“For sure, the double-edged legacy of the Green Revolution which promoted high external inputs in agriculture must be critiqued. Past mistakes can be rectified at least now.
“However, corrections have to begin upstream by questioning macro-level policies. For example, for half a century, Lankan farmers have had a huge — 90 per cent — state subsidy on chemical fertilisers. This does not encourage thrifty use, yet successive governments have hesitated to fix the massive drain of taxpayer funds.
“Thus, mass kidney failure is more than just a public health emergency or environmental crisis. It is symptomatic of cascading policy failures in land care, water management and farming over decades.”
This is an excerpt from the first of a monthly series of analysis blogs (columns) I will be writing for SciDev.Net in 2014.
Titled “Going upstream for lasting kidney disease remedies“, the first essay looks at the broader implications of a chronic kidney disease that is spreading in India and Sri Lanka for which medical and other researchers still cannot pinpoint a specific cause.
I have been writing and broadcasting about this public health issue for sometime, and have listened (or interviewed) most key players on the Lankan side of the investigation. In this opinion essay, I look at the policy dilemmas and healthcare challenges posed by Chronic Kidney Disease of uncertain aetiology, or CKDu.
I argue: “There are no quick fixes. In searching for solutions, health and environmental activists must rise above their single-issue advocacy positions. They can bring grassroots concerns to national debates. Collaboration – not confrontation or conspiracy theories – is the need of the hour.
“Hijacking a human tragedy for scoring some debating points is not worthy of any true follower of Rachel Carson.”