Thursday, September 17, 2009

Drive to awaken consumers from all walks of life

Traditional Inauguration - Baramagouda, Subhash Sharma, Subhash Mehta,Dr Claude Alvares, Sangita Sharma and Dr Ramakrishnappa

Greetings from "My Right to Safe food"

Both the South Asia Conference(SAC) at the UAS 10-11th Sept, Bangalore followed by the Organic Mela at Lalbagh, 12-13th Sept was a huge success. The feedback received from our own farmer participants, scientists, agronomists, consumers, NGO's and the visiting Third World Network foreign delegates from Malaysia, Bhutan, Nepal and host other countries took back with them the wealth of traditional knowledge techniques to overcome the current agrarian crisis created by the faulty policies of the government who are hand in glove with greed driven private and transnational companies.

Sharing and demonstration of our age old techniques by farmers from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and more be it on conservation of seeds, to natural pest control measures to soil regeneration techniques was done with such ease by our Green Guardians zealously wishing to transform the mindsets of many more.

The number of new age farmers as in urban farmers wishing to indulge in these time tested methods was indeed very reassuring.

I am delighted to share that the two day seminar at UAS, we had the pleasure of traditional organic meals being served on both days to over 600 delegates. Not to forget, a millet indulged dinner was a great treat, cooked by the empowered farmer women from DDS. Interacting with them is always a joy.

The feedback received from the participants was encouraging. All organic ingredients/produce was outsourced from marginal farmers bringing a cheer as their relentless drive sure was paid off by an assured income, well worth all the weight in gold.

Then the two day "Organic Mela" at Lalbagh especially organised for consumers to broaden their awareness on the wide diversity that exists in our rich country. From varieties of traditional rice, to millets completely forgotten in our diets, to vegetables, grains and cereals were widely displayed and sold.

In so many years of being in the safe food movement, I have yet to see crowds of concerned consumers who were actually taking charge of their food by purchasing safe foods. But we need more consumers to wake up before it is too late....

This is only the beginning of providing marketing connects between marginal farmers and consumers without the middle man. It is truly gratifying that my mission to strive towards sustaining marginal farmers livelihoods is taking roots and with your timely support, I am sure we will continue in this endeavor.

In solidarity

Sangita Sharma

Please find below, the efforts of Green Peace to contact companies in India and asking them about their position on GM food. Based on their responses, they have classified them into two lists : a 'red' list and a 'green' list

The Green List: Companies in this list have assured us that they do not use genetically modified ingredients. We have confirmed this mostly through written declarations from companies and emails.

Interestingly"MTR Foods who was on the red list is now on the Green List as they have just declared they are GMO free. MTR is the only food company in India to have a comprehensive policy on GMOs. In an official response to Greenpeace, MTR Foods Ltd. stated, “We have a policy to use 100% natural ingredients and hence GM items are unacceptable.".

The Red List: Companies in this list may have products containing genetically modified ingredients. We have included them in the Red List after writing to them several times, following up with phone calls and several emails. This list includes:
Companies that have stated they would use genetically modified ingredients.
Companies that have responded to Greenpeace India, but have mentioned nothing
about their stand on using genetically modified ingredients. Companies that have not responded to Greenpeace India for over 45 days.
*It is possible that companies that have not responded are open to using GM
ingredients, unless they clarify otherwise. We alert consumers to keep an eye
out for their products.

Green List companies and Products

Pepsico India
Uncle Chips, Cheetos, Lays, Kurkure, Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Slice, Dukes,
ITC Foods
Kitchen's of India: Curry pastes, Strawberry and Mint Jam, Ready to Eat, Shredded
Mango Chutney; Aashirvaad Atta, Spices, Instant Mixes, Sunfeast biscuits, Sunfeast
Cookies, Mint-o, Candyman, Bingo
Ruchi Soya Industries
Mahakosh Oil, Ruchi Gold, Nutrela rice bran oil, Nutrela N'rich, Vanaspati, Bakery Fats Soya Foods
Dabur India
Dabur Chyawanprash, Hajmola, Pudin, Tomato Puree, Coconut Milk, Soups, Garlic
and Ginger Garlic Pastes, Real, Activ, Lemoneez, Glucose-D; Dabur Honey
Haldiram Foods
Mopleez Aloo Bhujia; Namkeens, Gulab Jamun, Soan Papdi, Kaju Katli, Besan Laddu;
Papads; Kala Khatta Squash, Cookies, Sherbets, Minute Khana, Pani Puri and Bhel
Puri, Chips, Baletos, Taka-tak, Whoopies, Royal Temptations, Gujarati Snacks, South
Indian Snacks

Red List companies and Products
AgroTech Foods
Sundrop Sunflower Oil, Crystal, Rath Vanaspati, Sudham (Mustard Oil), Act II Popcorn,
Healthy World (Dried Green Peas), Pudding Mix, Swiss Mix (Cocoa Mix)
Bambino Agro Industries
Vermicelli, Ada-Ada/Rice Ada, Soups, Namkeens, Sweets, Bambino Pasta, Instant
Mixes, Blended Spices
Bharti Enterprises
FieldFresh Vegetables, FieldFresh Fruits, FieldFresh Pre-cuts, Vegetable Noodle Mix,
Pizza Mix, Sambhar Mix, Green Chutney Mix
Britannia Industries
Tiger, Milkman, Good day, Daily Fresh Breads and Rusks, Cookies, Cakes, Butter, Dahi
Cadbury India
Dairy Milk, Five Star, Perk, Éclairs, Gems, Bournville, Celebrations, Cadbury Bytes,
Bournvita, Halls, Gums
Godrej Foods
Nutrine; Jumpin, Xs, Sofit (Soymilk), SmartCook Tomato Puree; Godrej Cooklite,
Godrej Oil and Godrej Vanaspati and Godrej Tea
Kellogg India
Kelloggs Corn Flakes
Hindustan Unilever
Brooke Bond, Lipton, Brooke Bond Bru, Kissan, Annapurna, Knorr; Kwality Walls
Nestlé India
Nestlé Everyday Whitener, Nestlé Slim Milk, Nestlé Dahi; Nescafe Classic, Milo,
Nestea, Maggi Noodles, Maggi Sauces, Maggi Pichkoo, Maggi Magic Cubes, Nestlé
Kit Kat, Nestlé Munch, Nestlé Bar-One, Polo, Nestlé Éclairs, Baby Foods: Cerelac,
Nestum, Lactogen.
Fresh Fruits; Fresh Vegetables; IQF Vegetables, Pickles, Jams, Tomato foods,
Squash, Fruit Drinks

Accidental contamination of non-GM crops may occur due to the polluting nature of
Genetically Modified crops. While this guide can provide a good basis for avoiding GM
food, the only guarantee is to stop the environmental release of GMOs.

All certified organic products are GM-free. No GM fruits, vegetables, or grains are sold in India as of today. However, there are 238 varieties of 56 GM crops (including 41 food crops) at different stages of trial across the country. The first genetically modified crop,

Bt Brinjal, is on the verge of approval. The scale of field trials of GM crops is so large and spread over, that there are huge possibilities of contamination of non-GM food crops.

The approval of a GM food crop would be a blow to the rights of the consumer to choose
safe food. Visit for an online version of this guide, and to know
what you as a consumer can do: get aware about GM foods and write to food companies
to demand GM-free foods.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Organic Mela on 12th and 13th September 2009 at MHS Hall, Lalbagh,

Greetings from MY Right to Safe Food

Following the South Asian Countries (SAC) - Organic Federation Association of India (OFAI) seminar on 10th and 11th Sept at GKVK on organic advanced techniques, we decided to extend this to consumers by creating an " Organic Mela" , at a central location Lalbagh. This is an awareness programme to understand the rich crop diversity and heritage of our country. Connecting producers to consumers. Organic food and health.

For those interested in training and introduction to organic farming and safe food, please find the schedule below. On the 13th Sept between 03.15 pm – 04.00 pm I will be delighted to share with you "Wonder world of Vegetables".

An opportunity for all to enrich themselves.....find out what biodiversity we will be losing out on, should GM foods be allowed entry.

Please extend this invite below to all your friends and family.

Look forward to seeing you all there.....

In solidarity

Sangita Sharma
Dear all,
Jaivik Krushik Society and OFAI have jointly organized an Organic Mela on 12th and 13th September 2009 at MHS Hall, Lalbagh, Bangalore.
The purpose of this Mela is to introduce the progress of Organic movement in Karnataka to outside state representatives and also to bring in awareness among the Bangalore consumers about the organic food products, agro diversity and food traditions.

In similar to the success of Brinjal Mela the Organic Farmers Groups, Non-government Organisations and Organic outlet holders/ Organic food buyers have once again come together in organizing this mela. The mela will also house an exhibition of diversity of vegetables, cereals and pulses and a large number of desi varieties.
In this regard we are planning to hold exhibition and sale of crop diversity, food products, reading materials and more.
We take great pleasure in inviting you to participate in this mega event . Pl confirm your participation.
Please find Organic mela Poster and Training Programme Schedule in attachment
Yours Truly,

G. Krishna Prasad
Convener,Organic Mela

Sahaja Samrudha

'Nandana', No-7, 2nd Cross, 7th Main, Sulthanpalya, Bangalore-560 037
Phone: 080-23655302 / 9880862058

Training programme and practical demonstration on

Organic Farming and Biointensive Gardens

12 – 13th Sept 2009.Lalbagh,Bangalore


Venue: Media Center, Lalbagh

12 th August 2009, Saturday

10.30 am

Inauguration: Dr.Claude Alvares
Director, Organic Framing Association, Goa

Chair: Dr.Ramakrishnappa,
Hon. President ,Jaivik krushik Society

Presence: Sri.Jayaram
Secretary, Jaivik krushik Society

President,Sahaja Samrudha

11.30 am-1.30 pm --- Natural Farming – Making farming profitable
Sri. Subhas Sharma, Maharastra

1.30 pm-2.30pm Lunch break

2.30 pm-3.15 pm --- Bio-Digester- Farmer innovation for bountiful yields
Dr.K.Ramakrishnappa, Additional Director of horticulture

3.15 pm-4.30 pm - - - Popular Organic Farming Practices of Tamil Nadu
Sri. Sunder Raman, Tamil Nadu

4.30 pm-5.00 pm --- Liquid manures
Dr. N. Devakumar, UAS, Banaglore

5.00 pm-5.30 pm --- Practical demonstration of Growth promoters
Sri.Jayadevaiah. Organic Farmer, Tamil Nadu

13th August 2009, Sunday

10.30 am -11-00 Organic Foods and Consumer awareness
Sri.N.Chandrakumar, Jaivik Krishik Society

11.00 am-12.00 am Millets –Miracle grains
Sri.P.V.Satheesh,Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad

12.00 am-12.45 pm Organic Food – Way to Good health
Sri.Kapil Sha , Jathan, Gujarat

12.45 pm-01.30 pm Supply Chain-Linking Producers and Consumers Sri.Ananthu, Restore, Chennai

01.30 pm-02.30pm Lunch break

02.30 pm –03.15 pm City Farming- Grow your own Food
Sri.Nagesh Hegade, Organic Gardener

03.15 pm – 04.00 pm Wonder world of Vegetables
Sangita Sharma, Annadana

04- 00 pm – 04.30 pm Roof top Gardening –Sky is the Limit
Anusuya Sharma, Writer and Gardener

04.30 pm - 05.00 pm City Farmer Experience
Sri.Manikandan, Gardener, Bangalore

05.00 pm - 05.15 pm Greening Bengaloor
Sri.Vinay Chandra, Green Gardeners Group

Friday, September 4, 2009

Biotech is not just GM interview with Dr Michael Antoniou in Down To Earth"

Michael Antoniou teaches Molecular Genetics at King’s College, London. In his spare time, he likes to help non-profits with information on the science of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Savvy Soumya Misra met him at a workshop in Delhi recently where he was vocal against GMOs. Edited excerpts

Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for environment and forests, recently said GM crop (Bt cotton) is acceptable but GM food (Bt brinjal) is not.

This is the first time I have heard somebody make this distinction. People who draw this distinction see cotton as a non-food product but they forget cotton seeds are used for oil, animals eat the stub after harvest and farmers are always in contact with cotton. There is evidence that these farmers have suffered allergic reactions; this needs an official follow-up though. Both environmental and health implications have to be taken into account.

Hazards of GMOs

Gene transformation is highly mutagenic. This leads to multi-organ toxicity affecting liver, kidney, gut, blood biochemistry and immune system. Acute signs of ageing and decreased fertility in animals fed with GM crops have also been reported.

The problem with herbicide-tolerant GM crop is it destroys not just weeds but biodiversity in general. Intense use of herbicide makes weeds resistant. In such cases, new herbicides are used—more damage to the environment, in other words. The other problem is the Bt crop, which produces the insecticide Bt toxin. Companies promote that insecticides need not be sprayed on Bt crops. This is wrong. Protection from Bt toxin in Bt crops is insufficient to fully protect them. One insect can be destroyed but another resistant to Bt toxin can then come in.

So, you face the risk of Bt toxin as well as insecticides.

Processed GM v GM crop

The argument that no adverse effects have been recorded among Americans is completely unscientific ( the US uses GM corn in its processed form such as chips, sweeteners). Animal feeding studies have been done on whole corn, not in its processed form. So, it is impossible to say if consumption of processed GM food has had any adverse impacts. Besides, consumers are not monitored. It might help to do a scrutiny of the American population in a controlled epidemiological manner.

How safe is Bt brinjal?

Bt toxin in animal studies has shown to cause allergic reactions and disrupt intestinal functions. If you cook Bt brinjal, the Bt toxin may break down and its toxicity may reduce. But the point is the main toxic effect that comes from GM food is not from the new gene but from the effects of the gene transformation process.

Recalling approved crops

Approval can be withdrawn. But if it is already in the field you are stuck with it. You can try and remove it from the food chain but this is going to be very difficult because of cross pollination between GM and non-GM crops. It will take many generations of cropping before the environment contamination level is reduced.

On biotechnology

GM is just one aspect of biotechnology. A more powerful use would be increasing gene maps of major food crops. Once a gene marker map is in place it can be used in breeding programmes. The plants can then be crossed. Gene marker assisted selection can be used to take offspring from the cross, map their genes and identify the plants that have by chance combined all the genes required. This has been successful in India to produce a highland drought tolerant variety of rice. Because this is a non-GM procedure, there are no safety considerations and the normal gene order is not disturbed.

Gene mapping can also be done to identify genes of high yield or better nutrients.