“In a significant move to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. government agreed to support a controversial proposal to waive intellectual property rights for vaccines and increase global supplies of desperately needed doses.”
Source: FD (Dutch Financial Times)
Germany has a large number of legal claims to do with the diesel emission claims scandal. In May 2020, Germany’s highest civil court ruled that buyers were entitled to reimbursement of the purchase price, minus a deduction for use of the car.
Some consumers felt that this did not go far enough and wanted full compensation with interest. One of these consumers is a woman who purchased a Seat Ibiza for €21,000. She filed a case with the court in Erfurt.
Judge Martin Borowsky decided to ask the EU’s Court of Justice for advice. Would full compensation be in line with EU legislation? He also wants the EU court to assess the independence of German courts (because of the links between the Ministries of Justice of the various German states and their courts).
The EU court has not started to look into the matter yet.
However, the claimant’s car dealership has meanwhile decided to refund the woman’s purchase price, with interest, and is also willing to pay her court fees. The woman accepted this reimbursement with interest. The Seat dealer hoped that this meant that the legal proceedings could be closed.
However, Judge Borowsky has now ruled that the case cannot be closed. The claimant did accept the dealer’s refund, but also decided to proceed with the case. The judge feels that the dealership is crossing the line towards rights abuse and that there are still legal questions needing to be ruled on.
Previously, German lawyers had already said that Volkswagen, Seat’s parent company, appears to be doing what it can to stop the matter from ending up in the EU Court of Justice. One of Volkswagen’s approaches is to compensate complainants generously.
In 2019, Volkswagen tried to have Judge Borowsky removed from the matter because it considered the judge prejudiced.
It almost reads like a Grisham novel.
DEFRA currently has a consultation called “the regulation of genetic technologies”. Post-Brexit adaptations or not? Will we drop the phrase “even if their genetic change(s) could have been produced through traditional breeding” or not?
Post-Brexit, animal welfare protections are being abandoned. We can’t let that continue unbridled. This consultation is not just about animals, however. It is also about agriculture, bacteria and foodstuffs.
If you want to weigh in, you have up to 17 March, 1 minute before midnight. It will take you some time and you’d better have a bunch of references and links to data ready.
It consists of two parts, that is, the actual consultation is Part 1. You can come back to Part 2 later after you’ve completed Part 1. I have been working on Part 1 so far.
When I downloaded the 14-page document that goes with this gene editing consultation, I spotted several problems. There is a pretence of an emphasis on science and there is at least one or one half paragraph that has nothing to do with genetic technologies (obfuscation).
The document starts as follows:
“Building back greener is integral to creating a healthier, more resilient world for future generations and the Prime Minister has highlighted the need to take a more scientifically credible approach to regulation to help us meet some of the biggest challenges we face.”
This is the document’s fourth paragraph:
“While GE is unlikely to be able to address all these complex challenges, a whole range of innovative approaches could help us make progress over time. These could include increasing agro-ecological approaches for land management, the use of robotics and artificial intelligence, vertical farming, and the development of undervalued protein sources.“
The part in blue has nothing to do with gene editing. So why throw it in? The first sentence seems to suggest that there may not even be a need for gene editing. What is the purpose of this paragraph? To obfuscate?
On page 5 it says:
“Our position follows the science, which says that the safety of an organism is dependent on its characteristics and use rather than on how it was produced.”
That, with all due respect, sounds like pretentious nonsense. No references are given, no scientists are mentioned, no agencies or universities are named.
Anyone wishing to take part in this consultation, however, is supposed to provide evidence and literature references and the consultation is clearly not intended to draw the public’s opinion.
Also on page 5 of the consultation document, DEFRA mentions that Japan, Brazil, Australia and Argentina take a different position than the EU and there is the suggestion that the EU’s view is flawed.
“Now the transition period has ended, retained EU law requires that all GE organisms are classified as GMOs irrespective of whether they could be produced by traditional breeding methods. This was confirmed by a Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgment in 20181. This is not consistent with the position taken by most countries who have reviewed their respective regulations like Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Japan, which have concluded that certain GEOs should not be regulated as GMOs.”
There is also a 2-page Gene Editing Explainer, which tells the public what to think, again without providing any literature references or links.
(Only Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire is mentioned in it. Wikipedia says:
“previously known as the Rothamsted Experimental Station and then the Institute of Arable Crops Research” “one of the oldest agricultural research institutions in the world, having been founded in 1843”. It is located on the campus of “Rothamsted Enterprises”. I assume that it is comparable to some of the departments of Wageningen University and Research. I am unfamiliar with it, had never heard of it before.)
I am a little disgusted with the approach taken by DEFRA here. I have taken part in DEFRA consultations before, when that particular PM mentioned at the start of the document was not PM yet. I may not often agree with DEFRA, but DEFRA’s consultations did not use to annoy me. This one does.
It is a political document, isn’t it?
I may be way off, but I hear the PM’s voice in the background and I sense the assumption that the public at large does not have the capability to understand the science and/or that the public is not well informed enough to be able to contribute to this consultation.
(Note that research in Germany showed that providing more information did not make the public more accepting of the use of genetic technologies; link below. These kinds of studies are not my field of expertise and there may be plenty of studies that found the opposite. But if that were the case, then why did DEFRA provide so little information?)
Below are my two cents, so far. Also biased, namely skewed toward caution, and written off the cuff.
In my opinion, organisms developed using genetic technologies such as gene editing (GE) must continue to be regulated as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) even if their genetic change(s) could have been produced through traditional breeding.
- Genetic technologies can have side effects that are not necessarily instantly clear. An example could be that the changes that Dr He introduced in a pair of human twins in China to make them immune to HIV could also have resulted in “off-target” changes and scientists are largely still in the dark about this. (Natural breeding does not have the potential for unintended changes that CRISPR still has.)
- The application of genetic technologies may also impact animal welfare differently than when their genetic change(s) are produced through traditional breeding.
Regarding the question as to the risk associated with the application, the problem is that we cannot predict what we don’t know yet.
If you look back into history, you can see that in the past, we’ve often hailed as great progress what we later ended up banning.
- We gave a Nobel Prize in medicine for the development of DDT. It almost eradicated the American bald eagle and that is only one aspect of its many side effects. DDT causes nerve damage and affects the hormone-producing systems of many animals, among other things lowering their fertility. In the United States, it was the environmentalist and marine biologist Rachel Carson’s work that eventually led to a ban on DDT and other pesticides.
- We didn’t even foresee the blatantly obvious consequences of insecticides, namely that their use would affect pollination as well as bird populations.
- Should I mention thalidomide? DES? That ibuprofen may affect male fertility?
- Many people are pushing to have other harmful pesticides banned, such as glyphosate and chlorpyrifos. That isn’t because they’re afraid of progress. It’s because these substances are not as harmless as we thought.
- When I was still based in the Netherlands and a board member of the Environmental Chemistry (and Toxicology) Section of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society, our section organised a symposium on brominated flame retardants. They were already being found in tissues of animals in the Arctic. Did we see any of that coming? No, we did not. Subsequently, there was a push to phase them out in favour of others that turned out to have similar problems.
- Did we expect to do damage to the ozone layer when we introduced CFCs?
- Should I mention PFAS? (You may want to look into the situation in the Netherlands, where PFAS in soil have caused major upheaval because the Dutch want very little of it in their soils and the stuff is everywhere. When permitted levels were lowered, construction ground to a halt all over the country.) But we all thought that non-stick coatings (also called Teflon, PTFE, polytetrafluorethylene etc) were the greatest thing since sliced bread. People with pet birds started noticing disastrous effects. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFAO), also known as C8, dissolves well in water and does not decay. It is now globally present in the air and in seawater. In the Netherlands, discharges by the Chemours plant in Dordrecht led to increased PFOA concentrations in the Merwede river and in the groundwater along its banks. In the U.S., a former DuPont plant in West Virginia released more than 1.7 million pounds of C8 into the region’s water, soil and air between 1951 and 2003. C8 was phased out after a class-action lawsuit that alleged that it causes cancer. Chemours now makes a new compound called GenX instead, for which safety thresholds have yet to be established. Regular water treatment methods don’t remove it from drinking water. GenX may be safer than C8, but it is also alleged to have caused tumours and reproductive problems in lab animals.
None of what I just wrote has anything to do with the use of genetic technologies. My point is that we never know with 100% certainty that all forms of progress are safe and we have missed the blatantly obvious in the past. This uncertainty also goes for genetic technologies.
I also think that dropping “even if their genetic change(s) could have been produced through traditional breeding” would likely make the regulation harder to apply. It would have companies trying to find all sorts of shortcuts (to “prove” that the effect of the technology they used could also have been produced through natural breeding). It might lead to frustrating discussions and costly legal proceedings. It might even lead to more campaigning, protests, etc.
(I did not look into how Japan, Brazil, Argentina and the United States handle these matters.)
There might well be effects on trade as well. German consumers for example traditionally have put great emphasis on ensuring that their food is as “clean” as possible.
“The consumers who are more accepting of genetic modifications are younger, less educated and less concerned about their nutrition. The average effect of our provided information is negligible. However, the initially less opposed become slightly more opposed. Our results thus do not support the view that a lack of information drives consumer attitudes. Instead, attitudes seem to mostly reflect fundamental preferences.”
Many of the questions and the choices for answers in the DEFRA consultation survey are blatantly biased and it is quite clear that DEFRA would like to see the phrase “even if their genetic change(s) could have been produced through traditional breeding” dropped.
Am I being too critical? I don’t think so.
See also for example these two articles:
https://angelinasouren.com/2018/12/11/an-opinion/ by Cecile Janssens, professor at Emory University. A quote: “Most DNA mutations do nothing else other than cause the disease, but DNA variations may play a role in many diseases and traits. Take variations in the MC1R “red hair” gene, which not only increases the chance that your child will have red hair, but also increases their risk of skin cancer. Or variations in the OCA2 and HERC2 “eye color” genes that are also associated with the risk of various cancers, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. To be sure, these are statistical associations, reported in the scientific literature, some may be confirmed; others may not. But the message is clear: Editing DNA variations for “desirable” traits may have adverse consequences, including many that scientists don’t know about yet.“
So, what exactly is the science that DEFRA claims to be following? It is not this kind of science.
It is too soon to abandon caution.
12 March 2021
Here is the PDF with my response:
I expected Part 2 to take as long as Part 1 – I imagine that the start of Part 2 is the point at which many give up – but it did not. And in essence, it was a repeat of Part 1.
Yesterday, I bought socks at Primark.
When I tried to remove some sellotape from the packaging, so that I could recycle it, I discovered that the glossy cardboard packaging had a detachable plastic film on it to make the packaging look “matte”.
My microwave finally gave up the ghost a few days ago. There had been one or two earlier occasions when it was using energy but not heating food, so it was no big surprise.
The first thing I did was go online and look for a new one. Old habits die hard. It is very tempting to run out and get for example a new shiny red one right away as I rely pretty heavily on my microwave (and a red or black microwave is prettier than a white one). I very rarely use a stove or oven.
But this one had come from someone else’s kitchen remodelling project, and served me well for years. I’d bought the one before that new, and it did not last long at all.
So, operating from a non-consumerist point of view, I was hoping to find another one that was getting tossed out or already got tossed out during a kitchen renovation. Those microwaves often still work fine but as they usually have no legs and their looks may be a bit less appealing, most people probably don’t want them. They’d look a bit odd in a shiny new kitchen, granted.
So I went on freecycle, posted my request and crossed my fingers. I received three offers! I only needed one – which was very kindly dropped off, too – so that means that two other local people whose microwaves are about to break down will be in luck.
There is still so much stuff sitting around unused in people’s sheds, basements and attics. It means that something else does not actually have to be bought yet, with the various environmental burdens that purchase would entail.
I wrote an article about it on LinkedIn. If you’re interested, you can find it, and you don’t need me to post the link here. Southampton can’t do anything as drastic as this. Bournemouth can’t. Chichester can’t. London can’t. But Portsmouth can.
And Portsmouth can turn this into a giant plus and use it to boost the economy, but it won’t. Because it is drowning in crap such as bullying and corruption, also at city council level, and likes seeing itself as the powerless whining underdog a little bit too much. There is very little true vision left in this town, where too much of the focus is on traditional capitalism and on the past. The industries of the past are GONE, folks. Quit waffling about that and move forward.
Here are a few links to supporting studies:
- “Designing suburbs to cut car use closes gaps in health and wealth”, by Jerome N Rachele, Australian Catholic University; Aislinn Healy, Australian Catholic University; Jim Sallis, University of California, San Diego, and Takemi Sugiyama, Australian Catholic University
- More business, more tourism, less pollution:
- Also highly relevant is the fact that young people are often trapped in car dependency:
Get them out of that for fuck’s sake. A free tram line could presumably help a lot!
- And then there is this: 😉
- And this:
- As well as this TED Talk (TedX Southampton):
All I hear is stupid excuses.
No space for trams. Sure there is!
- The people with more than 2 cars will protest and shout very loudly. Wear ear plugs! (What about the 80 or 90% or 95% of the rest of your population? 70% have no car or only 1 car. Many of Portsmouth’s inhabitants hardly ever get out of Portsmouth.)
- Shop owners will complain. Show them that most of their customers are actually coming from within a small radius and give them decent business support! Most are probably delusional in thinking that their customers come from miles away and may blame traffic measures for their own failures (a certain pet supplies shop owner comes to mind).
- A certain lawyer will whine. Tell her to shut up. She doesn’t know what she is talking about. (If she makes you feel stupid and ignorant, that’s because she is talking complete rubbish!)
The cost of energy in the UK is once again a hot topic. During the party conference season, Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, announced that the Scottish government will set up a publicly owned, not for profit energy company. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn restated his wish to nationalise utility companies to “stop the public being ripped off”. And the Conservative prime minister Theresa May promised to fix the “broken” energy market, in part by imposing a cap on some domestic energy prices.
The UK government swiftly followed this season of rhetoric with two supporting policy announcements. It has drawn up draft legislation to set an energy price cap, although this may take until the winter of 2018/19 to be enacted. Second, it has published a clean growth strategy, which promises “cleaner air, lower energy bills, greater economic security and a natural environment protected and enhanced for the future”.
It’s not easy to address the social, environmental and economic dimensions of domestic energy in one go, as these different goals interact with each other. For example, a price cap clearly makes energy more affordable, but it doesn’t reduce the amount of energy needed or used. While the sheer price of energy is problematic for many people, so too is inefficient housing which increases bills and associated greenhouse gas emissions.
The clean growth strategy addresses this by reconfirming a commitment to require large energy companies to install efficiency measures such as insulation and heating systems. This scheme, the energy company obligation (ECO), now has £3.6 billion in funding through to 2028. It aims to help 2.5m fuel-poor households. Alongside stricter regulations within the private rented sector, the ECO is intended to upgrade all fuel-poor homes to a decent standard by 2030.
But it’s worth putting the rhetoric and promises of these policy announcements into context. Help for people in fuel poverty has decreased since 2010, largely due to the coalition government abandoning publicly funded schemes in England in favour of privately funded energy supplier obligations like ECO. Though social and environmental policies do add to fuel bills, policymakers assume that this increase is more than offset by people using less energy thanks to efficiency savings.
In our research we are currently looking at whether ECO is an effective way to address affordability and energy efficiency in vulnerable people’s homes. England is the only one of the four UK nations that relies solely on this market-driven scheme, so it’s important to evaluate its impact. We recently highlighted a number of potential problems, and solutions. To begin with, only certain people are eligible. Proxies such as welfare benefits, demographics and postcodes are used, but they can arbitrarily exclude households on the margins of these measures who may indeed be vulnerable.
People also struggle to upgrade their homes if the work does not enable a certain amount of carbon savings at a certain price. In other words, private companies are likely to prioritise meeting their statutory obligations rather than findings and helping the most vulnerable households. Even for those that do secure funding, it’s at best a long and complicated process. Some upgrades are never completed because installers are not equipped to manage the needs of people with, for example, disabilities or mental health conditions.
What is clear from our comparative research of the UK nations is that state funded schemes, such as nest in Wales and home energy efficiency programmes in Scotland, are better able to target, and respond to the needs of, vulnerable households. Market driven schemes are different as they will, by definition, seek out the most cost effective work. But this ceases to be an asset once the low-hanging fruit has all been picked, and those with the greatest need (and potentially higher costs) are left subsidising other people’s housing upgrades.
An energy price cap will certainly provide some initial relief. But unless it is continually ratcheted down or extended to more customers it will not provide long-term savings or wider benefits. Increasing investment in energy efficiency ticks more social and environmental boxes, but the regressive approach to funding such a scheme in England means it will continue prioritising cost-effective carbon savings over helping those most in need.
Tuna is one of the most ubiquitous seafoods. It can be eaten from a can or as high-end sashimi and in many forms in between. But some species are over-fished and some fishing methods are unsustainable. How do you know which type of tuna you’re eating?
Some tuna is certified as sustainably caught by groups such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) that set standards for sustainable fishing. But these certifications are only good if they are credible.
In late August, several media outlets published stories about On the Hook, a new campaign by a consortium of retailers and academics who have taken issue with some fishing practices allowed by the MSC. As a university professor whose research focuses on private seafood governance, including certifications and traceability, and fisheries policy, I am deeply familiar with the issues at hand. I support the campaign, but don’t stand to gain from the outcome.
The Western and Central Pacific skipjack tuna fishery is one of the world’s biggest. Some of the tuna caught here carries the MSC’s blue label, identifying it as the best environmental choice for consumers. But the same boats making that sustainable catch may also use unsustainable methods to catch unsustainable fish on the same day.
The On the Hook coalition sees this as at odds with the MSC certification, as do I. Yes, sustainable and unsustainable fish can be separated; there are people on board whose sole job is to do this. But rewarding fishermen for their sustainable catch, while allowing them to fish unsustainably, dupes consumers into supporting companies that take part in bad behaviour.
Does sorting work?
The On the Hook campaign singles out one fishery in particular: the “purse seine” fishery in the tropical western Pacific Ocean. This fishery covers the waters of eight island nations, including Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Under the Nauru Agreement, these nations, usually referred to as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), collectively control access to about one quarter of the world’s tuna supply.
Fishermen can use nets to catch free-swimming adult tuna and earn MSC certification for their catch. But these same fishermen can also use fish aggregating devices (FADs) — instruments that attract all kinds of marine life, including adult tuna, juvenile tuna and hundreds of species of sharks, turtles and other fish — to net their catch. Fishing on FADs is faster and less costly, but these devices are associated with high levels of bycatch, one of the main sustainability concerns in many fisheries. Fishing on FDAs does not earn MSC certification.
Under normal operations, the fishermen use both methods. “Compartmentalization” is a technique that allows the unsustainable portion of the fish to be separated on board the vessel from the sustainable portion. This is supposed to provide assurance to consumers that they are making a sustainable choice. Yet the negative environmental impacts connected to FAD fishing operations should surely also be considered in an MSC assessment. Currently, this does not happen.
Compartmentalization remains necessary because there isn’t enough of an economic advantage for companies to make only sustainable catches. It costs fishermen more to fish sustainably because they have to find the tuna, instead of waiting for it to come to the FAD.
A fleet using both methods can be part of a higher value premium market and earn financial security from the high volume, yet unsustainable, fishery. If purse-seining tuna vessels need to subsidize their sustainable fishing with unsustainable practices, then MSC certification has not provided the incentive it set out to.
A holistic fishery
Millions of tonnes of tuna have been fished from the waters of the Western and Central Pacific fishery. But the countries controlling these waters have not benefited to a large extent, mostly due to a lack of cooperation in bargaining for benefits, which allowed distant nations to exploit the fishery.
In the past decade, these Pacific Island states have increased their bargaining power in regional negotiations by implementing a scheme that controls the number of boats that can enter their waters. Under the program, called the vessel day scheme (VDS), these countries can now charge higher fees to boats that want access.
For example, PNA countries used to extract between three per cent and six per cent of the value of tuna fishery in their waters. Since their bargaining power has increased, they can now extract more than 14 per cent of the value, and this number is likely to continue to rise.
This is no small accomplishment for these Pacific Island nations, and other coastal state collectives are now trying to emulate their success. But this does not mean that all of the practices they allow are commendable, including those that are not representative of the “best environmental choice” in seafood.
On my Facebook feed, a colleague recently commented: “A Pacific Islander owned sustainably certified fishery is the wrong target.”
Let me clear up this misconception. The On the Hook campaign is not targeting the PNA, but the MSC. It would like the MSC to delay the recertification — authorized by the accreditation body in September — of the PNA fishery until the compartmentalization practice has been addressed. The fishery needs to be considered holistically.
For example, the MSC could specify that to earn a certification, a boat cannot fish sustainably and unsustainably on the same fishing trip. Consumer dollars should not be supporting the very practices the MSC condemns.
Another colleague remarked that because the PNA is challenging big industry, the On the Hook campaign might benefit big industry and hurt the PNA. In fact, it is the same boats, the same fleet, the same companies that are fishing MSC-certified tuna and on FADs.
My colleagues also worry that the campaign calls into question the credibility of the MSC label. But this has actually become commonplace, with many groups pointing at examples of certified fisheries that are not sustainable. For example, the WWF has recommended that seafood buyers should stay away from MSC-certified Mexican tuna.
I would argue that the MSC is tarnishing itself by normalizing the practice of compartmentalization. It is no longer clear that fish carrying the MSC label offer the best environmental choice. Many Canadian fisheries, like lobster, herring, and Atlantic redfish, are MSC-certified. The faltering credibility of the MSC is a major risk for Canadian fish harvesters who rely on the MSC label to communicate their good fishing practices.
Additionally, Canadian consumers who are used to searching for the blue MSC check mark when they shop for seafood can no longer do so thinking that the logo conveys accurate information. Consumers need to know that the waters are muddy, that seafood sustainability is a moving target, and that it is not easy to make the right choice when standing in the aisle at the supermarket.
Governments and businesses need to make that choice easier for consumers. And they could start by dealing with compartmentalization in the PNA fishery — and elsewhere.
The PNA countries could also make demands. They could allow access rights only to vessels that agree to drop the practice of compartmentalization and that are transparent about their fishing practices.
More than anything, the MSC needs to take a good look at itself and remember what it is supposed to represent — the best environmental choice — not consumer confusion.
Not only is it more sustainable – which I checked with sustainable fisheries expert Edd Hind a few years back – canned / tinned mackerel has all the healthy fish oils. Tuna in cans or tins does not.
Last week, I saw a guy in India post on Twitter that he was about to make a wonderful jain organic vegetable biryani. I asked him for the recipe as I love a good vegetable biryani but it is hard to come by and I don’t know how to make it. He liked my request, but didn’t give me a recipe.
So I decided to start hunting down recipes for myself so that one day, I’ll be able to make a really delicious one.
So here goes. First off, using organic ingredients makes it relatively eco-friendly and healthier for you. Second, I haven’t actually tried any of these yet.
This is the first one I found, at: https://www.tarladalal.com/Vegetable-Biryani-7553r
Preparation Time: 15 mins. Cooking Time: 40 mins. Total Time: 55 mins Serves 4.
For the rice
3 cups steamed rice
1/2 tsp saffron (kesar) strands
2 tbsp milk
4 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves (phudina)
salt to taste
For the gravy
1 cup boiled mixed vegetables
2 bayleaves (tejpatta)
4 black peppercorns (kalimirch)
4 cloves (laung / lavang)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander-cumin seeds (dhania-jeera) powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (jaiphal) powder
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh cream
2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
For the rice
Warm the saffron, add a little water, rub it so the milk becomes yellow and add to the rice.
Mix in the rice, chopped mint leaves and salt and keep aside.
For the gravy
Heat the oil in a pan add bayleaves, peppercorns and cloves to it.Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, coriander-cumin seed powder, asafoetida and nutmeg powder. Cook for a few minutes while mashing continuously till the oil separates from the mixture.
Add the tomato sauce and milk-corn flour mixture. Bring to a boil, add cream and mix well.
Mix the vegetables in the gravy and keep aside.
How to proceed
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a huge vessel make a layer by spreading 1/3 of the rice.
On it spread half the gravy and 1/3 of rice. Layer again with remaining half of the gravy and remaining 1/3 rice. Cover a lid and seal the edges with a dough.
Cook on a slow flame for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.
Here is the second biryani, from: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Jain-Dum-Biryani.html.
This is not really a vegetable biryani, I suppose, as it contains dairy products, but it sounds delicious and offers you plenty of suggestions for variations.
Prep Time : 26-30 minutes
Cook time : 31-40 minutes
Serves : 4
Level Of Cooking : Easy
Taste : Spicy
Ingredients for Jain Dum Biryani Recipe
Rice soaked and drained 2 cups
Paneer (cottage cheese) cubes ¼ cup
French beans cut into diamonds ¼ cup
Babycorn halved ¼ cup
Green peas boiled 2 tablespoons
Black peppercorns 6-8
Bay leaf 1
Cinnamon 1 inch stick
Caraway seeds (shahi jeera) 1 teaspoon
Green cardamoms 3-4
Ghee 4 tablespoons
Salt to taste
Yogurt 1 cup
Cornflour/ corn starch 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder ¼ teaspoon
Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon
Biryani masala 1 tablespoon
Garam masala powder 1 teaspoon
Fresh mint leaves 1 tablespoon chopped + for garnishing
Fresh coriander leaves 1 tablespoon chopped + for garnishing
Butter 1 tablespoon
Fresh cream 2 tablespoons
Saffron (kesar) a few strands
dough made of atta to seal
Boil water in a deep non-stick pan, add some peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, caraway seeds, green cardamoms, salt and some ghee and bring to a boil. Add rice and cook till the rice is 34th done. Drain and keep aside
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a non-stick pan, add almonds and cashewnuts and sauté till lightly browned. Set aside.
Add remaining peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, bay leaf to the same pan and sauté for half a minute. Add French beans, babycorn, green peas and sauté till soft.
Mix yogurt and cornflour in a small bowl and add this to the pan.
Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, biryani masala, garam masala powder and salt and mix well.
Add fried nuts, paneer and mix well.
Add mint leaves and coriander leaves to the gravy and mix well. Add some water and rice.
Mix butter, fresh cream and saffron in a 2nd bowl.
Put the cream mixture to the biryani.
Cover the assembled biryani with a tight-fitting lid and seal the edges with atta (dough). Cook for 15-20 minutes.
Serve hot garnished with coriander and mint leaves.
Below is a YouTube video and recipe no. 3, from: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Vegetable-Biryani-KhaanaKhazana.html
Prep Time : 16-20 minutes
Cook time : 26-30 minutes
Serves : 4
Level Of Cooking : Moderate
Taste : Mild
Ingredients for Vegetable Biryani Recipe
Basmati Rice 1 1/2 cups
Carrots 2 medium
Carrots 1/2 inch pieces 2 medium
French beans 1/2 inch pieces 15
Cauliflower 10-12 florets
Green peas shelled 1 cup
Salt to taste
Green cardamons 8
Black cardamom 1
Cinnamon 1/2 inch stick
Bay leaf 1
Caraway seeds (shahi jeera) 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger-garlic paste 1 1/2 tablespoons
Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder 1 tablespoon
Coriander powder 1 tablespoon
Yogurt 1/2 cup
Rose water 1/2 teaspoon
Saffron (kesar) a few strands
Fresh tomato puree 1 cup
Garam masala powder 1 teaspoon
Fresh coriander leaves chopped 2 tablespoons
Fresh mint leaves chopped 2 tablespoons
Boil rice in four cups of salted boiling water with two green cardamoms, one black cardamom, five cloves, half inch stick of cinnamon, until three-fourth done. Drain excess water and set aside. Heat a non-stick pan. Add the remaining green cardamoms, cloves, black cardamom and cinnamon along with bay leaf and caraway seeds and roast. Add onions, carrot, French beans, cauliflower florets and green peas.
Sprinkle salt, cover and cook on medium heat for two minutes. Add ginger-garlic paste mixed with a little water and stir. Cover and cook for two minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder and cook.Whisk yogurt with rose water and saffron. Add a little water or milk and whisk well. Add tomato puree to the vegetables along with half teaspoon garam masala powder and mix well. Simmer for two minutes. Take a microwave safe deep bowl.
Arrange a layer of rice at the bottom. Over that arrange half the cooked vegetables followed by another layer of rice. Sprinkle half of the remaining garam masala powder, half the coriander leaves, half the mint leaves and half the yogurt mixture. Arrange the remaining vegetables followed by the remaining rice.Sprinkle the remaining garam masala powder, remaining coriander leaves, remaining mint leaves and the remaining yogurt mixture. Cover with a silicon lid and cook in the microwave oven for four to five minutes on HIGH (100%). Let it stand for five minutes. Serve hot.
Number 4 comes from this page: http://www.jeyashriskitchen.com/2009/09/vegetable-biryani-and-awards.html
Preparation Time: 10 mins | Cooking Time: 20 Minutes | Serves 2-3
TO GRIND :
GINGER 1 INCH
GREEN CHILLI 2 NO
MINT LEAVES FEW
FENNEL SEEDS 1/2 TSP
TOMATO(optional) 1 SMALL SIZE
VEGETABLES U NEED
CARROT 1 NO
BEANS 100 GMS
GREEN PEAS(FROZEN) 1 FISTFUL
CAULIFLOWER 5-6 FLORETS
CAPSICUM 1/2 NO
AND FINALLY BASMATI RICE 1 CUP.
Wash and soak the basmati rice in 1and 1/2 cups of water for 20 mins.
Grind the ingredients in the table no.1 into a fine paste. Cut the onions(optional) and capsicum into long thin slices.
In a kadai , put 2 tsp of oil and saute the capsicum till it emits a nice aroma and keep it separately Then add the cauliflower florets and saute by adding little salt till it cooks and gives a golden brown color This will take 7-10 mins. Keep this also separately.
Then again put a tsp of oil and add the thinly sliced onions to it and saute till golden brown . Now add the masala paste. Fry till the raw smell gets rid off.
Cut all the veggies, except peas ,into cubes and add it to the paste.
Let it gets nicely coated with the veggies.
Now add the rice keeping the water aside. Fry for 2 more mins. Then transfer everything to a rice cooker or a pressure cooker and add the water.
Add salt and a tsp of oil.
If using pressure cooker cook till 1 whistles and simmer it for 10 minutes . Finally add the capsicum and cauliflower.
Serve hot with onion raitha or any other raita of ur choice.
Finally, number 5 which comes from: http://pratibhajain.org/vegetable-biryani-vegetarian/
Ingredients for Vegetable Biryani:
Basmati rice – 1 kg
Oil – 300 ml
Cinnamon – 2 (1-inch pieces)
Cloves – 4
Cardamom – 2
Onions – 250 gms
Ginger – 100 gms
Garlic – 100 gms
Potatoes – 200 gms
Carrots – 250 gms
Beans – 100 gms
Fresh peas – 100 gms, shelled
Tomatoes – 300 gms
Coriander leaves – ½ bunch
Mint leaves – ¼ bunch
Green chillies – 2-4, stem removed
Fresh yogurt – ½ cup
Red chilli powder – 2 heaped teaspoons
Salt – to taste
1. Wash the rice and soak for half-an-hour in 1.5 litres of water. 2. Wash all the vegetables. Slice the onions thinly. Chop the potatoes, carrots, beans and tomatoes into medium-sized pieces. Peel and grind the ginger and garlic into a fine paste. Chop the coriander and mint leaves finely.
3. Heat the oil in a wok and add the cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms.
4. Lower the flame to medium heat, add the onions and sauté until they turn translucent.
5. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the aroma rises.
6. Add all the vegetables including the tomatoes, coriander and mint leaves. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add the green chillies, yogurt, chilli powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Allow to cook until the potatoes are tender (but not overcooked).
8. Now transfer the cooked gravy into a rice cooker or pressure cooker.
9. Add the soaked rice along with the water and add some more salt, as required. If the gravy does not have any liquid in it, you may need to add another half-a-litre of water.
10. Allow to cook until the water has evaporated and each grain of rice is cooked. In the pressure cooker, you can cook for up to 2 whistles. Take care not to overcook since each grain of the rice must be separate.
Serve hot with any raita of your choice.
In Waterlooville, quite close to where I am based, they are having a situation that is far from rare (and one that is so wonderful to work with). See the following three pages:
Apparently, some residents and shopkeepers are experiencing problems with pigeons while other residents are feeding the same pigeons, eh, up to 8 kilograms bird food per day? (I am sure I have misunderstood that, because that is a heck of a lot of bird food.)
Both sides are right, of course. While pigeons rarely spread disease – a common myth – their droppings can be unsightly and, well, a pain in the butt. Pigeons are also very smart creatures for which we are actually responsible, however, as it was us who took these birds from the sea cliffs in the countries where we found them in the past. We took them with us, and spread them all over the world because we liked them. Yep. We also used them as messengers, of course.
So what’s a pigeon gonna do? It has no choice but to use our buildings and bridges to roost and nest, as those are the only things that come close to the sea cliffs they once had in warmer countries.
And apparently, even if they are told that the birds will be killed unless they stop feeding them, many people who feed pigeons will continue to feed the birds. It is understandable. If you’ve only once seen a pigeon trying to eat some utterly disgusting piece of greasy fast food that made us gag and throw it away and that gets grease all over the bird and barely any nutrition into it, then you start feeling an obligation toward these gentle rock doves. Again, after all, we’re the ones that brought them here.
(In fact, when you look at the pigeons around you, you can also often see that the local pigeons breed with the white pigeons released on various festive and memorial occasions!)
While many city councils may feel powerless when dealing with a pigeon problem, there is actually a solution. After Nottingham City Hospital tried it in 1999, they were astonished. The pigeon population was reduced from 1200 pigeons in 1999 to 63 pigeons in 2005, only 5 years later. That is a 95% reduction in flock size without killing a single bird! Nottingham City Hospital also won the prestigious RSPCA Best Practices Award for its work with a pigeon organisation that sadly no longer seems to exist. (But this one does: http://www.pigeoncontrolresourcecentre.org/html/reviews/artificial-breeding-facilities.html. And that page has more examples and cost estimates, too.)
Think like a pigeon! What does a pigeon want? A good place to sleep, sheltered from the elements. A good place to nest too.
(And the best food you can get, because good food helps you stay healthy.)
Our buildings often don’t actually offer pigeons a lot of good shelter, so you can entice pigeons to move out by offering them a better alternative. You can place artificial roosting and nesting structures – modern dovecotes and pigeon lofts – in parks or on flat roof tops. They’re also called artificial breeding facilities or ABFs.
They enable you to decrease pigeon pressure elsewhere by attracting the pigeons to them. They can also allow you to control and maintain a healthy pigeon population (which requires a DEFRA licence just as it is also against the law to kill any kind of wild bird without a licence).
When I read that in Waterlooville, pigeons apparently are roosting (?!) on balconies where the human inhabitants don’t want them, I concluded that those pigeons must be very desperate. So that would mean that this solution might work particularly well in Waterlooville.
I bet it is possible to engage those who are currently feeding the pigeons in locations where they cause problems in a pigeon control and relocation project, leading to good results for everyone.
Put yourself in a pigeon’s shoes. Where would you like to sleep? In a nice condo or in a leaky shed that may not even have a roof? Pigeons are damn smart. It’s easier to work with their intelligence than against it. Some pigeons routinely take the tram or metro and one has even been spotted taking the ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo and back.
Need more convincing? Ha! Watch these 46 minutes by National Geographic.
The artificial structures can be made from scrap materials at almost no cost. They can also be made from recycled plastic, which is sturdy, completely non-toxic (environmentally friendly) and totally maintenance-free. It is highly durable.
You can get it from Kedel, who were the winners of the 2015 ‘Best Recycled Product’ award and are based in Colne, Lancashire, Second Life Products Wales (SPLW), who are based in Swansea and British Recycled Plastic, who are based in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire.
With a bit of luck, ha, you can even tie such a project to your own local plastic recycling. You can also come up with ways to let the structures fund themselves, partly or fully. (Allow people to name a pigeon or sponsor a “floor” in the structure, volunteer in all sorts of ways, what have you.)
You can combine it with all sorts of educational activities (responsibility for our own environment including for example recycling) or use it to, say, connect different generations. You can include it in primary school teaching. Lots of stuff you can do with it, I am sure.
Now, if I were such a borough or city council, I’d jump at such an opportunity to make many people happy, and get lots of kudos without ticking anyone off.
If the pigeons already know one or two people who feed them, they are likely to follow those people, who can lead the pigeons away, in daily steps. And you can also teach pigeons sound signals to respond to (signals they associate with the food).
The Royal Family has been keeping pigeons for many decades, by the way.
When I searched for the problem on Twitter, for Waterlooville, I only found four tweets, none recent.
We will miss the Waterlooville CAB cameraderie which we hope will continue elsewhere, but not the cold winters and the pigeons! #cablive
— Havant (@HavantCAB) April 23, 2015
Our Waterlooville office is a spring home for wildlife with pigeons and sparrows nesting and burrowing bees outside #cablive
— Havant (@HavantCAB) April 22, 2015
The pigeons in waterlooville are badass! They ain’t scared by nothin’
— Nathan (@Nathoster) January 10, 2015
Is there anyone nr Waterlooville that has racing pigeons?
a beautiful one has arrived here but she seems exhausted need help to catch ?
— Annette (@BridalCoiffure) July 15, 2013
You’d think it’d be easy to find…
Amazon has it. Unbleached, recycled, biodegradable toilet paper.
The packaging is compostable, too. Made from potato starch.
And while you’re ordering this… why not get the paper towels too?
Like just about everybody else, I use too much plastic and have started to take small steps toward reducing my plastic footprint. Plastic not only ends up everywhere, including our own bodies and the food we eat, it also greatly impacts wildlife.
Instead of toothpaste, I use baking soda that comes packaged in paper and cardboard. Using baking soda is cheaper than using toothpaste.
Instead of buying containers of liquid hand soap, I make my own from a quarter bar of soap and refill the containers I already have. This too is much cheaper than purchasing ready-made liquid hand soap and the effort involved in making my own is negligible.
I try to keep plastic food containers and reuse them at least once for seedlings on my window sill. It’s nowhere near enough. I would like to see a system geared toward collecting and reusing the plastic used to package food. Maybe I’ll start one myself one day.
I spent some time in a green hotel in the Netherlands last week. I initially didn’t have a lot of attention for the details of my location as I was focused on meetings – and on getting my key card to open doors. Then one morning, at the top of the stairs, I realized I was surrounded by green roofs and snapped some photos. Yes, these are flat roofs that cover the ground floor level.
I later spotted more small green roofs in an office area in Amsterdam South-East, from my train. One appeared to include an entire tree! A big one, too.
See my previous post about this topic. I found that it is really easy to buy a lot of plastic packaging when you’re trying to make your own household products to avoid buying plastic packaging!
Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda (unless you’re in the UK where baking soda apparently also includes cream of tartar) comes in plastic tubs of 200 grams at £1.29 at Asda, or in small wrapped sachets that are much more expensive, relatively speaking (a few sachets for £1).
I decided that I didn’t need flavoring for my toothpaste as that would likely also come with waste. (I still have some eucalyptus oil in a glass dropper. That should work too, if needed.)
I first tried bicarbonate of soda on my tooth brush, just like that, and it turned out to work much better than the toothpaste I was using!!! My teeth had that nice clean feeling. You know what I mean.
Yay, buying toothpaste eliminated!
(Except when travelling, maybe. I don’t want to be caught travelling with a white powder in my luggage.)
A dentist says about it: “Baking soda is completely safe to use as a DIY toothpaste. I like it because it’s non-toxic and increases alkalinity in the mouth by neutralizing acids, all while having a very low abrasion score.” Added benefits: no more yucky toothbrush and no more toothpaste stains on my clothing.
I clearly still needed to find some baking soda that is not packaged in plastic, so I searched online. I spotted Arm & Hammer on Amazon in Britain. 227 grams for £0.81, but the delivery costs are £5.56. Holland and Barrett has 450 grams for £4.49. It appears to be packaged in a plastic bag, but it would be less waste than one of those tubs. It’s much more expensive, though. Ocado has Arm & Hammer too.
But the winner is… Wilkinson/Wilko, which sells 500-gram packages at £1.50! That will likely last me at least a year.
I noticed that brushing with baking soda later produced a mildly sweet taste in my mouth. This may not be obvious to everyone and it may not even be the case for everyone.
(If you avoid consuming sugar, you can also detect the unpleasant acidic taste that results from bacteria attacking the sugar and producing acid around your teeth when you do eat sugar. I never was aware of that before I stopped buying sugar. I have made an exception three times, twice to make really yummy brownies in my microwave to treat my colleagues and once when friends were visiting who like sugar in their tea.)
When I went shopping for these things for making my own toothpaste and shampoo, I almost automatically grabbed some coconut shower gel but I remembered just in time that I wanted to cut my plastic waste. I can probably also use my DYI coconut shampoo as shower gel.
The can / tin of coconut milk cost me £ 0.80, but for the soap, I chose a four-pack of “Simple pure soap for sensitive skin” without perfume or color, which cost £2.16, both at Asda
After I got home, I wondered what “dermatologically tested” meant, which was printed on the soap’s packaging. It looked like paper but turned out to be… plastic. The bars are wrapped individually, too, but at least those wrappers are made of paper.
I looked into the dermatological testing. “Simple” products are not tested on animals, but this soap does contain sodium tallowate (made from animal fat). And what a shame about the plastic packaging.
But the soap smells delicious! Without added perfume!
Another possible problem with the soap is that it requires the use of a moisturiser afterward, but I can accommodate for that by adding enough olive oil.
I often use olive oil on my skin (though I’ve gotten out of the habit lately). It does a great job as it seals moisture in and makes my skin look really healthy and young.
The next thing I did was make liquid soap. I grated about a quarter of a bar with a cheese grater that I had bought because a consumer program on the BBC claimed that grating your own cheese is cheaper than buying grated cheese. (It wasn’t, in my case.)
I wouldn’t call this “finely” grated, but it will have to do.
Then I waited till 8 pm because between 8 pm and 10 pm, my electricity costs less than half of what it costs between 4 pm and 8 pm. (That’s 9 pm and 11 pm in during daylight saving time, though, and 5 pm and 9 pm!)
In the meantime, I tried to figure out how much “a quart” was, in the recipe that I’d found online. In the UK, it is 1.1365225 litres and in the US it is 0.946352946 liters. As the needed quantity of soap was one ounce or about 1/4 of a bar, I decided that about one liter of water would do. I could always add a bit more if I got the feeling that more was needed, but the recipe is American, so I didn’t anticipate needing more water.
Then I set about finding a suitable container for my liquid soap. Guess what? I stuck my arms into my kitchen’s trash container (relax, I knew what was in it) and pulled out two plastic pump flasks for liquid hand soap for which I had thought I had no more use. Each holds 500 ml, so that’s perfect.
These bottles are recyclable (probably turned into plastic wood), but whether I don’t know whether they are really recycled. The pumps are not recyclable.
Dissolving the soap was much easier and happened much quicker than I expected:
The recipe said to let the stuff gel for 24 hours, but I could already tell long before that that this soap was going to be great, and of the same consistency as the hand soap I used to buy.
So, one package with four bars of soap at £ 2.16 will make me 4 times 4 times 2 bottles is 32 bottles of soap that usually cost £1 or maybe 2 for £1. I didn’t use much electricity for heating so making my own hand wash this way saves me £ 15 to £ 30.
A possible downside is that this liquid soap may not be moisturising, so I will add a few drops of oil to it. I added a few drops of olive oil this time. Next time, I may use almond oil or rose oil.
I waited one more day, so 48 hours all in all, before I declared the two bottles with home-made liquid soap ready for use. The consistency is quite fine now, but when I vigorously shook both bottles 20 to 22 hours after I poured the soap mixture into the bottles – to ensure that the mixture had gelled well – the liquid that came out then was still quite thin/watery. It does take at least 24 hours for the mixture to stabilize, said the recipe.
Yay, buying handwash eliminated!
I’ll make shampoo next, when my current bottle runs out.
I am not happy with how much plastic I put in the trash all the time and want to change that.
I am going to start by making my own tooth paste. That’s a baby step. That’s how we all learned to walk. Baby steps. Easy does it.
Here are three useful pages with information:
I noticed that that could produce more waste instead of less if I am not careful. Coconut milk usually is not packaged in plastic but in cans/tins (easy to recycle) and I can use the remainder of the coconut milk in food, but liquid soap is packaged in plastic. Then I found directions for turning bars of soap into liquid soap do I will look for bars that are packaged in paper and turn them into liquid soap.
There is also this method for washing hair with baking soda.
I am going to give the coconut shampoo version a shot to see how it works out and to that end, I will first try to turn bars into liquid soap. If the latter works, I also will no longer have to buy liquid hand soap in plastic. I can use the plastic pump flasks that I already have. (The pumps don’t work on many of them, so I’ve kept a few that work and I refill those anyway.)
Another advantage of using home-made toothpaste is that it won’t contain any nanoparticles. Many products contain nanoparticles these days, but there is no technology yet for removing them from waste streams.