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GMOs: It’s your food stupid, its your fight!


From Eartha Mag: The game of migrating farmers to GM seeds has a familiar marketing line: We cannot feed the millions without GMOs – the exact line they fed us in the 50s during the Green Revolution. With the government’s adamant attempts to introduce them without public consultation or scientific debate, Sandeep Anirudhan raises some basic questions.

Are you going to let the Big Food and Chemical Corporations and Governments decide your food?

Sandeep Anirudhan, Earthamag.org

Futurescape: News headlines in the year 2050

More mutant humans are being born all over the world, displaying strange bodily formations, lifetime handicaps, irregular behaviour, extreme violence. Mutant humans are spreading terror all over the world, and populations are retaliating against them out of fear. This is leading to wars and general breakdown of law and order worldwide. The forests have all been reduced to deserts, due to unexplained infestations, that wiped out all natural plants. The world is facing an apocalypse.

It all began a few decades ago. The first GM crops were allowed into farms in the early 21st century. At that time, they were claimed to be perfectly safe. The symptoms began showing only after many decades. However, by then it was too late, the GM strains had mixed with other strains of crops and now were not reversible. There is no escape from this.

Is this an imagination running wild? An exaggeration? If you objectively compare what the Green Revolution was marketed to be with what it has turned out to be, you wouldn’t feel that way any more.

When I look at the issue of Genetically Modified (GM) crops and the Government’s adamant attempts to introduce them without public consultation or scientific debate, as a lay person, really basic questions come to mind. Questions such as:

  • Will introducing GM crops offer me health and nutrition in the future?
  • Are GMOs in alignment with nature?
  • Is GM food going to be safe for future generations?
  • What is the record of artificial methods of crop improvement over the past few decades? Were they beneficial or detrimental?

 

Then a set of serious questions strike me:

  • Why is the Government sneaking GM crops upon us without due process? 
  • Why is a democratic government fighting citizens’ wishes in this particular instance? Who is it working for?
  • Why is the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) avoiding scientific discussions and transparent public consultation? Why this trust deficit?
  • What are they doing to verify if GMOs are safe for us to eat, and safe for the environment they grow in?

 

Doing a bit of research I discover an entire pandora’s box. This industry that deals with seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides is mired in controversy.

Without going into the entire history, I shall take just the most recent big transformation devised by this industry globally – the Green Revolution – to explain my point. We all know what it was meant to be a saviour of nations and satisfy global hunger. But this entire storytelling is suspect. It is quite obvious that it was a cunning marketing campaign by one of the most devious industries to take control of the world’s food chain.

What is the Green Revolution really?  It is a replacement of everything natural in a farm with chemical inputs and hybrid seeds which support each other. What that means is simply that farmers who were independent of any providers were manipulated into becoming consumers of everything they once got on their farms for free, influenced by a false promise of MORE. More yield, more output, more crop resistance.

Essentially, it turned farmers into consumers. Farmers were sold on the hybrid seeds that these companies promoted, but then these seeds only work with chemical fertilisers. And since the chemicals did not require a healthy ecosystem to work, farmers destroyed their farms with their new found freedom from the ecosystem, thus destroying their environment, and losing their sensitivity and relationship with their land.

If you understand nature, you know that the land provides everything if maintained naturally. With properly covered soil, proper vegetation, intercropping, seeds collected from previous crops, farms thrive and do not require any external inputs. Big corporations were aghast that they were not profiting from this largest segment of producers of food, which is the biggest business there is since we all need to eat everyday.

They devised the Green Revolution as a means to change this and make us all dependent on them. It was no mean feat; it took them decades to infiltrate governments, bureaucracies, agricultural universities, scientific institutions and research bodies. Much like how the pharma industry destroyed the holistic health sector with the false promise that modern medicine is a cure. When they were done, government officials, politicians, professors, agricultural universities, agriculture departments were all corrupted to parrot their mantra – ‘Use chemicals, get more profits’.

Connecting the dots

The game may be new but the companies behind it are the same seed, fertiliser, pesticide and herbicide manufacturers. The game of migrating farmers to GM seeds has a familiar marketing line: We cannot feed the millions without GMOs – the exact line they fed us in the 50s when the Green Revolution was being marketed.

Looking at a few instances of GM seeds that were introduced and how they fared, you see that this round of exploitation of our plates will not be as simple as the Green Revolution. Take the example of Bt Cotton which was also released into the country quite surreptitiously without proper approvals. Farmers who, influenced by the marketing, migrated to Bt Cotton are now the worst affected in the country. Their crops don’t fare well, the supposed benefits of genetic modification which made them pest-resistant have worn off because nature decided to upgrade the pests, and now due to huge losses, thousands of farmers have committed suicide.

The larger damage this has caused is that almost 95 percent of native cotton plants have been lost. We just cannot put a value to the loss. Once we lose all our traditional seeds, for which we did not have to depend on anyone, we become slaves to the corporations who can sell again and again to our farmers.

Simply put, this is the easiest way to colonise a country and its people! Make them dependent on your seeds which are engineered to be dependent on certain chemicals in order to perform. So first, farmers have to buy the seeds from you, then the chemicals. You have the farmers cornered and the governments in your pocket. Well crafted, wouldn’t you say?

The road ahead

The manner in which the GEAC is rushing decisions without revealing their basis, and avoiding public disclosure means they are following the dictates of some small lobby that intends to profit massively by the allowing of GM Crops.

By turning the entire population of the country into guinea pigs, our government officials are waging war on its own citizens, playing with our lives and futures to benefit a few. There is another word for this: genocide.

For our own sakes, and for the sake of our future citizens, I hope the decision to allow GMOs into our fields is never passed. Or else, I dread the day, a few decades later, when our children will be similarly analysing the decision made now against all warnings, just like we examine the ‘Green Revolution’ of the 50’s.

The Green Revolution was touted as safe, but little did we realise that all its negative effects would take decades to manifest. But, this damage is reversible, with a lot of effort. All it requires is that we stop using chemicals and hybrid seeds on our farms, so the soil returns to health and hardy native seeds revive farmers’ fortunes, and restore our good health.

Now that we are attempting to manipulate the basic nature of plants in rather devious ways, how can anyone with all this previous wisdom, advocate that we play with our future? What if, like the Green Revolution, the GM movement goes bad, but this happens only 30-40 years from today? We are looking at a horror story scenario. Once we release GM crops into farms, there is no way to limit them from pollinating non-GM crops. They would all get mixed up, leaving no specific areas where GM plants grow. We cannot reverse this contamination from GM crops all over the world? So, should we even set this Frankenstein’s monster loose? Is that good decision making?

Sandeep is the founder of Bangalore-based Aikyam Community for Sustainable Living.

RELATED
T.S.R. Subramanian: Say no to GM mustard
T.S.R. Subramanian, The Hindu
The promises of higher yield and lower pesticide usage which induced many, including myself as the then Textile Secretary, to welcome Bt cotton have now been belied. The main advantage now trotted out in favour of GM mustard is increased yield—there’s sufficient evidence that this claim is a myth.

GM Mustard in India: Five unanswered questions
Prof. Gilles Eric Séralini & Chef Jérôme Douzelet, The Indian Express
Each time with the GM debate, agro-business and biotech industry puts huge pressure on the Indian government to destroy food culture and replace many old nutritious-rich foods with by patented toxic monocultures. By threatening India with the GM Mustard, corporations are destroying the centre of diversity of mustard for the world.

 

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