Does ‘No Pesticide’ Reduce Suicides?

  1. Lakshmi Vijayakumar

    1. SNEHA and Voluntary Health Services, Adyar, Chennai, India,
  1. R. Satheesh-Babu

    1. Mamata Medical College, Khammam, India


Introduction: Ingestion of pesticides is the most common method of suicide, particularly in China, Sri Lanka and India. Reported pesticide suicides in India numbered 22,000 in the year 2006.z

Method: Four villages in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India that had stopped using chemical pesticides in favour of non-pesticide management (NPM) were visited to assess any change in suicide incidence before and after discontinuation of chemical pesticides. Four similar villages in the same region that continued to use chemical pesticides were used as controls for comparison.

Results: In the pesticide-free villages there were 14 suicides before introduction of NPM and only three suicides thereafter. The percentage of suicides not reported to authorities was 47%.

Conclusion: Restriction of pesticide availability and accessibility by NPM has the potential to reduce pesticide suicides, in addition to psychosocial and health interventions.

New farming practices can increase yields and lower pollution in China, Stanford study shows

An integrated approach to managing soil and crops could help meet the demand of rapidly rising population while reducing greenhouse gases that drive climate change.

Hector Garcia/Creative Commonswheat fields in Guangxi, ChinaA new study compares current farming practices in China for staple crops including wheat to alternative approaches that can increase yield and lower environmental damage.

Farming practices in China could be designed to simultaneously improve yields and reduce environmental damages substantially, according to a new study by Stanford biology Professor Peter Vitousek and a team of his colleagues at China Agricultural University.

The research paper, published in Nature,compared current farming practices for staple crops corn, wheat and rice in Eastern and Southern China to three alternative approaches:

  • Incremental improvements of the current method, aimed at boosting crop growth and improving environmental quality
  • A yield-maximizing approach with no regard to either financial or environmental cost
  • An integrated soil-crop system management” (ISSM) approach that used crop models to redesign the production system

The integrated soil-crop system approach aims to tailor decisions like crop selection, planting, sowing and nutrient management to each field’s conditions in order both to enhance yields and to minimize environmental damage.

Nitrogen fertilizer is used extensively in modern agriculture – and nowhere more than in China. Overall, Chinese farmers overuse fertilizer, with much of it ultimately polluting the air and water and contributing to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year. The production and transport of fertilizer also contributes significantly to agriculture’s share of greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

In total, the team tested the four farming methods in 153 site-years of experiments between 2009 and 2012 in widely distributed sites within China’s regions of intensive agriculture. Of the four methods, the yield-maximizing approach produced the highest yields of corn, wheat and rice. Yields from ISSM treatment were a close second, reaching 97 to 99 percent of the levels seen in yield-maximizing fields. Crops grown in the ISSM approach also required much less fertilizer, and used it much more efficiently, resulting in nearly no wasted nitrogen and significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is exciting work, because the joint challenges of increasing agricultural yields and reducing the environmental costs of agriculture are particularly stark in China – which has less farmland than the United States, a population that’s four times greater and really horrendous levels of air and water pollution,” Vitousek said. “If we can combine much higher yields with much lower environmental consequences in China, there is real hope that those challenges can be met around the world. It’s globally significant that agricultural science in China is meeting these challenges in fundamental ways, and it’s a pleasure to collaborate with our colleagues there.”

The authors predict that if farmers can reach even 80 percent of the yields seen in the study’s ISSM test fields by 2030 (when China’s human population is expected to reach its peak) on the same amount of land that Chinese farmers cultivated in 2012, grain production could then meet demand for both human and animal consumption.

This would help ensure food security in China and make China’s role in global food markets more deliberate and predictable. At the same time, nitrogen losses could be cut by nearly half, thereby saving many lives, and total greenhouse gas emission could fall by one quarter. Moreover, the ISSM approach could be applied in other areas of the world, where it would boost global yields of major grain crops on existing farmland, while simultaneously reducing nitrogen use, greenhouse gas emissions and economic costs to farmers.

Vitousek is the Clifford G. Morrison Professor in Population and Resource Studies in the Department of Biology and is a faculty affiliate of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford. He also is a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and is a professor, by courtesy, in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science, School of Earth Sciences.

Media Contact

Peter Vitousek, Biology:, (650) 725-1866

Dan Stober, Stanford News Service: (650) 721-6965,

Link between insecticides and collapse of honey bee colonies strengthened

Date:May 9, 2014 Source:Harvard School of Public Health

Two widely used neonicotinoids — a class of insecticide — appear to significantly harm honey bee colonies over the winter, particularly during colder winters, according to researchers. The study replicated a 2012 finding from the same research group that found a link between imidacloprid and Colony Collapse Disorder, in which bees abandon their hives over the winter and eventually die. The new study found low doses of a second neonicotinoid, clothianidin, had the same negative effect.

Two widely used neonicotinoids — a class of insecticide — appear to significantly harm honey bee colonies over the winter, particularly during colder winters, according to a new study.
Credit: © Dmytro Smaglov / Fotolia

Two widely used neonicotinoids — a class of insecticide — appear to significantly harm honey bee colonies over the winter, particularly during colder winters, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The study replicated a 2012 finding from the same research group that found a link between low doses of imidacloprid and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which bees abandon their hives over the winter and eventually die. The new study also found that low doses of a second neonicotinoid, clothianidin, had the same negative effect.

Further, although other studies have suggested that CCD-related mortality in honey bee colonies may come from bees’ reduced resistance to mites or parasites as a result of exposure to pesticides, the new study found that bees in the hives exhibiting CCD had almost identical levels of pathogen infestation as a group of control hives, most of which survived the winter. This finding suggests that the neonicotinoids are causing some other kind of biological mechanism in bees that in turn leads to CCD.

The study appears online May 9, 2014 in the Bulletin of Insectology.

“We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering CCD in honey bee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter,” said lead author Chensheng (Alex) Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology at HSPH.

Since 2006, there have been significant losses of honey bees from CCD. Pinpointing the cause is crucial to mitigating this problem since bees are prime pollinators of roughly one-third of all crops worldwide. Experts have considered a number of possible causes, including pathogen infestation, beekeeping practices, and pesticide exposure. Recent findings, including a 2012 study by Lu and colleagues, suggest that CCD is related specifically to neonicotinoids, which may impair bees’ neurological functions. Imidacloprid and clothianidin both belong to this group.

Lu and his co-authors from the Worcester County Beekeepers Association studied the health of 18 bee colonies in three locations in central Massachusetts from October 2012 through April 2013. At each location, the researchers separated six colonies into three groups — one treated with imidacloprid, one with clothianidin, and one untreated.

There was a steady decline in the size of all the bee colonies through the beginning of winter — typical among hives during the colder months in New England. Beginning in January 2013, bee populations in the control colonies began to increase as expected, but populations in the neonicotinoid-treated hives continued to decline. By April 2013, 6 out of 12 of the neonicotinoid-treated colonies were lost, with abandoned hives that are typical of CCD. Only one of the control colonies was lost — thousands of dead bees were found inside the hive — with what appeared to be symptoms of a common intestinal parasite called Nosema ceranae.

While the 12 pesticide-treated hives in the current study experienced a 50% CCD mortality rate, the authors noted that, in their 2012 study, bees in pesticide-treated hives had a much higher CCD mortality rate — 94%. That earlier bee die-off occurred during the particularly cold and prolonged winter of 2010-2011 in central Massachusetts, leading the authors to speculate that colder temperatures, in combination with neonicotinoids, may play a role in the severity of CCD.

“Although we have demonstrated the validity of the association between neonicotinoids and CCD in this study, future research could help elucidate the biological mechanism that is responsible for linking sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposures to CCD,” said Lu. “Hopefully we can reverse the continuing trend of honey bee loss.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Chensheng Lu, Kenneth M. Warchol, Richard A. Callahan. Sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids impaired honey bees winterization before proceeding to colony collapse disorder. Bulletin of Insectology, May 9, 2014

Effect of Different Nutrient Management Options on Rice under System Method of Cultivation – A review

Author(s): P. Sri Rajitha and K.I. Reddy | International Journal of Plant, Animal and Environmental Sciences | January – March 2014

Rice (Oryza sativa (L.)) is one of the most important stable food crops in the world. In Asia, more than two billion people are getting 60-70 per cent of their energy requirement from rice and its derived products. In India, rice occupies an area of 44 million hectare with an average production of 90 million tonnes with productivity of 2.0 tonnes per hectare. Demand for rice is growing every year and it is estimated that in 2010 and 2025 AD the requirement would be 100 and 140 million tonnes respectively. To sustain present food self-sufficiency and to meet future food requirements, India has to increase its rice productivity by 3 per cent per annum [21]. Rice cultivation requires large quantity of water and for producing one kg rice, about 3000 – 5000 litres of water depending on the different rice cultivation methods such as transplanted rice, direct sown rice (wet seeded), alternate wetting and drying method (AWD), system of rice intensification (SRI) and aerobic rice. Owing to increasing water scarcity, a shifting trend towards less water demanding crops against rice is noticed in most part of the India and this warrants alternate methods of rice cultivation that aims at higher water and crop productivity. There are evidences that cultivation of rice through system of rice intensification (SRI) can increase rice yields by two to three fold compared to current yield levels.

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Low Economic Efficiency of Irrigation Water Resource in Krishna Western Delta of Andhra Pradesh Demanding Water Management Interventions

Low Economic Efficiency of Irrigation Water Resource in Krishna Western Delta of Andhra Pradesh Demanding Water Management Interventions
Author(s): Dr. A. Siva Sankar, Dr. B. Ravindra Reddy and N. Nirmal Ravi Kumar, Journal of International Academic Research for Multidisciplinary | February 2014

The story of food security in the 21st century in India is likely to be closely linked to the story of water security. Today, the water resource is under severe threat. The past experiences in India indicated inappropriate management of irrigation has led to severe problems. Considering the importance of irrigation water resource efficiency, Krishna Western Delta (KWD) of Andhra Pradesh was purposively selected for this in depth study, as the farming community in this area are severely affected due to severe soil salinity and water logging problems and hence, adoption of different water saving crop production technologies deserve special mention. It is quite disappointing that, canals, tube wells and filter points and other wells could not contribute much to the irrigated area in KWD. Due to fewer contributions from these sources, the net area irrigated also showed declining growth at a rate of –3.98 per cent. Chilly is the most profitable crop cultivated in KWD. Regarding paddy, it was highest for System of Rice Intensification (SRI) technology (1.16) than semi-dry and transplanted technologies. The reduction in irrigation cost in SRI and semi-dry paddy production technologies is significant, as indicated by the decline to a tune of 45 and 55 percents respectively over transplanted technology. This clearly indicates that, by less water usage, paddy returns can be boosted by adopting SRI and semi-dry production technologies. Both the system-level and field-level interventions should be addressed to solve the issues / problems of water management. The environment in the State of Andhra Pradesh in general and in KWD in particular, with reference to the execution of water management aspects is congenial for planning various technological interventions. The enabling environment, institutional roles and functions and management instruments are posing favourable picture for executing the water management interventions in KWD. This facilitates the farming community to harvest good crop per unit of water resource used in the production programme.

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Rhythms of the herd: Long term dynamics in seed choice by Indian farmers

Glenn Davis Stone,  Andrew Flachs,

Scholars in many disciplines have approached the question of how humans combine environmental learning (or empirical assessments) and social learning (or emulation) in choosing technologies. As both a consumer item and the subject of local indigenous knowledge, commercial crop seeds provide a valuable window into these processes. Previous research on seed choices by cotton farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India, uncovered short-term seed fads, or herding, indicating agricultural deskilling in which environmental

learning had broken down. Unknown was if the faddism (and the underlying deskilling) would continue or even be exacerbated by the spread of genetically modified seeds. Data covering 11 years of seed choices in the same sample villages are now available; we
combine analysis of this unusual data set with ethnographic observation. We find that herding has continued and intensified. We also find an unexpected emergent pattern of cyclical fads; these resemble classic models of successive innovation adoption where
periodicity is introduced from outside the system, but we argue that it periodicity is actually generated by an internal dynamic.

Myths and realities of Gujarat Agriculture: various articles

2013 agril growth 2013 agril output


  1. Agriculture_in_a_High_Growth_State_Case_of_Gujarat_1960_to_2006
  2. Agriculture_in_Gujarat gujaratEconomic_Liberalisation_and_Indian_Agriculture_A_Statewise_Analysis
  3. Growth_and_Structural_Change_in_the_Economy_of_Gujarat_19702000
  4. Labour_and_Employment_in_Gujarat
  5. Labour_and_Employment_under_Globalisation_The_Case_of_Gujarat
  6. Modis_Gujarat_and_Its_Little_Illusions
  7. Regional_Sources_of_Growth_Acceleration_in_India
  8. Gujarat’s_agricultural_growth_story_IRAP_2010
  9. Gujarats_Growth_Story
  10. Secret_of_Gujarats_Agrarian_Miracle_after_2000
  11. Sources_of_Economic_Growth_and_Acceleration_in_Gujarat
  12. Temporal_and_Spatial_Variations_in_Agricultural_Growth_and_Its_Determinants

Pesticides ‘making bees smaller’

Bumblebees exposed to a widely-used pesticide produced workers with lower body mass, scientists

Bumblebees could be shrinking because of exposure to a widely-used pesticide, a study suggests.
Bumblebees could be shrinking because of exposure to a widely-used pesticide, a study suggests. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA

Bumblebees could be shrinking because of exposure to a widely-used pesticide, a study suggests.

Experts fear smaller bees will be less effective at foraging for nectar and carrying out their vital task of distributing pollen.

Scientists in the UK conducted laboratory tests which showed how a pyrethroid pesticide stunted the growth of worker bumblebee larvae, causing them to hatch out reduced in size.

Gemma Baron, one of the researchers from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “We already know that larger bumblebees are more effective at foraging.

“Our result, revealing that this pesticide causes bees to hatch out at a smaller size, is of concern as the size of workers produced in the field is likely to be a key component of colony success, with smaller bees being less efficient at collecting nectar and pollen from flowers.”

Pyrethroid pesticides are commonly used on flowering crops to prevent insect damage.

The study, the first to examine the pesticides’ impact across the entire lifecycle of bumblebees, tracked the growth of bee colonies over a four month period.

Researchers exposed half the bees to a pyrethroid while monitoring the size of the colonies as well as weighing individual insects on micro-scales.

They found that worker bees from colonies affected by the pesticides over a prolonged period grew less and were significantly smaller than unexposed bees.

Findings from the study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc), appear in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Professor Mark Brown, who led the Royal Holloway group, said: “Bumblebees are essential to our food chain so it’s critical we understand how wild bees might be impacted by the chemicals we are putting into the environment.

“We know we have to protect plants from insect damage but we need to find a balance and ensure we are not harming our bees in the process.”

Currently a Europe-wide moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides is in force because of their alleged harmful effect on bees.

As a result, the use of other types of pesticide, including pyrethroids, is likely to increase, say the researchers.

Dr Nigel Raine, another member of the Royal Holloway team who will be speaking at this week’s national Bee Health Conference in London, said: “Our work provides a significant step forward in understanding the detrimental impact of pesticides other than neonicotinoids on wild bees.

“Further studies using colonies placed in the field are essential to understand the full impacts, and conducting such studies needs to be a priority for scientists and governments.”

The scientists sprayed the pesticide on the bees’ pollen feed at the concentration recommended for oilseed rape.

Colony growth and reproductive output were monitored for up to 14 weeks.

The Trials of Genetically Modified Food: BT EGGPLANT AND AYURVEDIC MEDICINE IN INDIA

Chithprabha Kudlu
Washington University
Glenn Davis Stone
Washington University
Although planting of genetically modified (GM) crops has topped 148 million ha.
worldwide, direct consumption of GM foods remains extremely rare. The obstacles to GM
foods are highly varied and they can provide windows into important cultural dynamics.
India’s heated controversy over its would-be first GM food—Bt brinjal (eggplant)—is
driven not only by common concerns over testing and corporate control of food, but by
its clash with the Ayurvedic medical establishment. GM brinjal may outcross with wild
relatives commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, and claims that outcrossing would not
affect medical efficacy miss the point. Ayurveda emphasizes polyherbal treatments and
has developed an epistemology oriented towards complex combinations of compounds.
As such it does not recognize the authority of specific studies of transgene effects. The
conflict is not with genetic modification per se, but with the reductionism that is central
to the biotechnology approvals process. This opposition has played a significant role in
the government moratorium on the plant.
Keywords: biotechnology, genetically modified food, Ayurveda, India, regulation