costlier. Indian farmers would have to depend on MNCs for seeds.
Tons of Cotton
BACILLUS thuringiensis or Bt is a naturally occurring soil bacterium used by farmers to control Lepidopteran insects because of a toxin it produces. Through genetic engineering, scientists have introduced the gene responsible for making the toxin into a range of crops, including cotton. Bt expresses the qualities of the insecticidal gene throughout the growing cycle of the plant. Cotton crops are very susceptible to pest attacks and use up more than 10 per cent of the world’s pesticides and over 25 per cent of insecticides.
In India, while cotton is grown on 5 per cent of the total crop area, it uses up 55 per cent of all pesticides. Intensified chemical use has led to a dramatic rise in pest infestation as, over time, they have become resistant to insecticides. Increasing chemical costs and falling cotton prices have pushed thousands of cotton farmers in India, where the majority of the 17 million cotton cultivating families subsist on less than two hectares, into a vortex of debt.
Bt cotton, with its promise of reduced insecticide use and resistance to pest attacks – leading consequently to a rise in yields with lower costs – is being pushed by the multinational as an environmentally safe and cost-effective alternative to conventional cotton seeds.