ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Chicken Curry in the Time of COVID-19: The Industry of Bugs and Drugs

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have had its beginnings in China, spreading globally to devastating effect. It subsequently laid bare the underlying vulnerabilities of many previously prosperous and technologically advanced economies and societies. The pandemic has also begun to reveal the curious ways in which microbes and their evolving activities are intrinsically tied to our way of life: from individual consumer habits and damaging environmental practices to the unstable global supply chain and the pathogens prevalent in the food and drug production industry. Microbes, it is evident, do not work alone; they rely on multiple others in a vast network of humans and animals in order to thrive. India’s emerging livestock industry, and especially its booming factory farming sector, is at risk of further compounding the spread of these pathogens and future outbreaks. In this paper, we will discuss key concerns around the relationship between the current pandemic (and potential future ones) and the drug and livestock industry in India and beyond.

Science, Society and Risk in the Anthropocene

The culture of too much hygiene in rapid, unplanned urbanising society with poor infrastructure exposes urban spaces to a particular risk brought about by unchecked use of technology. This article looks at the indiscriminate use of antibiotics and antibacterial consumer products, which form the aetiology for the emergence of new strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria (superbugs) in urban space, especially in waterbodies.

Sustainable Food Production and Consumption

Current methods of food production and consumption are imposing a severe burden on the environment and the constituent natural resources. New production and processing methods driven by biotechnology (genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormones and other growth promoters) affect food safety. Are alternative more sustainable patterns of food production and consumption feasible? The paper examines some consumer initiatives in Asia and in the UK to examine how the consumer as a 'market force' can proactively influence the food industry, thereby making sustainable practices the norm rather than the exception. It also looks at the significance of empowering women, as consumers, with awareness and education on food safety, nutrition and its dependence on sustainable practices to exert a 'pull' on the market. Finally the paper discusses a multi-pronged approach involving, besides consumer pressure, policy changes, regulatory efforts and economic instruments to steer food production and consumption in a more sustainable direction.
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