Friday, 12 February 2016

40 Years of Science: Organic Agriculture Key to Feeding the World

Posted on Feb 5 2016 - 3:51pm by Sustainable Pulse
Washington State University researchers have concluded that feeding a growing global population with sustainability goals in mind is possible. Their review of hundreds of published studies provides evidence that organic farming can produce sufficient yields, be profitable for farmers, protect and improve the environment and be safer for farm workers.
The review study, “Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century,” is featured as the cover story for the February issue of the journal Nature Plants and was authored by John Reganold, WSU regents professor of soil science and agroecology, and doctoral candidate Jonathan Wachter.
It is the first study to analyze 40 years of science comparing organic and conventional agriculture across the four goals of sustainability identified by the National Academy of Sciences: productivity, economics, environment and community well being.
“Hundreds of scientific studies now show that organic ag should play a role in feeding the world” said lead author Reganold. “Thirty years ago, there were just a couple handfuls of studies comparing organic agriculture with conventional. In the last 15 years, these kinds of studies have skyrocketed.”
Organic production accounts for one percent of global agricultural land, despite rapid growth in the last two decades.
Critics have long argued that organic agriculture is inefficient, requiring more land to yield the same amount of food. The review paper describes cases where organic yields can be higher than conventional farming methods.
“In severe drought conditions, which are expected to increase with climate change, organic farms have the potential to produce high yields because of the higher water-holding capacity of organically farmed soils,” Reganold said.
However, even when yields may be lower, organic agriculture is more profitable for farmers because consumers are willing to pay more. Higher prices can be justified as a way to compensate farmers for providing ecosystem services and avoiding environmental damage or external costs.
Numerous studies in the review also prove the environmental benefits of organic production. Overall, organic farms tend to store more soil carbon, have better soil quality and reduce soil erosion. Organic agriculture creates less soil and water pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s more energy efficient because it doesn’t rely on synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
It is also associated with greater biodiversity of plants, animals, insects and microbes as well as genetic diversity. Biodiversity increases the services that nature provides, like pollination, and improves the ability of farming systems to adapt to changing conditions.
Reganold said that feeding the world is not only a matter of yield but also requires examining food waste and the distribution of food.
“If you look at calorie production per capita we’re producing more than enough food for 7 billion people now, but we waste 30 to 40 percent of it,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of producing enough, but making agriculture environmentally friendly and making sure that food gets to those who need it.”
Reganold and Wachter suggest that no single type of farming can feed the world. Rather, what’s needed is a balance of systems, “a blend of organic and other innovative farming systems, including agroforestry, integrated farming, conservation agriculture, mixed crop/livestock and still undiscovered systems.”
Reganold and Wachter recommend policy changes to address the barriers that hinder the expansion of organic agriculture. Such hurdles include the costs of transitioning to organic certification, lack of access to labor and markets and lack of appropriate infrastructure for storing and transporting food. Legal and financial tools are necessary to encourage the adoption of innovative, sustainable farming practices.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Maharishi about Himalayas

"Himalayas will always remain Himalayas. They will always be on the top of the world.
There are about 100 Purusha practicing Transcendental Meditation and living Purusha life of absolute brahmacharya. They are gaining command over Prakriti. Prakriti is the daivi shakti, which functions for the individual as the individual Purusha value inside - witnessing value, self-referral value ? and so the Purusha value increases in daily life. Himalayas will always be guiding light of purity, of affluence, of gaining authority in Nature.
Uttarkashi has been a place where Guru Dev has been, and Guru Dev’s Guru Dev has been. It’s a fountainhead of Pure Knowledge. One cannot sing the glory of the Himalayas enough. Throughout the ages the Vedic literature is full of the glory of the Himalayas: Uttarkashi, Gangotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Rishikesh. A beautiful, beautiful fortune of the people takes them on pilgrimage- year after year thousands and thousands of people and they have a glimpse. They go there to breathe a few breaths of peace and happiness and satisfaction, and they rise in atma gyan, in brahma gyan.
It’s a very fortunate thing to be going to the Himalayas from time to time. It’s a different world. One cannot describe in words.
यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते Yato vacho nivartante: tad dharma parama mama: ‘This is my abode’, says the Lord, ‘from where speech returns.’
Sahasrakshara parame vyoman: ‘Transcendental is that field.’
शिवं शान्तमद्वैतं चतुर्थं मन्यन्ते स आत्मा सविज्ञेय Shivam shântam advaitam chaturtham manyante, sa âtmâ, sa vigyeyah: ‘That is the Self, that is the atma, which is absolute silence, Shivatva, which is the source of all dynamism.’
It’s a very complete culture of life for the supreme state of evolution: brahmi chetana, Unity Consciousness.
Something that is real to life is housed in the Himalayan heights - peace eternal. And peace eternal is the basis of all possible dynamism in human awareness. That is why the concept is, Yogasthah kuru karmani: ‘Established in Yog, established in Unity Consciousness, perform action.’ It’s a beautiful philosophy, a total philosophy of practical life.
We are building in different parts of the Himalayas for the busy people of the world to go for some time there and refresh their soul, refresh their intellect, refresh their mind, so that their speech and behaviour will be the guiding light to human existence.
It’s very beautiful: Himalayas means Heaven."
-- Maharishi, 17 October 2002

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Solar Powered Acoustic Device Protecting Crops (And Animals) - Energy Matters

Solar Powered Acoustic Device Protecting Crops (And Animals) - Energy Matters

Our organic gardens here in the ashram are precious to us, but they are also a source of fascination for a large troupe of langur monkey who live in the jungle around us, and they often do raids. Slingshots haven't proved effective, and they also could be harmful for these charming visitors, so this acoustic device powered by solar energy could useful to us as well as farmers all around India.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Over 1500 yoga asanas shortlisted to thwart patenting by foreign parties

Aug 9, 2015

The government decided to form the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, after the bitter experience of some MNCs claiming patents for neem and turmeric in the last two decades.

Apart from trained yoga teachers, a team of AYUSH doctors would scrutinise the applications for a medical history and status to decide whether to allow them to attend the yoga sessions or not. -

In a move that will help thwart attempts by foreign MNCs and individuals to get patents and trademark on ancient yoga techniques, the government has shortlisted over 1500 asanas and videographed over 250, classifying them as “traditional knowledge” of the country.

The initiative will be a part of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), a unit of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Technology, which challenges claims made at several patent offices across the globe by individuals and MNCs.

“Our experts have identified over 1500 yoga techniques from the literature available from our ancient texts and what is available now.

Nearly 250 asanas have been video graphed already.

It should take five or six months to complete the process, after which it can be the part of the database.

“Once that happens, any attempt to claim patent on the Indian yoga techniques practiced since ancient time can be thwarted,” said Archana Sharma, head of TKDL.

It has been observed that several patents have been issued in the West for various yoga techniques. Many have copyright on those. The government decided to form the TKDL, after the bitter experience of some MNCs claiming patents for neem and turmeric in the last two decades.

Getting a patent issued to a US MNC revoked for turmeric, alone cost over a million dollars in legal expenses, travel and other costs.

Following this, it was decided to form TKDL. Today its database has over 2.93 lakh medicines, their properties indicating that those have been traditionally used for cure in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha systems.

The information is also present in Spanish, German, English, Japanese and French languages.

The database is shared with the European Patent Office (EPO), United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), German Patent Office (GPO), Intellectual Property Australia (IPA), Japanese Patent Office (JPO) and Chile Patent Office (CPO) under a “non-disclosure” pact.

“So, every time when any individual or any MNC files for patent, the major patent offices refer to the TKDL base. On our part, a team is constantly monitoring the patents that are being filed. So, we also file pre-grant opposition. There have been cases when the patent applications were crossed checked with the TKDL database and queries were raised. Following that the applicants withdrew their claims.

“Since 2009, TKDL has thwarted over 200 claims,” said Sharma. Over the past one month, India has thwarted two attempts at patenting Indian traditional medicines, which again included turmeric.

Last month Europe’s Leading Dermaceutical Laboratory – Pangaea Laboratories Limited’s attempt to take patent on a medicinal composition containing turmeric, pine bark and green tea for treating hair loss was foiled.

The same month, India thwarted another attempt by Colgate-Palmolive Company to patent a mouthwash formula containing herb (Nutmeg- Jayaphal) extract used in Indian traditional systems of medicine to cure oral diseases, at European Patent office