Where GMO food is a major concern for the public and environmentalists in other countries, in India, the environment minister seems to be a comfortable supporter of the government’s eagerness to open the floodgates to GMO vending corporations!
Geneticist Suman Sahai, founder of Gene Campaign in India, in her recent interview warns the nation of the dangers of GMO and lists the following reasons why (in her words) India does “not have the competence to play around with GMO food.”
1. No technological expertise: Our biosafety (prevention of risks associated with biotechnology processes) competence has not improved at all. We need officials trained in genetics who can understand the biosafety data. We have none.
2. No proper field trials: The GMO crop trials are understood [but] nobody follows them. Take the trials of Bt rice conducted in Jharkhand in 2004. We found that one of the farms was in the midst of the farmers’ fields. No signboard, no fencing, no containment of any sort. One farmer put in charge of it had been threshing the produce and may have even eaten it. Later we found volunteer plants (those that grow on their own) had come up on the farm. We sent them for testing and of course they were GM.
3. Government corruption and greed: When we informed the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) that Jharkhand has the highest genetic diversity of rice and such lapses contaminate everything, they sent us a showcause notice for entering the field instead of taking action against shoddy trials.
4. Danger of losing biodiversity: Both brinjal and mustard [two crops India are allowing in] are cross-pollinating plants, so the consequences will be no single, non-GM mustard or brinjal left. Some say you can segregate, but have we managed to segregate Bt cotton? It has gone everywhere.
5. Larger impact on the environment: Uniformity of biodiversity will have its own environmental implications. There is a well-known phenomenon called gene silencing. Very often plants altered genetically don’t survive because you have interrupted the natural process. Those that do survive, certain genes may stop expressing. What can get silenced we have no idea. Yet we are ready to risk the entire germplasm.
6. Risk of Toxicity in food: Brinjal belongs to the Solanaceae family. It’s the family of not just tomato, chilli and potato but also datura (angel’s trumpets) and belladona. These are some of the most toxic plants. We can’t (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on November 27, 2014
The reason I’m taking a curious interest in Kim Kardashian’s plans to eat her placenta, is because I’m actually keen to see how American doctors react to this. And there’s a reason why.
One of my oldest and closest friends is Hmong American. The Hmong are an ethnic minority from SE Asia, and live in an extensive community in mid-western USA, a community which I’ve visited frequently with my friend when I stayed with her parents or relatives. My friend’s mother was a shaman, and she worked with local hospitals translating concepts of health, illness and healing from the Hmong perspective for American doctors with Hmong patients, and vice versa.
Giving birth in ancient Egypt
When a woman gives birth, the Hmong believe that the placenta should be carefully buried under or near the family house, because it holds and guards the spirit of the child. They believe that if this is not done, then the child will fall very ill and could even die. There are many cultures that have similar beliefs. The Egyptians believed that a child is born with two souls, and one of them was housed in the placenta. So after birth, particularly for royalty, a special tomb would be erected for the burial of the placenta, like for a person. Interestingly where placenta was or still is eaten, as in China, Jamaica, and among smaller tribes as the Araucaninan of Argentina, it is usually ceremonially eaten by close relatives or fed to the child. This is symbolic of the same philosophy – i.e. preserving the spirit of the child within the home or by the family.
The problem for the Hmong living in the U.S. was, that American doctors couldn’t fathom this. They believed that the Hmong were actually eating the placenta (though they actually weren’t)! Placenta-eating is not (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on August 25, 2013
Does the government of India take its citizens to be so DUMB so as to not see this connection?
This month the government bulldozed ahead with what it calls the ‘Food Security Bill‘ which it claims will help feed the poorest people for free. The fact is that elections are just around the corner and the government feels it needs after 9 years in power, to do something that will give the poor incentive to vote for them. This is obvious to everyone except to the government in power for some reason.
Yet, what is absolutely astonishing is how simultaneously over the last 2-3 months, the period building up to the launch of the Food Security Bill, there has been an unbelievable escalation in basic food prices. AND I MEAN UNBELIEVABLE! The prices have shot by more than 5-6 times the cost they were 3-4 months ago. Onions which costed Rs.10/kg are now hitting Rs.70/kg. Middle-class people are complaining in India. So what are the poor to do? 50% of India earns Rs.400/ or less per month. What are they going to eat?
BUT HERE’S THE DIRTY GAME. MEDIA REPORTS ARE NOW SHOWING THAT OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS MIDDLE-MEN WHO TRADE IN FOOD AND VEGETABLES HAVE BEEN STOCK-PILING THEM IN WAREHOUSES TO ARTIFICIALLY JACK UP THE COST OF FOOD! [SEE THE VIDEO BELOW.]
ISN’T IT CONVENIENT? ARTIFICIALLY JACK UP THE PRICE OF BASIC FOOD SO THE POOR ARE DESPERATE, AND THEN LAUNCH A FOOD BILL PROMISING FOOD BILL?
IS THERE A GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION THAT WOULD TAKE GOVERNMENTS LIKE THIS TO TASK? ISN’T FOOD THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OF HUMANS? DOES ANY GOVERNMENT HAVE THE RIGHT TO PLAY SUCH FILTHY POLITICS WITH IT?
Posted by Rita Banerji on August 22, 2013
The joke in our family is that our cat, Kitty, wants to try out for the T.V. show Master Chef Australia! She is completely taken with the Master Chef aprons that my Australian friend Don, very generously mailed me, after I told him that I was addicted to the series.
My addiction is quite strange actually! Firstly, because I’m not an avid television fan. I was raised without T.V. and even later, never developed a compulsion for it. And secondly, of the little time I watch T.V., food or cooking programs are not on the list. (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on June 15, 2012
Some Indian sweets. The ones I generally pick are the ras-malais, the white balls in a bowl. There is a good reason why!!!
I grew up in a culture where we eat many foods, including rice and rotis with our hands. And in other cultures there are foods called ‘finger-foods’ like fried chicken and burgers and pizza, that are meant to be eaten with one’s fingers
BUT THE BIG RULE IS: one is allowed to put one’s finger only in one’s own food! Not in other people’s. This is what a lot of people, specially in India still don’t understand.
In a recent lab study there were about 4700 species of bacteria identified from swab samples taken from only 102 people’s hands. What that means is (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on May 22, 2012