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Monday, December 14, 2009

Padyatra for awareness against GM foods


In the light of the fact that India is standing on the verge of the Union Government’s permission being granted to the first Genetically Modified (GM) food crop in the country – Bt Brinjal – there is a more urgent need than ever to create an informed and democratic debate on this issue pertaining to all of us.

GM crops are created by the unnatural insertion of foreign genes into host DNA of a plant, which leads to numerous unpredictable changes that are potentially dangerous for health. There are a host of other concerns too, centred around this technology and its deployment in our food and farming systems. Bt Brinjal has been artificially created by insertion of a bacterial gene (Bacillus thuringiensis-Bt ) to produce a toxin 24X7 inside the plant to target one pest-the Brinjal Fruit & Shoot Borer (it has to be noted that while many pests and diseases attack the crop, this technology is claimed as a solution to one such pest).

All the decision-making on Bt Brinjal happened based on the crop-developer's (i.e. Monsanto/Mahyco's) data, without any independent and long term studies.  What's more, independent analyses of the crop developer's biosafety data concluded that this Bt Brinjal is unsafe and unfit for human consumption.

On the other hand, a majority of Indians are still not aware of fundamental changes being made to their food, their right to know what they are eating and to be able to make informed choices is at stake here. They would also not be able to distinguish between GM and non-GM foods because they will look the same.

It is in this context that a Lok Chetna Padayatra is being proposed. This padayatra, i.e, journey on foot, is a collaborative effort of Zakir Hussain College and Youth for Safe Food. The main purpose of the walk is to create an informed debate on the issue of GM (Genetically Modified) foods, for the sake of ordinary citizens of India, to enable them to make informed and democratic choices about their food. This is to invite you to join us in large numbers in this Padayatra.

Padayatra beginning point: Zakir Hussain College
Date: December 17, 2009; Time: 9.30 am

Nayani Nasa - +91-9999-778-674
Ankit Kumar - +919313-537-417

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