Friday, August 7, 2009

‘Juicy’ activism drives healthy food alternative on IIM-A campus

This is refreshing news that Siddharth Jaiswal has succeeded in "Sowing the Seeds of Consciousness" to awaken the elite alumini at IIM -Ahmedabad. Raising a dash of awareness on genetically modified foods is the critical need of the hour. At least IIM-A director, Samir Barua understands the frightening impact of crop species or the harm it does to our bodies, and wishes to revisit our food policies. That is the way forward. Thank you Samir.

It certainly is a sound start for Siddharth to introduce the concept of safe foods but wish to caution you all that once the GM genie is released into our environment, your entire biodiversity, one by one will get contaminated leaving you to the mercy of the transnational giants. You can be rest assured then, NO amount of organic foods can save you as through cross pollination the organic fields will get destroyed leaving toxic trails and a toxic you.

Food for thought - Since when were herbicides safe for growing our food???How come such lethal contaminants when introduced into your food chain not glare you in your face?

As informed consumers you have choice - Choose GM foods to create a pesticide factory in your gut/intestines for the rest of your life or choose to Say NO to GM foods!!!

Well, earlier this year, I did have the fine opportunity to initiate a dialogue with the Dean Academic Trilochan Sastry at IIM - Bangalore. Mr Sastry was extremely helpful on issues concerning 250 underprivileged children for a school run by my sister, a reputed social worker. But when i voiced the dire concerns re the hazards of genetically modified foods, interestingly, Prof Sastry was all for safe foods evoking a personal concern but to carry it through to the whole campus, a rather disappointing, passive luke warm response.

Since the spark has now been kindled, lets hope the Dean will change his mind. I will be more than delighted to raise awareness at IIM. To keep you all abreast....soon after the launch of "MY Right to Safe food" in March 2009, almost each day we get invited to various institutes/corporates/ schools/ spiritual centres for the screening of the 28 min film "Poison On The Platter" followed by a 20 min talk by me on "Indian versus Global scenario on GM foods". And then a 10 min Q&A session.

The feedback received from many consumers as we campaign.... they have limited access to safe food outlets and limited access to organic vegetable seeds. So, we embarked on a sound mission - "With a problem, carry a solution" We consciously decided that when we get invited to locations, we invite safe food outlets based in that location to distribute fliers, display their organic produce or even sell. Besides this, all publicity material of Annadana's displaying biodiversity, membership forms, booklets like compost composting, organic growth promoters, SRI etc along with a beautiful array of Annadana vegetables growing in season along with a display of wide variety of OP vegetable seeds.

We drive home one strong message to consumers - "Wake up and do take charge of your own food", you cannot go wrong!!!

In solidarity

Sangita Sharma


Adam Halliday Tags : IIM-ahmedabad Posted: Thursday , Aug 06, 2009 at 0037 hrs Ahmedabad:

It is an example of entrepreneurship mixed with shades of activism. After having started a unique juice centre, an IIM-A alumnus has come up with the concept of an organic food stall that has organic material in its interiors and a dash of awareness on genetically modified (GM) food. Siddharth Jaiswal opened his niche eatery at the institute on Wednesday.

Besides serving a range of dishes, juices (without artificial colouring), mocktails and salads, one of the reasons for opening the stall, called Joos, is to spread awareness against GM food.

“Starting an organic food stall was one way of making the public realise what the pitfalls of GM food really are,” said Jaiswal.

Joos formerly stood in a corner at Ahmedabad’s C G Road. On the door and walls are pasted posters of ‘I am no lab rat’ campaign, a nationwide movement that alleges GM food can seriously harm humans, and that it has been introduced in India without adequate safety tests and public debate.

"We know GM food is bad for us and we can say no. But for those who don't, it is sadly 'normal' food," said Rahul Kashyap, who was present at the stall's campus opening.

IIM-A director, Samir Barua, who inaugurated the stall in the presence of about 50 people, called Joos theme of organic food "great" and said, "I really don't understand the scientific findings about GM food or their long-run impacts, but if it is going to destroy crop species or cause harm to our bodies, then we will need to re-look our food policies."

Awareness about GM food and its side-effects, and campaigns to spread awareness, are low-key in Gujarat, and are spread by a loose medley of organic food enthusiasts, academicians and activists.

Among them is Jatan, a Vadodara-based NGO that organises meetings for farmers and consumers, distributes pamphlets and brochures and collects signatures for petitions to the government, seeking to stop the onslaught of GM crops.

"We tell people about the science behind GM crops and the harm they can cause, and people get very frightened. The main problem is that there was and still is no public debate when a new technology like this is being introduced. People do not know about it, and they have no choice about what they eat," said Kapil Shah, one of Jatan's leaders.

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