Category: Food and Drink

Pesticides – Impact on Health and Environment

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Do you know that worldwide pesticides consumption is around 2 million tonnes per year? That’s huge. Moreover, the global expenditure on pesticide at producer level are nearly $56 billion, of which 14% of the expenditure is taken by insecticides.

Pesticides have become an integral part of modern life and widely used to prevent the growth of unwanted living organisms. Due to the increasing population, the amount of food produced is important but there are other organisms that are striving to consume the crops meant for humans. When this happens, it results in huge economic losses.

 

Due to this huge loss in food production, pesticides are often used to prevent the pests. This results in so much money spent on pesticides. The benefits of pesticides can be categorised into two types – primary and secondary.

Primary Benefits

  • Controlling pests and plant disease: This includes controlling invasive species and improved crop quality and reduced soil disturbances.
  • Preventing organisms that harm human activities and structures: Pesticides products like Suspended SC help us prevent organisms that attack or destroy properties such as termites, cockroaches Infestation, etc.

Secondary Benefits

  • Community Benefits: Benefits like nutrition and health improvements, food safety and reduced maintenance costs.
  • Global Benefits: Less pressure on uncropped land and international tourism revenue.

Risks

  • Toxic to humans.
  • Negative impacts on ecosystem and environment

Pesticides are meant for harming only the targetted pest, but when used incorrectly it could harm people and environment. Here are the studies on the potential health effects of pesticides.

Lack of Regulations

Poisoning by pesticides is a global public health problem. This poisoning is more serious in the developing countries despite the fact that pesticides are sold in large quantities in the developed countries. One of the reasons for this is the lack of pesticide control laws and training programmes for pesticide users and inspectors in the developing world. Studies shows that around 25% of developing countries lacks rules and laws regulating pesticide use and its distribution.

Pesticides Regulations

In most countries, pesticides are regulated when it is approved for sale and should be used by Government Agency. During the registration process, the pesticides are given labels which mention the safety and hazard warning along with its usage. It also undergoes measurement of acute toxicity test and then classified into one of the toxic classes. Almost all deadly categorised pesticides and insecticides with severe health hazards are banned in most countries. The ban is imposed on pesticides which shows risk at very low level of exposures.

Environmental impact of pesticides

The environmental impacts of pesticides are either direct or indirect damage they cause to plants, animals and microorganisms and varies from minor injuries to death.

Environmental impacts can be categorised into two parts:

  • Damage to animals (Vertebrates & Invertebrates) & plants.
  • Pest resistance to pesticides

Pesticides use has two main unintentional effects on vertebrate wildlife by feeding on the contaminate plants and prey or exposure to high doses and poorer survival, growth and reproduction.

Apart from pesticides impacts on the environment, pesticides help farmers to combat pests and produce larger quantities of food. Farmers also able to earn more profit by having to sell more. Pesticides help farmers save money on labour costs as well.

Malaria, a deadly disease caused by infected Mosquitoes and others like bubonic plague and fleas transmitted by Rats and flea or body lice is reduced due to the usage of pesticides in agriculture sectors, as discussed in the research studies.

An Entomology, Matan Shelomi a published writer on Quora says in his answers that you’re ingesting pesticides and it is no problem at all and he explains it why is it not a problem. He explained that not all pesticides are toxic at all and said many pesticides degrade over time, by the time food reaches you there will be no traces of pesticides in it.

Many edible parts of the food are not sprayed with pesticides. He mentioned that what is deadly to plants and insects is not deadly for mammals and vice versa. Remember again that organic farmers use pesticides and sometimes much more than necessary.

Many NGOs and residents are against pesticides. Some are against due to the lack of knowledge or they believe that we are being exposed to many pesticides and government is literally helping it in the causes.

It is also encouraged by some organic food companies that conventional food companies are using a lot of pesticides and making wrong impacts on people and creating issues of using pesticides which don’t even have an impact on the people eating that food. Pesticides cause health problem to the people working in the field, like farmers, and even people living nearby.

5 Innovative Ways to Make Urban Farming More Sustainable

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Urban farms are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. Creative farming models are now being cultivated in a diverse range of urban spaces, from rooftops to within tall, enclosed buildings. These innovative growing methods prioritize sustainability, which plays a key role in making sure that our urban creations have the least negative impact on the environment. Here are 5 ways to maximize sustainability in your urban farm.

Rooftop Farming

One literally ‘top’ trend in urban agriculture is rooftop farming. This method makes clever use of an urban space that is typically unused and has been praised for its positive environmental impact. Rooftop farms provide extra insulation for buildings, lower temperatures in summer and maintain heat in the winter. These factors translate to less use of heating and cooling systems, which saves significant amounts of energy and money.

Plants grown on rooftops capture moisture in the air, which means that rooftop farms also help reduce the storm water flow that can pollute waterways and overwhelm sewage treatment facilities.

Vertical farming

Vertical farms produce crops in vertical layers in a controlled environment. Most vertical farms are created with tall enclosed structures, using height to maximize growth. This innovative approach to urban farming can help to maintain crop production all year round, without relying on favorable weather conditions, soil fertility, or excessive water use.

Establishing vertical farms in urban areas can ultimately help to create a more sustainable environment by contributing to less abandoned buildings, a cleaner atmosphere, better water conservation, and a positive impact on the health of the surrounding communities.

Shipping Container Farming

Recently, using shipping containers as urban farms has become increasingly popular. There is an abundance of shipping containers that are left unused every year, free to be used as indoor farms. These steel structures are durable, versatile, portable and stackable: ready to be placed as a container farm on any site with a strong, level surface.

The versatility of shipping containers provides a range of opportunities to create an enclosed ‘farm’ in any location, from your backyard to corporate campuses. Compared to traditional fixed structures, container farms can be set up in a relatively short period of time.

Using Hydroponic Systems

Innovative new growing techniques have played a key role in the sustainability of urban farming. Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil, a technique commonly used in vertical farming. This method has been shown to have some environmental benefits.

The controlled and closed environment of hydroponic systems usually eliminates the need for pesticides, meaning less poisonous chemicals on the food and plants grown. Hydroponic systems can also recycle water and nutrients, putting less strain on water systems. This sustainable style of growing has become a top choice for many large-scale greenhouses.

Using Aquaponic Systems

Aquaponics is one of the most sustainable methods of urban agriculture. Simply put, this method combines traditional aquaculture with hydroponics. Many farmers have embraced this method to become more environmentally responsible and promote good health within their local communities.

Aquaponic systems can grow many types of food without consuming too many resources. Only a few pieces of equipment in this method actually require power – and in most systems, the water is circulated rather than disposed of after use. Using this style of indoor urban farming, you can ultimately grow more food while using less water, labor and land.

Tips to Make Your Coffee Tastier Without Sugar

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Raise your hands: Do you love coffee? A whole lot of people do. They either drink it first thing when they wake up to get their day going, or they sip cups of joe throughout the day (maybe because they like it, maybe because they need a little energy boost). But to all the naysayers who say coffee isn’t good for you, tell them that research shows otherwise. In fact, coffee may benefit the liver and gall bladder, and it is full of antioxidants.

But what can make coffee unhealthy are the sugary additives that many of us also favor. Sugar can add calories and lead to a host of health conditions such as diabetes and liver disease. If you find plain coffee boring, then perhaps you might want to consider some flavor additions that aren’t sugar focused. What are those? This graphic offers some ideas to start to sip with your coffee.

 

8 Ways to Make Your Coffee Tastier Without Sugar
“8 Ways to Make Your Coffee Tastier Without Sugar” on Health Perch

Syrian Refugees and Water Security

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Water scarcity is a stark reality in the Middle East, the world’s most scarce region. The region is home to 6.3 percent of world’s population but has access to only 1.4 percent of the world’s renewable fresh water.  In the Middle East, refugees from Syria have been resettled in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. Most of the Syrian refugees (more than half a million) have migrated to Jordan in search of safe shelters.

Large-scale influx of Syrian refugees has precipitated a water crisis in many areas which may worsen in the coming years unless the Syrian conflict is resolved. The water shortages are particularly serious in Jordan which is one of the dried countries worldwide and has very limited natural water resources at its disposal.

There have been several cases where refugees in Jordan have been forced to relocate to other countries due to endemic water shortages in overcrowded refugee camps, such as Zaa’tari and Azraq.

Countries like Jordan and Turkey, which hosts a vast majority of Syrian refugees, are experiencing tremendous strain on their limited natural resources such as water and land. As of now, there have been no serious reports of civil unrest against refugees in these countries but local people are becoming frustrated as they have to share meager water and agricultural resources with hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Some of the steps being taken to reduce water shortages include digging of new wells, water conservation awareness programs for refugees, development of wastewater treatment facilities and recycling of wastewater.  As most of the refugees have settled in the more water-rich region of Northern Jordan, the government and NGOs working in the region are trying to implement stronger conservation efforts.

The horrific humanitarian crisis being faced by Syrians leaves neighboring nations, like Jordan and Turkey, no other option except to allow refugees to come in. I think the responsibility for rehabilitation of Syrian refugees lies with world powers who have allowed the situation to deteriorate to the worst possible extent.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

Why Steel Silos are a Better Option for Grain Storage

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The importance of grain to the farmer or cultivator could be likened to the importance of a statue or waxwork to an artist or sculptor. You just cannot afford to let the artistic work go to waste- isn’t it? It’s perseverance implies it’s coming to maximum profitable use. That same way, one cannot stand the idea of the food grains not being stored properly and safely.

The next importance and obvious step is where to preserve the grains?

To be frank, there are a lot many advantages of using the steel silos for grain storage vis-à-vis using the warehouses for storage.

For starters, you’d rather use a vertical storage platform for storage of the food grain as compared to any other.

When it comes to storing the food grains in a warehouse, then it means their storage in a horizontal format.

This key differentiation has it’s own set of importance:

Using steel silos for storage of grains makes way for availability of more ground surface area. The simple reason being vertical storage structures occupy less ground surface. So you can do whatever you wish to with the surface area that’s left.

Cost advantages and economic benefits

Steel silos for grain storage is also a cost-friendly and an economical method.

Wondering how?

Well, the lesser space you take for storage, the lesser rent you pay on account of the slot booked for storage- isn’t it?

Another reason that points to the economies of scale is that when one uses the steel silos for grain storage, one needn’t incur an additional set of costs as what one would in the case of opting to go for a traditional warehouse. It’s pretty simple. In the case of the latter, one needn’t undergo the process of automation of the grain transport equipment.

The assembling costs, when using steel silos vis-à-vis the warehouses is much lesser. So that’s another automatic choice for the farmers and storage experts- isn’t it?

A long-term reliable method

Fundamentally, stainless steel storage containers are also a better solution for storage of the food-grains, from the perspective of long-term reliability.

At the end of the day, the greatest cause of concern in front of a farmer is that of ensuring the safety and sustenance of his produce, which in this case, means the grains.

Not only is the avoidance of plastic and other material such as concrete a better solution in terms of environmental aspect, but also it pays to store the grains in steel silos.

It’s a well-established fact that using silos that are made of the stainless steel material is a big positive for the environment because the material isn’t known to add excess to the degradation. And Rostfrei Steels Pvt. Ltd. is one of the major cost-effective steel silo supplier in industry.

It’s cost effective in the process of manufacturing and at the end of the day, the farmer and producer wants something that can uphold and protect the grains more reliably. That aspect is covered thanks to steel silos being of a higher tensile strength.

And when that aspect is ensured, why would anyone opt for another storage material.

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Salman Zafar