Friday, May 18, 2018

Did you know the leopards mean no harm to humans - now it is the job of the media to correct misconceptions


Living with Leopards – Vidya Athreya – BMICH – 6pm 17th May 2018

The take away from the lecture: “Live & Let Live” – love your leopards, do what you can to educate people to be wary, but think of leopards as good luck living in your neighborhood. Leopards keep away from human contact and do not kill humans

Vidya has been engaged in the study of leopards in various places in India. Interestingly, most leopards in India live WITHIN human habitation in India. She estimates that there are 14,000 leopards in India and we estimate about 1,000 who live in Sri Lanka. Both are educated guesses with a degree of error.

She showed examples, by catching and collaring, the ranges of leopards, which can be substantial, and if caught and relocated, they tend to return to their previous range, implying that relocation is NOT the answer to remove leopards. Further she showed that whenever a leopard is removed from a particular area, another takes its place due to the maximum that can be contained in an area.

So we come full circle, into a society that simply must and does learn to live with the leopards in their midst. If people revere the Leopard as they do in some communities, where the word Waghoba is used for a cat like deity and hence Vidya used that for her website that goes further in explaining this. See below:

She believed that the Indian experience of her study of the habits, and food of the urban leopard, Sri Lanka will be better able to understand this animal in the wild and be able to live with this species in harmony, especially as their habitat is being encroached by the humans, who are trying to chase away or somehow get rid of the leopard threat. We then come up with the who came first theory.

http://www.projectwaghoba.in/leopard_article.htm This link is worth reading as it is clear that leopards are part of the very fabric of Indian life and their place is recognized and there is no project to capture and send them to National Parks. She used the Giri Tiger story to say that though the National Park is only 2,000 sq km. the Tigers range is 10,000 sq km, well into the range of human existence.

With regard to what they eat, it was pointed out that more dogs are taken than farm animals, possibly because they are safeguarded against leopard attack, whereas dogs are leashed outside homes and easy prey for the big cat. Camera traps show the nighttime prowling of the leopard, due to the fact that it only even attempted wander into human settlements long after people had gone to sleep, around 9pm to 5am when essentially people are asleep.

Translating this experience into the Sri Lankan concept

She used the example that in years past, people did not go on safari, to see wild animals. It was therefore not a particular need to preserve species by creating Parks, for visitors to lose themselves in, and be guaranteed of seeing the big cats. She pointed to an example of an urban place in Mumbai, where people could go in the evening to see the lions, as they are used to humans and both keep their distance, and nothing happens, just a tourist destination, outside of a park.

In National Parks, leopard and lion and even tiger get used to the people, and so take a careless attitude to vehicles and people as they know they will not be harmed in anyway and so mingle amongst people, not hiding from them. It is sometimes easier to see them in this semi domesticated mode, which takes away from the excitement of seeing an animal in the wild.

In India where only 5% of the land is a protected area, it is impossible to have the very high percentage of wild animals they actually have, confined to protected areas as there is not enough space therefore them. So most of the big cats live with the people, both parties keeping their distance from each other. She said that even at Independence in 1947, the Indian Population was large, and despite it  they have such a high concentration of animals is proof that people respect these animals and give them the space in their neighborhood. They then try to protect their livestock from attack and when they are attacked have a different attitude about them, than one would have expected.

SO with the prevalence of Leopard sightings in the up country Tea Growing areas it is time for us, first, NOT TO FEAR THE LEOPARD in our midst. Learn about its behavior and its relative shyness where it sits put in the forest during the day time and only comes out at night to forage for food. If they fear a leopard close by, then they should merely beat a drum, before going on tea plucking rounds and the leopard if it is there will retreat.

There are NO instances of dens being found in the property, so the litters are kept safely away from human settlements. It is only when there is a den inside a tea plantation that one should be a little more careful, as the mother would be more wary of humans getting close to their cubs.

Of course she made sure she said that the Media plays an important role in ensuring that the people are assured that leopards are harmful and not get into a leopard being a threat, as is being reported, putting the fear of the animal. IF the people in affected areas are calmed and explained in detail, then gradually the leopard future amongst humans can be assured leading to an increase in animals.

Other

We saw film clips of cougars in North America through camera traps that showed they were sensitive to human sound. They just disappear at the sound of humans and re-appear when the coast is clear to hunt. So this issue is not just a threat in India it happens even in places like the USA where animals come into contact with Humans and ransack garbage cans emerging from wooded areas. Even there the people have learned to respect their space, and do not engage in massive get rid protests, but instead try to benefit financially from promoting tourism in these areas with the knowledge that one could encounter an animal.

There should be a cache of living with wild animals attached to you, which gains street cred. So in order for rural populations to have some status, using the fact that animals live in your presence should be an attraction and NOT a deterrent.

The most surprising point that was made at the lecture was that one of the highest densities of leopards are in the most dense of human habitation of suburbs of Mumbai where millions of people live.

Increasing human encroachment results in pressures by NIMBYS who want to rid the place of wild animals. We must first ask the question, who was there first? Why should we remove the original inhabitants and replace them with humans? For whose benefit? And What benefit? When one seriously considers the diminishing population of wild animals and endangered species, awareness of diversity must be inculcated in the community at large, and then steps can be taken to use scientific methods to protect and regenerate species.

We were told how the British looked at animals as hunting trophies and to be killed, while Indians throughout history looked at living in harmony with them and the spirituality of this life, meant that many animals were deified and so animal slaughter was rare. So even poaching for food, is a rare occurrence out of necessity rather than an occupation itself. This has led in India for action to preserve wild life that has shown a lot of success. 

In fact that Asiatic Lion which now only resides in India is increasing in population as is the Indian Tiger, these are success stories for us in Sri Lanka to learn from and in order to prevent further destruction of the habitat, we must get the local communities involved in saving their animals, in particular the leopard and elephant and learn to manage this animal to minimize crop and livestock loss, using more sophisticated techniques of monitoring.

When an animal is trapped we try to save it, and release it back into the wild, so why don’t we use the same sense of respect to allow them to live in their space?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ricardo Hausmann’s talk on acquiring know how, yesterday @ LKISS



Frankly I was caught flat footed in trying to second guess what he meant by acquiring know how, when it was so obvious, and had to use enough and more examples all the way from history to prove his point. He had just got off the plane and did most of this thinking about what he wanted to say on the plane.

He has been advising the SL Government for 3 years now and laughingly explained our trysts with the IMF when we face a balance of payments crisis, and then once it is back on track, we let loose again with a massive spending craze to win an election and that results in another balance of payments crisis, resulting in another IMF bailout and so on for all these years and he illustrated this with a series of graphs, to make his point.

Then he mentioned that many centuries ago the Dutch had the highest GNP per capita and the Country with the lowest was only one quarter of that. He then said as of today, if in current purchasing power parity, which is the way to measure GNP per capita, Burundi was at the bottom at US$800, then by multiplying by two each time he showed different Countries with Singapore in the peak with US$80,000, implying that the average Singaporean has 100 times the purchasing power of the average Burundian with Sri Lanka about a tenth of that of Singapore!

The details of the lecture is adequately covered in today's FT, with the link below, which quotes verbatim what he said, so there is no point in my regurgitating that, and so I am merely putting down my thoughts and recommendations here below to add to what he said if we are to encourage our population to "RISE FROM THEIR STUPOR"


If they are to remain in their stupor, then lets do nothing, and we will conveniently disappear if present policies are followed in about 50 years, and perhaps be enslaved by the more enterprising Chinese, instead. SO SHOULD I HAVE SAID AT THE SUBJECT LINE OF THE POST - 

" IF WE ARE TO BE FREE OF CHINESE ENSLAVEMENT, THEN WE HAVE ONLY ONE CHOICE, OPEN THE BORDERS TO ALL, NOT JUST THE CHINESE WHO ARE FORCIBLY COMING IN, AND WE HAVE NO POWER TO STOP IT, NO MATTER WHAT WE DO!"

Then came the crunch – He showed how many foreign born people there were to each local person in Countries. In Singapore he said for every 2.2 locals there is a foreign born person in the economy. In Sri Lanka’s case it was in the regions of one for every 600, and hey presto that was the reason we are wallowing in our own self-pity.

The Controller of Immigration, Mr MN Ranasinghe was in the front row and was asked the pointed question, about what he is doing about it. HE then went on for a few minutes explaining the new thinking and the suggestions he has sent to the Legal Draughtsman on an Act, a New Immigration Act to supersede or override the only Act that is currently valid, something enacted in 1948, that is effectively irrelevant in this Globalized World.

He is NOT talking about a clear cut change and practical suggestions of a foreigners’ path to Sri Lankan citizenship, he was ONLY talking about people getting visas, permitted to work under certain conditions, under a particular visa category. THAT IS CLEARLY THE WRONG WAY TO GO.

We still live under the false belief that we should make it difficult to acquire Sri Lankan citizenship, when we should actually make it very easy.
Recommendation
  
Facts, There are 3M people of Sri Lankan origin who have acquired foreign citizenship, for whom Dual Citizenship system at Rs300K a pop and various forms to fill and conditions to be met will allow to be granted. These 3M people have another 6M people who are dependents born overseas, who under current laws have NO rights to acquire Sri Lankan nationality however hard they tried and want it, even if they come and live here for the rest of their lives.

Every year 50,000 people with Sri Lanka passports also acquire foreign citizenship, but only 5,000 per annum acquire dual nationality. Firstly, we must permit, them with a one-time fee of US$1,000 to AUTOMATICALLY get dual nationality NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

Then in a Country which permits our citizens to go overseas, live and qualify for other nations nationality, as easy as Apple Pie, we should allow foreign citizens to take employment after may be fulfilling certain conditions, of constant employment, certain levels of taxation paid, to a path to Sri Lanka citizenship within 10 years.

If we had allowed this 10 years ago, we have now ended the war 9 years ago this week! We would be already in a situation of double our GNP per head purely due to the efficiency, entrepreneurship and dedication of these new budding citizens to their adopted homeland. Don’t our leaders get it? It is as simple as that.

They then would have forced, a less corrupt culture, where meritocracy reins and the old guard with fossilized opinions (and corruption in their blood) would have been left screaming while being led away feet first.

They would have found ways of filling the vacancies, by training our existing workforce, and allowing our best and brightest a chance if improvement in their own country, without having to leave in droves for a better life with more opportunity as this opportunity will be available to them at home. We would NOT have had an exodus of companies out of Sri Lanka for lack of competitive labor, and the chance of hiring competent management to lead the workforce, as there is a severe dearth of experienced, honest, qualified managers to run companies on behalf of investors, either local or foreign in Sri Lanka.

If you want examples, just look at the hospitality trade, where even General Managers who are NOT past their prime are so hard to find. Companies have to resort to importing people at higher than normal rates just to fill this after going through immigration hoops that add to the cost, such as the wife cannot work!

So need I go any further in this debate? Professor Ricardo Kaufmann was most clear about this glaring VOID in the development debate, as they have studied all other reasons, and have come to the conclusion that unless we have a catalyst such as this desperate need for the right skills, we cannot have lift off, let alone make a yard of progress.

The island mentality of fear of foreigners, even amongst the intelligentsia like the doctors who are striking now, is part of this same problem of fear of the unknown. He smiled and that ETCA should be concern for Singaporeans not Sri Lankans, as if our professionals are so good as we make them out to be, they will want to go there and compete, and no one will want to come here and compete, unless in skills that are not available.

After all we have a severe shortage of certain specialties in the medical field, such as Cardiac Surgeons that Indian Surgeons come for a short time such as a month and do all the surgeries lined up for them in a private hospital! Why can’t they be allowed to practice, subject to clarification of the acceptability of their qualifications.

This holds true for the IT industry, as it has not grown in the way it should, perhaps because there are certain skill sets for growth that are not available in Sri Lanka and they could be attracted by more liberal immigration policies.

He then used examples to say how much more the Country’s own economy will grow, because of the ability of these immigrants to build and expand businesses, create employment and create skill sets for local people who are now leaving for overseas employment to obtain the skill sets.

He did say that Diaspora tapping is also a very important part of this where India has successfully tapped this in Bangalore and Hyderabad, where Foreigners of Indian Origin have been attracted back to build businesses using the Indian location, employees, sometimes to export product and services to the countries of residence of those Indians and he was sure that there were many Sri Lankans living overseas, who would be interested in investing in Sri Lanka, to use their knowledge to find markets overseas.

This reminds me of a Sri Lankan I know from Arizona who came to invest in Sri Lanka, with many millions and he was given the run around, trying to prevent his foreign born wife or girl-friend from helping him out in the business venture, and then being screwed by various Sri Lankan scam artists who took advantage of his good will. This man was so disgusted with the lack of ethics in business and the corruption at all levels, that meant his 4 year investment took 10 years to come to fruition and the resulting loss he had to endure.

You tube link for the whole lecture:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KijHmai-c8


Monday, May 14, 2018

Have you faced rolling power cuts? Coal / LNG/ Short Term Energy Shortfall - What Next?


As usual no one is thinking rationally, they are all backing their corner ignoring the reality, looming energy shortfall – Coal / Power Requirements

Let me begin by saying I am against Coal in principle, knowing what we do now about the harmful effects on the environment not just for us in Sri Lanka, but also to those who have to deal with the sediment/dust and pollution resulting from it and it could be India and South East Asia that suffer, for that matter.

Similarly we do know the harm caused to Sri Lanka from Coal Fired Plants in India, but as we don’t have resources allocated to study this fact, we are unable to explain to our citizens the human and environmental toll to Sri Lanka resulting from Coal Fired Plants in India.

So all we have are anecdotal evidence of the harm that Norochchalai has done to the people who live around the area, when strict safety and pollution standards are not adhered to. See link below;


Then look at the contribution to our Grid from Coal yesterday, 13th May 2018 - 54.56% http://www.ceb.lk/yesterday-electricity/ If you click on the link, you will only get the percentage of the previous day, and so it will not be the same as yesterday!

Now if we did not have Lakvijaya, where would be? I know the anti-coal lobby will say, we would have already gone into alternative and renewable sources. I say BULL SHIT, it was not on the cards at that time. I however say that had it been done long before it finally came on stream, using the original Japanese Technology, the pollution would have been less, and we would have had it in operation 10 years ahead, and the cost to the people would have been less. We know the huge commissions and corruption that has taken place in getting a second rate Chinese product instead! To say nothing of the breakdowns.

Then came the argument about the need for a second Coal Plant in Sampur and there was a huge hue and cry against it, and it was dumped in favor of a LNG, less polluting non – renewable energy plant in Sampur instead, which has still got to get off the ground, due to other intervening implementation delays.

I am a friend of the environmentalist Ranil Senanayake and at that time he told me about the possible damage to Sri Maha Bodhi from the Sampur Project, knowing the way the wind blows, this was many years back. Now with the same issue at Norochcholai he has conveniently done the same with this pollution, see below. Why?


Only because our people don’t take any notice when there is a problem, until their limited focus, gets rattled by some threat to their belief system, hard wired into their heads, with no other real understanding of what it means. So for Buddhists, any threat to the Sri Maha Bodhi is like a personal attack on them. Ranil was smart enough to use that which attracts publicity in this desperate race for people’s and law makers’ attention. Frankly I am surprised he did not use this before, but yesterday, it attracted interest and gained traction, tripping up the Coal Lobby in their quest for another plant before it is too late.

Interestingly, the President, due to advice from his traitors around him, likely with a personal interest, has reopened the Coal debate, when people thought it had been firmly shut, by NOT excluding Coal from his instructions to the PUC in looking into new power plants.


I believe Ranil Senanayake snookered that interest with this proclamation, as he definitely has no ulterior motive, other than the need to return Sri Lanka into a place where we can live, without fear that we are being poisoned, by water, food or air we breathe, as simple as that. Currently of course are heading for disaster.

The following is a link to a very comprehensive article on the matter, and is worth reading if you are interested in being abreast of the energy debate.


However, today’s FT has another news item that the Ministry of Power is in negotiation to build THREE LNG plants from different countries.


Whatever the pros and cons, we have to have an inter related plan that urgently addresses HOW TO PRACTICALLY MEET THE POWER DEMAND OF THE NEXT 10 YEARS, as there is no clear plan, due to delayed decision making, and have a long term view that ONLY renewable energy is the way forward, and the technology is being used in other countries, so we merely need to engage and set up, perhaps in the ocean outside our waters if it is feasible. IN the short term my dear readers, WE HAVE A PROBLEM in meeting the demand, and to that extent we must encourage as many households by giving free solar panels to reduce pressure on the grid by being energy independent.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Unemployed Graduates - a farcical exercise of interviews at districts, with no clear objective to fulfill a promise - ALL MUSH


Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs – Unemployed Graduates Interviews


According to decision taken by the Government to call all unemployed graduates for training, or positions as Development Officers, ads have been put in the papers and interviews have been held between 16th and 30th April and even those who did not go for them can contact their respective district’s District Secretaries for interview. The ads are too vague and deceptive    

In this website is a list of all Unemployed Graduates by District in English where some are in Bold capitals and others in regular format. It is very badly prepared and not vetted for accuracy either as in the Gampaha district, no 3571 and 3572 is the same person! Surely don’t we have a public service that knows better than to eliminate duplicates? Then we have Gampaha no 3586 on the same page, born in 1971 in the unemployed graduates list! Why? Is this a rough list that is full of inaccuracies? Then looking at it is a waste of time and don’t have a body who can correct this and only post on the Ministry website accurate information?

WHAT A WASTE OF PUBLIC MONEY AND TIME – list full of errors

In the same Ministry website is new item from the Department of Census and Statistics that there are 500,000 job vacancies, see link below:


In addition to all this, all the ministers and MPs are submitting lists from their constituencies of people who they recommend for employment on the grounds that they are party supporters and the like, to show that they are doing something for their own longtime backers and their families.

Upon investigating these lists from Electorates a further anomaly arises, as it is with names of people who live outside the Electorate, so they have somehow for other reasons managed to get their names through a particular MP, despite their residence being elsewhere. More importantly, for the offered, non-permanent employment contract for 2 years, which with a change of government can be immediately cancelled, at a payment of Rs20K, only a fraction in the lists will take the jobs if offered to them, making a mockery of this process, and a HUGE WASTE OF TIME, where those who really need assistance don’t get any help and as a politically motivated window dressing exercise, positions are created ADDING to the PUBLIC SERVANT CARDER!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Who wants to die?


The Morality of Assisted Suicide – The clamor will increase – steps to consider

This subject coming hot on the heels of the recent assisted suicide of Dr David Goodall 104 in a Clininc in Liestal, near Basel in Switzerland, is now being discussed amongst people, and there are differing views on the rights and wrongs of it.

So what do we have to consider? 

I am merely referring to the issues, not comprehensive, that should be taken into consideration, when determining if the Country should change their laws to permit this form of death. Third link (below) is about the fact that Spain has now as a first step permitted an open debate about this topic, leading to a vote on whether or not to permit it, and if so with what restrictions, and conditions?

1                The consent of the person who wants to die? We need to consider his state of health and the likely reason he has come to that decision. This is very subjective. In Dr Goodall’s case he had worked till he was 102, had attempted suicide a few times and failed, and he was confined to a wheelchair and had made the conscious decision, as a man of SOUND MIND, to end his life this way, rather than living a few more years in a manner his mind considered as being torturous.

2             Even if one is of sound mind, who plays God, in saying he is reasonable or not reasonable, in making this request? After all if the person was much younger and of sound mind, but with only minor handicaps to living, should he be allowed, if he wants to die?

3           What about those who have left a request for assisted suicide, but at the point it is considered he is in no sensible way, able to make this decision, due either to the fact that the person has say, Alzheimer’s. Or is a vegetable kept on life support, with no one willing to pull the plug, while the cost of medical attention soars!

4        How about the situation when someone suffers severe depression, has attempted suicide many times and failed, and is a suicide risk, should one wait for the suicide to succeed, or assist that person in killing himself, when nothing other than his mental faculties want death?

5             The moral argument can also be made that in certain countries and in this case one could argue places like Australia fall into this category, where there is no family support, because all have flown the coop, and is up to the state to take care of the person in an elders home. This can lead to depression due to loneliness that could only change if he was able to live with his family. Then it is circumstances that led him to want assisted suicide, and if those changed, he too would change his mind. Can it be used as a threat to his family to come to and take him back to live with them?

6                Who determines if someone’s illness is terminal and if he wants a quick exit by assisted suicide, when he could live in an acceptable manner for many years, albeit on medication and sedation etc.?

7        Do we force living relatives to concur with this request, as a necessary condition for permission to go through with it? What if no family member wants to allow it, despite the desire of the intended?

8            In order to prevent abuse of the system, should one have a minimum age when this is permitted, like 80, and with reasons, other than infirmity and difficulty in getting about?

9            As you can see granting this permission, assuming there is a law in the land that permits assisted suicide, is fraught with danger, as each case has to be looked into in their own merit, and each circumstance can differ. So is it up to the person to choose to want to die, no matter what if they reach a certain age? If someone else's permission is ALSO needed then it is tantamount to playing God, meaning that person or persons other than the intended, have the decision in their power to permit or not?

It was brave of Dr Godall to go public and give this subject maximum publicity, and I know there was a film crew with him during this episode and his death will result in a documentary that will be sold to TV stations and a lot of money will be made.

How it was to be divided I don’t know and if some was promised by the TV documentary makers, to the heirs of the good Doctor, or if he stipulated some charities to be helped, by stipulated amounts, then that is not a relevant point in discussing the issue. 

It was part and parcel of this newsworthy world that some news has value and there are stakeholders who can share the value, and that is how and why it received pre-publicity to maximize profit, once this aired, to the channel and others who purchase the rights.

At the same time I wonder, if his family was able to give him unconditional love and be with all the time with personal attention, as 5 of his grandchildren live in UK, France, USA and Australia, then his desire may have been different and his death wish mitigated, until it came naturally.

In looking at him, despite his age and infirmity, it did not seem to me that he was seriously suffering, as he was able to engage in very coherent and deep conversations with people on matters of importance, where he had lost none of his mental faculties. So then in this case the choice was HIS ALONE and he was therefore allowed to go to a country that allows this, to go kill himself.

Ironically, he was given a lever to let the lethal dose to enter his veins, but was not strong enough to use it, and it was changed to a switch which he was able to turn to let the medication flow into his body. What if you can’t do either?  




So let’s say there is a law and it requires only the intended to sign the consent and no one else. He signs it, but he is determined to be of sound mind,  with physical ailments that are NOT life threatening. What if the family appeal to the courts to prevent him from carrying out his request, can a judge then make an order against the law, and prevent it?

That is assuming of course he does not have a funds to go to Switzerland, sign the form and kill himself. So if he had the funds, he was able to do what he wanted to despite his family objections, then that should be the same rule if he did not have the means to go to a Country which permits it, if he so wishes, and no one can prevent a sane adult to go anywhere and get this done! This proposed law in your own country is therefore aimed at the less well off, who cannot all trundle to Switzerland to die. (like we all want a death certificate issued in Switzerland for posterity! What posterity when you die?

We can make an educated guess that Dr Goodall would have at most lived another 2 to 3 years at most, before he would have passed away naturally, and it was because of his ability to fund and I was told that it was crowd funded to raise the US$20,000 required for all the costs, that he was able to go to a Country from Australia where he had lived most of his life, to end his life.

So Moral and Ethical issues come out of this and there is no easy answer as one would say it all depends. You cannot have a law that leaves too much in the hands of that kind of rationale. It has to be clear cut, black and white, and not open to either ABUSE or OVERUSE leading to moral decay of a nation that allows people to end their lives, if they are not happy, quickly, like getting a quickie divorce!

Of course when new laws are introduced in such sensitive issues, like in abortion, there can be restrictions, to minimize the population that can ask for and be assisted in this way to end their lives, leaving open the option to people who society, normally considers should be permitted to stop their intense suffering and on the assumption that in normal circumstances only have a few years to live anyway. Depression should not normally be one of the reasons, as that is open to abuse and clinical opinion of what is severe and what is not.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Desperate Need for Quality Assurance – We need labs to test - Harmful Drugs & Agricultural Inputs



With the current Glyphosate argument in full swing, and the importation of substandard drugs with impunity for profit, that our people are forced to take as a necessity, unless there is an acceptable regimen of testing in place, we cannot opine one way or another if the cure is worse than the disease!

So for example if the disease is CKDU and the cure is the banning of Glyphosate, then unless we have means to test alternatives – we may be killing our citizens by this ban, (because people use worse alternatives that will kill them in less time) all thanks to unscientific heretics like Ven Rathana Thero and the likes of self-serving professors, like Channa Jayasumana, of Rajarata University, an expert in CKDU (who now thinks he is an expert on Glyphosate, without it being tested for its constituent parts)

He is one of the youngest tenured professors in Sri Lanka, whom I admired at one time, but am now convinced, he has put his academic credentials aside, to follow a questionable political agenda in making asinine statements against the use of glyphosate, (and pontificating) that could arguably warrant a traitor tag attached to this man, as the consequence of those acting on his edicts may result in hastening death!

As ONE example of what I wish to have answers to and no one seems to be able to provide me with one, I would hesitate to say that MSG coming under the trade name AJINOMOTO which is used as a food supplement in many eateries, unknown to us to make awful food taste better, is also now used as a Weedicide in very high concentrations by farmers, who swear to me it works. (by the way, I don't believe we need a lab for this issue, as the literature is rife and needs to be studied and acted upon)

So I am appalled that we are eating this weedicide and no one is commenting on this with a louder voice than Glyphosate, which further convinces me of the credentials of the GMOA, working on a political agenda, and who should ONLY concentrate on the Public Health of the people who live in Sri Lanka, to improve their general health. Time they do something to earn respect.

However, as the most powerful trade union, I must surmise that all they do, will increase the patients who wish to avail themselves of their services, NOT, as I would wish, to PREVENT disease, Communicable and Non-Communicable in the public at large. Surely this should be the overall goal of all of us who have a duty to do our utmost to Communicate, nutritional best practice, health best practice, behavioral best practice, to inform and change practice in society to lower their propensity for requiring medical attention, PERIOD, with no ifs and buts!

Surprise, surprise they don’t want us to do that as they will lose their lucrative patients that keep them in clover, at the expense of the poor, who are shifted from pillar to post by the arrogant GMOA membership, who think they are owed a living when in fact they owe us a living, for getting a free education, for which if they paid their cost of Rs15M, would behave more rationally/sensibly. 

IN getting back to the main theme of my essay, I show a link below to an recent article which if read is self-explanatory that highlights the crying need for testing facilities, so we are better informed and armed to make decisions in the best interests of our citizens.


A REMINDER OF THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG – TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF ALL THOSE WHO LIVE IN THIS ISLE

It would therefore be a better subject for the GMOA if they want to have any credibility with the public to pursue this need, surely there are spots for their bright members who wish to do research and get involved with testing if these labs are set up!

The link above only talked about medicinal drugs that the National Medical Drugs Regulatory Authority (NMDRA) was not up to the mark to do a proper job in this regulation. I would add that the testing be done of all imported and locally manufactured, weedicides, herbicides and the like to the same standard as medicinal drugs as they are also indirectly ingested by humans. They can both be given the same level of priority.

What is the role of the Government? We tend to forget this in all this CHAFFF

It is to protect its citizens from harm, surely!

If so profiteers, of which Sri Lanka is awash, will tend to exploit a situation for their benefit, when the Government abrogates from this obligation and instead spend their time splitting hairs in the Diyawanna with the Opposition, neither of whom seem to care ONE IOTA for the people, as made obvious, by this lack of control in these critical areas that affect public health.

SUMMARY

The time has come for us to abolish about 10 or more unnecessary Ministries that do JACK SHIT and instead have ONE ministry which overseas and recommends to our people crying out for expert advice, on what is best for them to eat, what medicines is best for them to take, what lifestyle practices it is best for them to adopt. 

Their (the ministry, its departments and the bodies working under it) agenda is promoting a healthy population, so they have the right to admonish overuse of harmful practices, be it eating betal, smoking, taking drugs, alcohol, and work in tandem with the Ministry of the Environment, arguably the most important ministry in the land, to ensure that the public have clean water to drink, clean food to eat, and clean air to breathe. 

NONE OF WHICH is being done presently, despite the proliferation of ministries that have been set up that don’t cover any of the above essentials for life, let alone quality of life for the people who live in Sri Lanka. Is there an alternative?

PS The Ministry of Health has its hand full in managing Hospitals and Clinics. They have a massive task to ensure this is done most efficiently and cost effectively, for the benefit of the patients, so don't add this to their brief, it needs to be handled separately as I have outlined above with reasons why. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Glyphosate debate revisited – my opinion


Our Country, that does not understand the word "proportionate", has lead to all our problems, because the relative merits, overuse, misuse and alternative options are not considered in making decisions. If you want to know what I mean from personal experience read on:

In order for the interested reader on the subject, I have noted links at the end, so that one can make an educated judgment on one’s own feelings about this topic. I don't intend to instill my opinion, only for you to make an educated assessment.

I am speaking from my experience only as a farmer in Rajarata, who both has to depend on existing farming inputs for survival, and is also facing the time bomb of CKDU, where many of my neighbors have already succumbed to it.

HOWEVER we have yet to find a specific reason as to why this disease is so prevalent in ISOLATED spots throughout the Country, when Glyphosate has been used fairly indiscriminately throughout the Country, in proportions I believe to be more than necessary. Do other people’s run off also settle here in the isolated spots?

In order to set aside the CKDU debate as being something far more serious than Glyphosate alone, which the former MAYBE has SOME contribution, but not the main reason, I don’t wish to dwell on this, as the jury is still out on this matter, and far more compelling reasons OTHER than Glyphosate can be more critical.

I know there are some specialists in the field of Kidney Disease who believe Glyphosate to be the main cause, they have yet to propose alternatives that are less harmful in mitigating the agricultural reasons for the use of Glyphosate. That is of course if the alternative of using NOTHING instead is their proposed solution! Then they may as well ask us all to eat cake instead!

SO WHERE DO I STAND ON THIS SUBJECT HAVING GIVEN CREDENCE TO ALL THAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN BELOW IN ADDITION TO THE LINKS SHOWN BELOW?

Speaking from experience, I can honestly say that in my 14 years of farming in the Rajarata, farmers have beliefs that are incompatible with reason, and they have not been persuaded to change their ways due to poor communication by the State Actors, namely the Agricultural Extension Officers, who are unable to get into the farmers minds, being people who don’t take their subject seriously, and only work for a salary and security being unsackable lazy government servants. (of course there are exceptions like my neighborhood advisor who covers the Rotawewa circuit)

So I have always used less than half the allotted fertilizer for paddy plantation with no reduction in yield. So during MR’s administration, which was giving fertilizer at Rs350 a bag of 50kg, farmers were OVER USING this on their land, as too much was given per acre as subsidy. With the money saved on fertilizer, they were then OVER SPRAYING their fields with pesticides and herbicides to kill weeds, as they thought wrongly that using more than the recommended doses was better! And worse, they were not wearing protective clothing to ensure this spray was not (a) being inhaled by them and (b) sprayed on to their body, entering the bloodstream through the skin.

Conclusion

I have NO DOUBT that those who overused have CONTAMINATED their soil, making it highly toxic. If they ONLY eat rice from THEIR land, they are MORE THAN LIKELY to contract CKDU and experts, “that has NOTHING to do with GLYPHOSATE PER SE" and banning this ALONE does not make any sense

RIGHT OR WRONG?

Isn’t it clear from my simplistic, but logical analysis, based on personal experience, that using ANYTHING MORE THAN of a reasonable dosage is going to be harmful, whatever it may be? 

The answer then is proportional use, should be explained and etched in the mind.

Secondly, GLYPHOSATE HAS NOT BEEN COMPLETELY BANNED IN ANY OTHER COUNTRY. We must test the potency of the glyphosates imported to Sri Lanka. It may contain untested substances the Brand ROUND UP does not contain, and therefore ADD to the toxicity of local Glyphosate.

Further, Glyphosate substitutes have NOT had as stringent a testing procedure and we may have imported FARM MORE DANGEROUS alternatives that will ADD to the problem, by banning this, than we would solve. The Ven Rathana Thero please take note of this when you rabidly believe that banning Glyphosate is sufficient to resolve a far greater problem of misuse, overuse, and use of substances, that have not undergone adequate testing.

As for, Glyphosate residues found in our Tea, we need to separately evaluate why, is it poor spraying practice, overuse, or misuse, and resolve this, as other tea producing countries use Glyphosate for the same problem and don’t seem to have this residue we do, so it is not Glyphosate per se, just how our Tea Industry operates, in adding it to the plants, soil, and tea making processes. 

For example is there a minimum period from spraying to plucking? Rainfall can wash off spray, but when sprayed on wet leaves, that when dried in the tea making process, is bound to leave residue that eventually gets picked up. SO it is the application that is at fault and perhaps not the product.

I trust this analysis points to a SENSIBLE COMPROMISE, not rabid war of opinion.


Extensively researched background information for interested parties

The passionate debate has got be resolved, instead of a merry – go – round!

It is time we stop calling each other names and instead realize that it is the future of this Country that we are talking about, and that all stakeholders have a claim in this future and we need to resolve it in an adult way, instead of going into the Media, Social and Mainstream and resorting to threat and innuendo of the worst kind to stake each side’s case.

So what are we talking about? The Glyphosate Debate, as it relates to CKDU, Agriculture, Tea and Rubber Industries, the GMOA stance, the Government Edicts – first one and another contradicting the first one and so on.

We have the GMOA and the Rev Rathana Thero and the Environmental Lobby, who want it banned, period.

We have the Tea Industry which is a traditional export earner, with greater potential for growth, due to the advent of China into purchasing Ceylon Tea, that can increase foreign exchange earnings by many-fold. They are now suffering from a severe labor shortage, not having planned for this, with better replanting, to use tools for plucking, and other means at weed control.

So let me put some of the links I have searched on this subject for transparency







http://www.silumina.lk/2017/05/13/සල්පිල/මගේ-තේ-වගාවට-නම්-ග්ලයිෆොසෙට්-ඕනෙ-නැහැ

Niral Wijesundera Please correct me if I am wrong, But I believe this weedicide was used for decades in the plantation sector. But no prevalence of CKDU was reported in the Central Hills or or in the South where Tea and Rubber is a major crop. The effect of this chemical came into light after the increased number of CKDU cases in the North Central province which primarily a agricultural region. I doubt the report of the committee appointed to report on the CKDU in that region concluded that Glyphoate is the culprit???. Then what is the next step. This is a question which effect the whole nation. One hand its the economy and the other the health of the people.

All stakeholders The plantation Ministry, Health Ministry, Professors of the Faculty of medicine, Faculty of Chemistry, Plantation companies sit together and provide an answer to this crucial issue. Just holdng protests and 'wildcat' strikes will not resolve the issue. GMOA should act more responsibly

Ranga Weerakkody Glyphosate came in to use after the ban on Paraquat, a notoriously toxic weedicide and it's 100% mortality after poisoning. Its use is limites to about 20 years. CKDu predates it.

However new evidence shows CKDu is a toxic nephropathy and the pathological findings are similar to that of cyclosporine toxicity (a drug used in kidney transplants). There are many weedicides or their metabolites that mimick cyclosporine. It may not be glyphosate, but most likely to be a weedicide. The research is underway to find causes.


Amila Goonewardena Joseph Senal Fernando . Following the sequence of events. There is no scientific proof to say 100% it is because of this . If that is the case . Detergents , mosquito coils , sprays of so many types for many purposes , service stations , Hospitals and factory waste that flows in to water ways in the whole Country have a effect. Including people burning leaves in neighborhoods , loud speakers that eat your brain , Senal there are so many that effects the human body. Where are we , Is this Country on the correct track no. How ever no dought there is a effect but the hidden agenda is politics , There is some moron who wants to object things all the time for reasons best known to them for personal benifit . By the way for your information I have lived in Anuradhapura for five long years thank god nothing has happened to me so far.

Niral Wijesundera Sri Lanka's glyphosate ban cost Rs35bn in crop losses: farm managers
May 02, 2018


ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's tea farm managers say a ban on the popular weedicide glyphosate without using scientific evidence, which ended after the intervention of plantation minister, has caused crop losses of 25 billion rupees over two years.

The Planters' Association of Ceylon, which is made up of managers of large commercial tea, rubber and coconut farming companies said an estimated 15 billion rupees of crop was lost in 2015 due to the glyphosate ban, and 20 billion rupees in 2017.

Plantations Minister Navin Dissanayake played a key role "amidst a great deal of opposition" to overturn the glyphosate ban, the association said.

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena banned glyphosate fearing it was causing chronic kidney disease after some researchers published an interesting paper linking glyphosate with the disease, which is prevalent in hot rice growing regions of the island in particular.

“At least now we can begin the difficult but necessary work to reverse the serious damage done to our estates as a result of the ban," Chairman of Planters’ Association, Sunil Poholiyadde said.

"In that regard, we are encouraged that even at this late stage, that policy makers were willing to listen to reason…"

The study which suggested that glyphosate was linked to heavy metal leaching into water was published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, an open access journal whose publisher, MDPI, is controversial.

No animal studies were done to prove the theory.

"According to the prevailing Buddhist philosophical values within the country, no animal models were used in the current study," the researchers said.

Glyphosate is very popular, due to lack of firm evidence that it is harmful, but its wide use has caused concern.

The ban triggered smuggling in Sri Lanka as it is freely available in neighboring countries. At the moment only few countries have restrictions on the use of glyphosate and there are fears that alternatives could be more harmful.

Ranga Weerakkody  Although many people claim a direct link between CKDU and glyphosate has not been found. Maintain a ban on flimsy evidence is wrong.

However, there are allegations about the constituents of glyphosate preparations, with additives which are much more toxic than glyphosate itself. To make the matters worse, it is said SL formulations contain cheaper, toxic additives than European ones, and some times, some of the constituents not declared. All the safety data has been done using US or European formulations.

Hence two eminent scientists Prof. Saroj Jayasinghe and Dr. Chula Herath have called to maintain the ban on precautionary principle.

SL's ban on Glyphosate could have led to 'catastrophic consequences' for Ceylon Tea claims CTTA

Don’t make lifting Glyphosate Ban Permanent

TRI up with Glyphosate substitute by end of 2018

Anti Glyphosate Lobby to meet Prez and PM

Glyphosate Substitute the need

Sri Lanka’s Glyphosate Ban cost Rs35B in crop losses

Rathana Thero condemns lifting Glyphosate Ban

Tea records highest concentration of Glyphosate – US Research