Open letter to Health Minister Sriramulu
By A.R.Manikanth, well known journalist
Now you must be busy with assembly activities in Belgaum. How to react to the complaints/queries put forth by the opposition on the Government? How to impress upon MLAs from those parties to join the ruling party. How to expand the mining activities in Belgaum? At the same time you might also be planning various efforts to please general public and also senior people of the state.
But Sir, at the same time tension has been spread over the reports that GM food is entering Karnataka. It is also said that Brinjal, the low-cost vegetable and also the commonly used among all the households across all sections and classes is the victim. Environmentalists, experts, farmers and all those who have learnt about the ill-effects of bt varieties have firmly said that ‘Karnataka doesn’t want GM food’. The have also initiated ‘I’m no lab rat’ campaign. They have taken up this issue and protested in front of Vidhana Soudha and also your house. Protesters also demanded a statement against GM food from the Health Minister.
But Sir, You have not made up your mind to go public with a statement. Is it because you are not aware of the proposed health risks due to GM food or do you feel that it is important to support the projects of multinational companies with all necessary infrastructure than supporting the farming community.
At this juncture I would try to explain briefly about the background of GM food, the concept, is objective, beneficiaries of spreading the GM food, those who are susceptible, its impact on nature’s health including that of human being, and lastly the problem related to brinjal. I feel that at least after reading this write-up you would decide and make your stand public.
As you know, since long time, farmers have been growing brinjal in their farms and also backyard. Women always had one use or the other from this ‘costwise cheap’ vegetable, for preparing vangibath (brinjal rice), curry and a variety of dishes based on the variety and also the freshness. Udupi’s Gulla Sambar is as famous as North Karnataks’a ‘Eneegai’ . When vegetable prices rise high for several reasons like festival season, drought, reduced supply etc, brinjal used to remain as the first priority as its price never changed significantly. It is also believed to be a vegetable which needs minimum input.
Do you know what has happened? These companies are assuring that GM food will be a solution to India’s hunger problem. They are chosen our own brinjal for their experiments and are saying that they will do the field trials in Karnataka. If we agree for this bt experiment to be done in the state, it will be disastrous.
After all who are those who are ‘committed’ to experiment in Karnataka? They are from America. They can very well do these field trial activities in their country. But they do not want to do that. Because they know that such experiments would harm their environment. The soil fertility will decrease. This will also have a negative effect on the food crops that are commonly grown. The yield may decline every year. Knowing all these they have come to our country with a definite plan and necessary ‘inputs’. Our bureaucracy and scientists seem to be blindly supporting their ‘objective’ by producing research papers saying that ‘GM food is not harmful’. Do ‘adequate funds’ to these research projects influence such results?
America’s agricultural economy is dependent on exports. So they want to have a hold on the commonly used produces. So they are choosing such produces and experimenting on modify genetically. They seem to be interested in growing these vegetables in our country on contract basis. The produces are grown here (by our farmers on contract basis) and also sold here, but the money will go to their country.
Coming to brinjal, they want to inject the genes of spider, fish or some other organism to our beloved vegetable. Then will propagate that bt brinjal is the best and get a patent for that. Then our farmers are forced to buy the saplings from them. Our farmers will not even be in a position to protest against curbing their right to grow.
The propaganda is that since the use of insecticides and pesticides is totally reduced as the new variety is pest and disease resistant. The fact is that since they have injected poison into the gene itself, the produce itself will be toxic irrespective of the fact that they pesticides or insecticides are not sprayed. So consumers will be prone to several diseases including in the long term. It may affect heart, kidney, brain. Babies Children born to women consuming bt have higher chances of blindness. Health risks of gm food are yet to be known. So, by the time diseases are diagnosed and remedies are invented, millions of peoples would have lost their lives. This information is based on an article on the adverse effects of gm food written by Russian and Mexican scientists published in New Scientist journal.
Once bt brinjal enters the market it is not even possible distinguish it from our local varieties. They look very similar in colour, shape, size and even taste. But the impact is totally different.
After a period, when all realize the ill effects of BT food, it may not to retrieve back to native varieties. Even if we grow rice or wheat in the brinjal field, the produces will be toxic. All these would even reduce our lifespan.
India has enough potential to grow food for its consumption. Why should we compensate our health and environment for the well-being of others? Even the Union Health Minister has supported the campaign against GM food. Now it is your turn to join hands. A word from you against GM food would change the entire scenario in favour of our environment and farming sector.