The primary goal of this course to introduce UW students to India’s environmental policies pertaining to conservation and development. Through lectures, discussions and individual research, students will gain insights about how these policies were developed, put in place, and their outcomes.

This blog site highlights student accomplishments and travel experiences to India.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Controversies surrounding the introduction of Bt Brinjal in India

Monika Leininger, Mariah Strike, and Travis Brammer presented an overview of the controversies surrounding the introduction of genetically modified Brinjal (Egg plant) in India.

One way to increase crop yield is to reduce the losses due to pest infestation and diseases. Growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops is promoted as one of the ways to increase crop yield by minimizing losses.

Disease or pest resistant genes from animals are introduced into commonly grown crops thereby increasing their resistance to pest infestations and hence increasing the yield. One such GM crop that is being considered for introduction in India is Bt Brinjal or eggplant, which could increase crop yield and also help increase profit margins for the farmers.

However, introduction of animal-based genetic material into plants raises strong resistance from various sectors of the population due to a variety of reasons. Opponents of Bt Brinjal or other GM crops warn potential side effects such as allergies in humans, pesticide resistance in plants leading to increased chemical use, loss of biodiversity, damage to non-targeted crops through genetic drift, and ethical issues.

A Review of Human-Wolf Conflicts in India

Event: WY Undergraduate Research Day, Laramie, WY
Date: April 26, 2014

Nathan Newman, Ryan Parker and Cali Woodbury presented an overview of the ongoing human-wolf conflicts in India.

Their research focused on the reasons behind why wolves are leaving their protected habitats and prey on cattle, sheep, and other livestock resulting in human-wolf conflicts.

They also discussed how this conflict poses challenges to the wolf conservation efforts, because of perceived livestock loss, among other reasons, has created intolerance toward the wolf, and they are thus viewed as a threat to animal husbandry. They reviewed several case studies, research papers, and the 1994 EIS on the reintroduction of the grey wolf as part of this research.

Impacts of the invasive weed, Mikania macrantha in southern India

Event: WY Undergraduate Research Day, Laramie, WY
Date: April 26, 2014

Alin Carrillo and BJ Bender presented their research findings on the impacts of an invasive weed on the native plants and animals, and agricultural crops in Southern India.

Mikania macrantha (American rope or mile-a-minute weed) is native to Central and South America, but an invasive species in India’s Western Ghats, a biodiversity hot spot.

This weed out-competes native species by producing seeds at an extremely quick rate and spreads by attaching its seeds to the hair in the coats of animals that pass by this plant as well as through wind dispersal.

Like most invasive species, it prefers disturbed areas, which makes it a threat to riparian areas, road sides, crop fields, and areas of development. This weed has been found to kill entire trees as well as tea and rubber plants, banana, coconut and oil palm trees. Presence of this weed also limits the growth of other more palatable species, which decreases vegetation availability for consumption by the native wildlife of the Western Ghats.