GMOs in our food: Act now or forever hold your peace – Oct 2016

The issue at hand is the impending approval of a GM food crop for cultivation in India with the potential approval of GM Mustard by the government. Apart from the direct impact of GM mustard there is no doubt that this would completely set the precedent to lay the door wide open for GMOs in other food crops. There are many groups working hard over the last several years to highlight and bring awareness of these issues to the general population. I have provided relevant links at the bottom of the email where you can find some of the information gathered by these groups and ways in which we can support their efforts.

Two points that I wanted to frame and provide some perspectives on, were:

a)    How we are losing the plot
b)   Why GMOs can be considered WMDs of agriculture

Losing the plot

As with many things today, it would seem puzzling as to why so many distinguished and prominent scientists, policy makers, political leaders, corporations would push for GM food crops if it has grave consequences. As with most things, here too the reasons these things unfold as they do are complex. Perhaps a simplistic summary can be along the following lines:

  • There are those in the above group who are driven by a genuine concern to solve the problem of feeding the ever-growing population and see this as a possible way, and their concern makes them overlook the consequences of their action.
  • There are those, even some Nobel laureates, who have bought into the GM idea in the belief that technology can help solve all our problems. This delusion is a direct consequence of intellects that have fundamentally failed to reflect more deeply on the philosophical underpinnings of the issue.
  • There are those that perhaps look upon this as just a lucrative job or livelihood and have by default abdicated their responsibility to evaluate the consequences and therefore implicitly endorsed it.
  • There are those that are amoral and have cynically chosen to exploit the GM movement for short term commercial benefit. These are also usually the powerful lobbies that exploit the prevailing apathy and misrepresent the facts to gain support.

The one common flaw in all of them is the basic premise that we need GMOs to solve the problem of having to feed the ever growing population. Anyone who has applied permaculture principles and practiced sustainable bio-diverse organic farming long enough can say with confidence that there are other ways to meet the needs of growing population and create a sustainable human habitation on the planet that can go on indefinitely.

Weapons of mass destruction

It is vital that we frame the issue of GMOs at the right level of criticality in our minds. We sometimes thump our chests with pride that we are a 10,000 year old living civilization and culture and yet with not so much as a peep, with the introduction of GMOs, we will have wiped out the last vestige of the great Indus civilization – the traditional farming practices and the evolutionary memory and local intelligence contained in the native diverse seed stock.

Our traditional farming methods are rooted in respect and love for nature and a spirit of nurturing and of gratitude for its abundance. Western industrial farming is rooted in the idea of waging war on the soil and weeds and conquering nature to seek disproportionate gains with the inevitable collateral damage. In this unfolding of western industrial farming methods, fertilizers can be likened to conventional weapons of war, pesticides can be likened to chemical weapons of war and GMOs can be likened to biological and nuclear weapons of war. At least in the field of defense, biological and nuclear weapons are used merely as deterrents whereas in the field of agriculture we are talking about active deployment of GMOs. Make no mistake about it – GMOs, much like biological and nuclear material, introduce irreversible, long term changes in the ecosystem that cannot be contained. Any farm can be contaminated – in fact will be contaminated, because the farm next door has GMOs. Imagine losing the right to exercise your 10,000 year-old inheritance – the right to practice sustainable organic farming or eat sustainably organically grown food.

What you could do

This is a rare time when I have personally taken to urging folks to take some action. If you feel you connect with the message above, then I would request that you show your support to some of the groups that are spear-heading the formal protests.  Five things that you could do are:

  1. There is a missed call number campaign. Please make a free missed call to 044-33124242 to register your stand to stop GM mustard.
  2. There is an open and ongoing petition link here – please sign the petition-
  3. GM-Free Karnataka and Karnataka Alliance for Safe Food have announced a ‘Sasive Satyagraha’ event in Bangalore on Oct 2, 2016, to be held at the Gandhi Statue @ Anand Rao Circle, Bangalore from 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. This is primarily a citizens’ awareness and a call-to-action campaign to protest against the approval of the commercial release of GM Mustard by the GEAC. Even if not participating in the fast, it is a vital show of support if you are able to be there for a short time.
  4. Write a letter to the Prime Minister indicating your stand against GM Mustard.
  5. Pass this along to others that may relate to the message.

This is one of the most important issues of our time. I hope you see it that way too and act accordingly.

Best Wishes