The volunteers at the Ministry of Agriculture
It was a hot summer morning in Delhi when we got to know about the results of a nation-wide online survey conducted by Greenpeace, where 97% of the people said NO TO GM FOOD. The results of the poll were not very surprising, but what really surprised us was the continuous support of the Minister of Agriculture, Sharad Pawar, to GM crops even after so much lobbying and public outcry against it.
We have been following the GM food debate and have always been concerned about our food safety and security. We quite often discuss the dangers that GM crops pose to our health and environment. It is highly disappointing and a matter of great concern to see a public representative completely ignore and not care about the interests of the very people he is there to represent. It sometimes scares us as to what will happen if he continues to function in the same manner i.e. against public interest.
Since Mr Pawar was turning a blind eye on the continuing opposition to GM crops and food, we found it absolutely necessary to challenge and talk to the Minister of Agriculture directly. However, repeated efforts to get a formal meeting with the minister to deliver a letter failed. We decided on a different strategy and got into vegetable costumes and stood outside the Agriculture Ministry and did not move from there until we got permission to deliver the letter, raising concerns on the promotion of GM crops.
In that moment, the heat, the sweat or the costumes were the least of our concerns. We were there to represent those 97% of people who said no to GM food and to tell the minister that WE ARE NOT LAB RATS and he cannot convert the country into a laboratory for the testing of GM crops based on a fallacious argument of them being necessary for food security. A Greenpeace India briefing paper exposes the facts behind the myth that GM crops are necessary to feed India’s growing population.
We succeeded in conveying our message and delivering the letter but only after standing there, sweating, for almost half an hour. We were all smiles after that and full of hope. We hope that the minister will listen to the scientists, farmers and concerned people like us and understand the scientific evidence present instead of listening to the biotech seed companies blindly. We sincerely hope he does not lead our country down the dangerous path of GM crops.
Suman Kasana and Ajay Gowda are volunteers with Greenpeace India.