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From the Vice Chancellorís Desk

 

Dr. D.D. Patra
Vice-Chancellor

Direct effects of soil or its constituents on human health are through its ingestion, inhalation or absorption. The soil contains many infectious organisms that may enter the human body through these pathways and cause different types of illness. It also provides organisms on which our earliest antibiotics are based. Indirect effect of soil arise from the quantity and quality of food that human consume. Trace elements can have both beneficial and toxic effects on humans, especially where the range for optimal intake is narrow. We focus on four trace elements (iodine, iron selenium and zinc) whose deficiencies have substantial effects on human health. World population will be doubled by next 25-30 years. India is not far behind as its population will surpass that of China to be the most populas country in the world. As the population increases issues of food security become more pressing, as does the need to sustain soil fertility and minimize its degradation. Lack of adequate food and food of poor nutritional quality lead to differing degrees under-nutrition, which in turn causes ill health.

Soils and lands are finite sources and agricultural land is under severe competition from other uses like industrialization, urbanization and other non-farm activities. Relation between soil and health are often difficult to extricate because of many confounding factors present. Nevertheless, scientific understanding of soil processes and factors that affect human health are enabling greater insight in to the effects of soil on our health.

Soils of urban environment has received increased attention in the last few years, and they too pose a number of human health questions and challenges. Concepts such as soil security may provide a frame work within which issues on soil and human health can be investigated using multidisciplinary and trasdisciplinary approaches that include soil science, agronomy, agricultural sustainability, toxicology, epidemiology and the medical sciences will facilitate the discovery of new antibiotics, a greater understanding how soil can be utilized for investigating soil white biology. Although much progress was made in understanding the links between soil and human health over the last century, there is still much that we do not know about the complex interaction between them.

 

 
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