Thursday, October 29, 2009
Question of public debate on GM foods.
Many times I am asked by individuals, corporate heads "Why have we not called Mahyco for an public debate"? It appears to me that it is only us who are questioned, crying ourselves hoarse to awaken the public, when in reality, i suggest try reaching out to GM proponents who hide behind the shields of falsified claims by using 11 PR agencies to broadcast their manipulative findings without being confronted! Now, they never bother to invite us on any of their forums? The truth is - The GM proponents refuse to participate in any public debate.
Despite invites from director Ajay Kanchan and noted film maker Mahesh Bhatt on the making of the potent 28min documentary film, the GM proponents refused to comment nor appear, you can see it in the disclaimer for yourself.
Here again, Devinder Sharma has openly challenged them to a public debate, and to give the public informed choices, we await their acknowledgment. Recently, 24th Oct a one hour live programme on DD News "For and Against GM foods" had all my visitors and me captive.
Amidst a proactive audience, a articulate hostess who navigated the debate between a interactive panel comprising of Devinder Sharma from Forum of Food Security and Biotechnology, Suman Sahai from Gene Campaign, Mr Sompal ex Agriculture Minister against GM foods whose probing questions and their own findings stirred and ignited an uproar. Versus for GM foods was Dr Bansal, Principal scientist at the IARI New Delhi, along with another scientist (sorry whose name i cannot recall) from the Centre for Life Science at JNU who nervously kept referring, clutching to sheets of printed paper to share the manipulated evidence. The outcome clearly relayed evidence that the GM proponents have much to answer for, given the safety data by their own concerned scientific fraternity is cleverly overlooked and brushed under the carpet for reasons known.
We welcome such healthy debates which is in public interest and encourage TV channels, media to carry out more of these.
Mr Raju Barwale, let us have a public debate on Bt brinjal
Oct 30th 2009
It is probably late to comment on the press statement issued by Raju Barwale, Managing Director of the Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company (Mahyco), the developers of the Bt brinjal. Pardon me, since I do not read the propaganda sites of either Mahyco or Monsanto (and the tribe) I had missed this. Someone had very kindly sent it to me a few days back, and I couldn't resist the temptation to comment on it.
This media statement, pasted below, is dated Oct 14, the day the environment clearance came. Interestingly, Raju Barwale, in the press release says that " Mahyco is awaiting the decision of the GEAC for environment-release of the insect resistant Bt cotton." Well, Mr Barwale, you didn't have to wait for long. The GEAC had the same day rubber stamped the report that many believe was written by one of your consultants in Hyderabad. You certainly couldn't have expected anything better from a committee which is known to be notoriously anti-environment and anti-people.
The report of the EC-II is a sham. It is a scientific scandal.
You say that 25 biosafety tests were rigorously conducted. If that is true, I don't know why Dr Pushpa Bhargava, the Supreme Court's nominee, is still not convinced about the biosafety testing. Do you think that he does not know his science? And what about the scandalous manner in which the EC-II had simply brushed aside the objections raised by independent scientists, NGOs and others?
Do you think we don't know our science? Do you think the nation does not have the capability to question the veracity of the so called scientific claims that your company has made? If GEAC is comprising of stupid people and is stuffed with scientists who are known in scientific circles as " son-in-law " of the Department of Biotechnology (since most of them receive funding for their research project), it does not mean that we have to accept their flawed analysis.
I am throwing a challenge to you, Mr Raju Barwale. Come, let us have a public debate on the veracity of your scientific claims. You and me, anywhere that you desire. Let us publicly debate, and let the nation then decide.
Meanwhile, pasted below the press release (from mahyco's website) for those who missed seeing it:
Bt Brinjal - Media Statement
Mahyco is awaiting the decision of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) for environmental release of insect-resistant Bt brinjal. We look forward to a positive decision because it will help millions of our brinjal farmers who have been suffering from the havoc caused by the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (BFSB). Bt brinjal will help them tackle this pest in an environment-friendly manner and increase yields and farm income.
Insect-resistant Bt brinjal has been in development for nine years. It has been tested in full compliance with the guidelines and directives of the regulatory authorities to ensure its safety. It is the most rigorously tested vegetable with 25 environmental biosafety studies supervised by independent and government agencies. It has the same nutritional value and is compositionally identical to non Bt brinjal, except for the additional Bt protein which is specific in its action against the BFSB.
We believe in the soundness of the scientific basis of the regulatory system and the various studies and field trials carried out by various national research institutions, agricultural universities, etc., and in the future of this technology. Mahyco respects the decision of the GEAC and will provide any clarifications asked for. We are confident that we will be able to satisfy the GEAC about the safety of this technology for the environment and consumers, its usefulness to increase yields and farm income for brinjal farmers, and its beneficial impact on the environment and farm labour.
14th October, 2009