Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Devastating news - Congratulations for being the chosen guinea pig

GEAC has approved Bt Brinjal in its meeting today, with three dissenting voices. Earlier, an Expert Committee which prepared a voluminous report after looking at all the independent analyses of Bt Brinjal and other concerns, found all such concerns "invalid" apparently. With more than 1500 land races of brinjal grown across India, our regulators have sown the wind, and the imminently we, our children the future generations shall get ready to reap the whirl wind in the form of loss of diverse land races, with a bonus of health risks. This is highly disturbing news.

International experience shows that many countries faced problems from the release of such foods but with the mounting pressure from civil society GM foods have been banned or a moratorium passed. Molecular biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini in his study had revealed that there was an antibiotic gene in Bt brinjal 1000 times more toxic. Now do we need herbicides in our guts? Our stomach will be the living pesticide factory, as in toxic human beings.

The report and research by Gilles Eric has been so casually overlooked by GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval committee) a rubber stamp body to the biotech industry. "US 'bribes' to Indian govt staff: CBI probe on, CVC alerted too". Featured today, No wonder the approval has come through so easily. See these links

It is a National shame that from a massive population like ours, only 41,000 letters have been faxed to Environment Minister Mr Jairam Ramesh. I would have thought the secrecy around this issue would have raised more concerns among people. But no. Consumers are taking it so lightly. Every third house you peep into has a cancer patient, is there no cause to worry still?

Now there is still hope, as this approval still has not reached the cabinet as yet. I will not give up, now allow us to be the chosen guinea pigs. Only civil society can topple such destructive policies by joining concerted forces. Raise alarm bells, provide platforms, wake up, shake up, create a stirring revolution, a riot but not let our fate be decided by the ill equipped corrupt bodies and government to decide what we are to eat.

Disheartening it was to interact with young reckless journalist Bosky Khanna from DNA. When i raised huge concerns on the feature covered by her "GM crops for flood-hit areas". I requested for clarity on why the article was one sided without giving out facts based on holistic information and informed choices to readers. Why, no research done on traditional flood resistant crops that widely prevail in our country? Her reaction was " Sangita I was asked to cover the event, so whatever information was given to me by University of Agricultural Science, All India Crop Biotechnology Association (AICBA ) I published. So its not my views and you cannot hold me responsible, however when i get to my office i will look into it". I am deeply appalled by her lack of professional insight. Biased information relayed as good news to readers has damaging impacts. Having worked well with the media for over two decade, i have met only fine conscientious journalists of repute. Bosky puts journalists to shame with her impunity and indignity in ethics. Its a shame that a proactive paper like DNA employs cut and paste talent, disguised as journalists!!!
You can read this biased link

Coming back to the issues on flood resistant crops. To cite about 8 states in our country, farmers still have flood and drought resistant crops that can withstand floods up to 45 days. Except that these superior traditional varieties carry with it no incentives of crown money for our government, nor scientists, so why improve their potential? The scientists cannot claim to possess even a single deep water rice variety suitable to the flood and drought regions. To say the least this is the diabolical state of affairs in our country.

Where as these GM varieties can withstand floods for 20 days only. Says Sajiv Anand, Director AICBA "we will persuade farmers to use GM seeds to get maximum yields". Disguised to help farmers but in reality farmers will have no choices but to spend masses amounts on GM seeds along with their corresponding chemicals. The greed to fill their already full coffers. Do you still not get it? Is the civil society so lost, daft that they cannot understand the crafty economies of scale by the GM proponents who are hand in glove with GEAC

India's rich diversity - the wealth of our country fast being destroyed by these corrupt bodies
The Varada basin is home to deepwater rice varieties like Nereguli, Karibatha, Sannavaalya, Karijaddu, Kani Somasale, Jenugoodu, Nettibatha, Kari kantaka, Edi kuni, and Karekal Dadiga.
Farmers in the Varada river belt have adapted to the fury of the river that flows in Sagar, Soraba and Sirsi taluks. The rivulet, which takes birth at Sagar, flows through Sirsi and Soraba for about 11 kms before joining the Tungabhadra. During its short journey, the Varada wreaks havoc and destroys thousands of acres of paddy fields when continuous rain swells the waterways. This puts at risk at least 30,000 people in 25 villages depending on it.
Flooding is an annual phenomenon here. However, it does not mean that farmers do not grow anything during the flood. They possess a unique wealth that enables them to grow paddy even in flooded conditions, and the varieties of rice can subsist deep standing water for a long period.

Karnataka has its own deep water rice varieties that have stood the test of time and survived for decades. The fury of the monsoons and the flooding of the fields on the banks of the rivers have not been able to destroy these varieties. But, in the face of mounting pressure from corporates, how long will farmers hold on to their heritage?

You can read further on flood resistant crops - link -

In solidarity

Sangita Sharma

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