Daily Prelims Newsletter for upsc 21 Apr 2022

Daily Prelims Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

21 Apr 2022-Thrusday

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

FOPL (Front of Package Labeling) System

Why in the news?

Recently, 40 global health experts claimed that the Food Safety Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) plan to implement a “health star rating” system to help consumers reduce their intake of unhealthy foods is “not evidence-based” and has failed to change buyer behaviour.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an independent statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006. (FSS Act).

What is the context?

Front of package labelling (FOPL) was first recommended in India in 2014 by an expert committee formed by the FSSAI in 2013.

The FSSAI published draught notification Food Safety Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations in 2019.

The draught requires food labels to be color-coded.

The FSSAI decoupled FOPL from general labelling regulations in December 2019.

The FSSAI decided to adopt the “health-star rating system” in its draught regulations for Front of Package Labeling on February 15, 2022. (FOPL).

What exactly is the Health Star Rating (HSR) System?

The health-star rating system assigns a product half a star to five stars.

The HSR format assigns a rating to a packaged food item based on its salt, sugar, and fat content, and the rating is printed on the front of the package.

The rating will be the first of its kind in India, a country plagued by lifestyle diseases, and will help consumers choose healthier foods.

What exactly is a Front-of-Package (FoP) Labeling System?

The FoP labelling system has long been regarded as one of the world’s best practises for encouraging consumers to make healthy food choices.

It works in the same way that cigarette packets are labelled with images to discourage smoking.

As India undergoes a dietary shift, with people increasingly consuming more processed and ultra-processed foods and a burgeoning market, these factors necessitate FoP labelling for India.

It will be useful in combating rising obesity and a variety of noncommunicable diseases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FoP labels as nutrition labelling systems that are displayed on the front of food packages in the primary field of vision and display simple, often graphic information on the nutrient content or nutritional quality of products.

In order to supplement the more detailed nutrient declarations found on the back of food packages.

According to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, “FoP labelling is intended to assist in interpreting nutrient declarations.”

What is the Need for a Food Health Rating System?

Reduce Healthcare Costs:

Since the FoPL’s implementation, most countries have begun to reap the benefits of positive consumer behaviour.

It has aided those governments in reducing direct and indirect healthcare costs.

Chile and Brazil are among the countries that have implemented ‘high-in’ warning labels on food packaging, which has resulted in lower consumption of unhealthy ultra-processed foods and beverages.

To Promote a Healthier Lifestyle: In India, front-of-package warning labelling is a critical component of a comprehensive strategy to promote a healthier lifestyle, as it allows consumers to identify products high in sugar, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, and total fats, all of which are critical nutrients associated with Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs).

What are the Concerns Related to This?

Positive Nutrient Masking: Most consumer organisations objected because ‘positive nutrients’ will mask the negative impact of high fat, salt, and sugar in food, and the industry will use it to mislead the consumer.

Target Audience Restrictions: The labelling format appears to be aimed only at people who are literate and nutritionally aware.

Furthermore, because of low general and nutrition literacy, understanding text-heavy nutrient information is difficult.

Can Perplex Consumers: The HSR system can produce a “health halo,” which can perplex consumers because stars can be misinterpreted as an endorsement of a product.

More on the Way Forward Focus on Pictorial Representation: Because nearly a quarter of India’s population is illiterate, pictorial representation would allow for greater engagement and understanding.

Front-of-pack labelling in India could benefit from being symbol-based, with food images, logos, and health benefits.

More R&D is required:

Mandatory front of pack labelling must be preceded by thorough research and presented in an understandable and acceptable format to all.

Should be based on Science and Public Health Interest: To avoid conflicts of interest, the decision to choose a label should be free of commercial interest.

The label’s selection should be based on science, and the public’s health should be at the forefront of the debate.

Farming Seaweed

Why in the news?

To improve fishermen’s livelihoods, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy will establish a seaweed park in Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu has been asked to set aside land for a Special Economic Zone dedicated to seaweed farming.

The Technology Information, Forecasting, and Assessment Council (TIFAC) launched the Seaweed Mission in 2021.

What exactly is seaweed?

They are the primitive, marine non-flowering marine algae that lack a root, stem, and leaves and play an important role in marine ecosystems.

Large seaweeds form dense underwater forests called kelp forests, which serve as nurseries for fish, snails, and sea urchins.

Gelidiella acerosa, Gracilaria edulis, Gracilaria crassa, Gracilaria verrucosa, Sargassum spp., and Turbinaria spp. are some seaweed species.

Nutritionally, seaweed is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, and it’s also tasty.

Many seaweeds contain anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agents that can be used medicinally. For thousands of years, their known medicinal effects have been numerous.

Certain seaweeds contain potent cancer-fighting agents, which researchers hope will one day be used to treat malignant tumours and leukaemia in humans.

Economic Growth: Seaweed has also aided economic growth. They are effective binding agents (emulsifiers) in commercial goods such as toothpaste and fruit jelly, as well as popular softeners (emollients) in organic cosmetics and skin-care products.

Bioindicator: When waste from agriculture, industries, aquaculture, and households enters the ocean, it causes nutrient imbalances that result in algal blooming, which is a sign of marine chemical damage. Seaweeds absorb excess nutrients and help to balance the ecosystem.

Iron Sequestrator: 

Iron is essential for photosynthesis in these aquatic organisms. When the concentration of this mineral exceeds healthy levels and becomes harmful to marine life, seaweeds trap it and protect it. Similarly, seaweeds trap and remove the majority of heavy metals found in marine ecosystems.

Supplier of Oxygen and Nutrients:

Seaweeds, for their part, obtain nutrition through photosynthesis of sunlight and nutrients found in seawater. They expel oxygen from all parts of their bodies. They also provide organic nutrients to other forms of marine life.

What Is Seaweed Farming and Why Is It Important?

Seaweed farming is the cultivation and harvesting of seaweed.

In its most basic form, it is the management of naturally occurring batches.

In its most advanced form, it consists of completely controlling the algae’s life cycle.

Seaweeds are abundant along the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, as well as around the Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Significance:
  • It is estimated that if seaweed cultivation is done in 10 million hectares, or 5% of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), it will provide employment for 50 million people.
  • Establish a new seaweed industry.
  • Contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • Increase ocean productivity.
  • Reduce algal blooms.
  • Millions of tonnes of CO2 will be sequestered.
  • A total of 6.6 billion litres of bioethanol could be produced.

Blue Blob

Why in the news?

A region of cooling water in the North Atlantic Ocean near Iceland, dubbed the “Blue blob,” may have temporarily slowed the melting of Arctic sea ice, according to new research.

However, the study also stated that if temperatures are not controlled, the effects of climate change will catch up with the massive ice chunks.

What is a Blue Blob, and what role does it play in slowing glacier melting?

It’s a cold spot south of Iceland and Greenland, and little is known about it.

The cold patch was most noticeable during the winter of 2014-2015, when the sea surface temperature was approximately 1.4 degrees Celsius lower than normal.

According to reports, the Arctic region is warming four times faster than the global average, and Iceland’s glaciers shrank steadily from 1995 to 2010, losing an average of 11 billion tonnes of ice per year.

However, since 2011, the rate of melting in Iceland has slowed, resulting in roughly half as much ice loss annually, and the Blue Blob has been linked to cooler air temperatures over Iceland’s glaciers and cooler waters.

This pattern was not observed in nearby, larger glaciers on Greenland and Svalbard.

Prior to the Blue Blob, the Atlantic Warming Hole, a long-term cooling trend in the same region, reduced sea surface temperatures by about 0.4 to 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century and may continue to do so in the future.

A slowing of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation could be one of the causes of the Warming Hole (AMOC).

The Arctic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC) is an ocean current that transports warm water from the tropics to the Arctic, reducing the amount of heat delivered to the region.

What exactly is the Arctic?

The Arctic is a polar region in the far north of the Earth.

Snow and ice cover the land in the Arctic region vary seasonally.

The Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden make up the region.

Since 2013, India has had observer status in the Arctic Council, the primary inter-governmental forum for cooperation on Arctic environmental and development issues.

The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities, and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, particularly issues of Arctic sustainable development and environmental protection.

Members of the Arctic Council: The Ottawa Declaration recognises Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America as Arctic Council members.

What is the Arctic’s Importance to India?

The importance of the Arctic region stems from the shipping routes that pass through it.

According to a study published by the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, the Arctic’s negative effects are not only affecting the availability of mineral and hydrocarbon resources, but are also changing global shipping routes.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, India can contribute to ensuring the stability of the Arctic.

The region is of enormous geopolitical importance because the Arctic is expected to be ice-free by 2050, with world powers rushing to exploit the region’s abundant natural resources.

India’s Arctic Policy, titled ‘India and the Arctic: Building a Partnership for Sustainable Development,’ will be implemented in March 2022.

Bulletin’s News

Space Bricks

Researchers from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have devised a method for producing’space bricks.’

The team demonstrated how, with the help of bacteria and urea, the slurry-casting method is used to create’space bricks’ from Martian soil.

The’space bricks’ were created using the Microbial Induced Calcite Precipitation (MICP) technique, in which certain bacteria can precipitate calcium carbonate using soil under the right conditions.

These’space bricks’ can be used to build building-like structures on Mars, allowing for human settlement on the red planet.

Method of Slurry Casting – First, a slurry was created by combining Martian soil, guar gum, Sporosarcina pasteurii bacteria, urea, and nickel chloride (NiCl2).

Researchers built a device called MARS to simulate the conditions on Mars while creating the brick (Martian AtmospheRe Simulator).

Benefits –

 The slurry-casting method ensures that the bricks are less porous, which was a problem with previous methods of producing Martian bricks.

The bacteria infiltrate deep into the pore spaces, using their own proteins to bind the particles together, reducing porosity and resulting in stronger bricks.

Difference –

 In the past, the team used a similar method to make bricks out of lunar soil.

The previous method, however, could only produce cylindrical bricks, whereas the current slurry-casting method can also produce complex-shaped bricks.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Sarmat

The Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile was successfully tested by Russia.

The Sarmat is a nuclear-capable Russian liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile.

This weapon with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) can be deployed with 10 or more warheads on each missile.

It is claimed to have the world’s longest range of target destruction.

Sarmat, dubbed Satan-2 by Western analysts, is designed to elude anti-missile defence systems with a brief initial boost phase, providing enemy surveillance systems with a narrow window to track.

The name Sarmat is derived from nomadic Sarmatian tribes who lived between the sixth and fourth centuries BC in what is now Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

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