The controversial Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on April 22, 2013 by Mr Jaipal Reddy, Minister, Science and Technology. If passed, the BRAI bill which primarily promotes Genetically Modified (GM) crops, will result in widespread farming of GM crops in India. The bill will help multi-national companies like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta to take control of the food supply system in our country. It will directly affect us and future generations who will be deprived of natural food sources. This impending issue led to the 'No to GM food and the BRAI bill' crop circle campaign by Greenpeace volunteers in various places in India like Ahmadabad, Bangalore and Delhi between May and June 2013.
Our practical training sessions started in mid-April at Delhi with more than 20 volunteers from different parts of the country. Every member in the team was in high spirits to participate in the training sessions and learn about crop circles. Before getting into the team I wondered about crop circles being created by aliens from other planets. I found out that crop circles appeared all over the world during the last decade. Lucy Pringle's book "Crop Circle, The Greatest Mystery of Modern Times" helped me to clear all my doubts and the mystery behind crop circles.
We started the first session with self-introduction and basic geometry. After about 18 years I started to rediscover the various measuring devices inside the geometry box. After three days of practical training all of us were able to understand the different types of measurements and the fields we were supposed to work on.
Our first crop circle was planned to be in Nana Chiloda village in Ahmadabad, Gujarat on May 28. I reached Ahmedabad along with my friend Ajay Gowda from Bangalore by bus on the night of May 26. The temperature was 32 degrees and it reached 41 degrees next day morning. The team leaders Senthil Kumar, Reny Lopez and Ali Abbas were our only inspiration other than water and Electrol in the field. After a final brief and preparation on May 28 at 4:00am, we walked for about two km to reach the field. We completed the crop circle within four hours.
After the successful crop circle in Ahmadabad, we started our journey to Bangalore on the very next day. After the 24-hour long bus journey when we reached Bangalore it was raining and the temperature was 23 degrees. The team was confused about the crop field because of the thunder storm and heavy rains. Reny, Bushan and I visited the field the next morning to observe the situation. When we reached the crop field, we were hopeless seeing the plight of the field and came back disheartened. When we informed the situation to Senthil the response from him was a long silence. After some discussions with the team, it was decided to skip the Bangalore leg of the campaign. But after a while we recognized that we were not quitting but rather hiding from our creativity. The very next day we decided to do the crop circle anyway by taking it up as a challenge. It was strong team work that saw the last crop circle being completed.
Five more volunteers from Bangalore joined us and after our briefing and preparation we headed to the field. On the field we decided against our earlier plans. When we started the measurements and the flattening of the crops we were getting more exhausted by Bangalore's cold weather than we were by Ahmadabad's heat. Annie, a volunteer from Bangalore who was assigned to maintain the Base Camp supply job, was running around to satisfy calls for Electrol and water every five minutes. After about four hours of hard work and dedication the giant "E"came out beyond our expectations.
Our next destination was Delhi. We reached Delhi the next morning around 11:00am and decided to do some preparations on the same day. The field was about 35 km away from the Greenpeace guest house. When we reached the field we were happy that the crops were fully grown.
Four more volunteers from Delhi and one from Mumbai joined the team for the next day's crop circle. We started around 3:00 am the next day for our final crop circle. The briefing was done in the field itself and we started the work before 6:00 am.
We were confident after two successful crop circles. We planned to make a giant "G" and "E" along with the stop symbol. When the sun reached above our head the temperature reached 37 degrees exhausting us more than Ahmadabad and Bangalore. Also, the number of volunteers being less made our work slower. Each hour made it hotter and more tiresome. After toiling for nine hours in the field we successfully completed the crop circle and headed to the Greenpeace guest house for a long and much needed rest.
From the next day's newspaper we realized that we had done some good work in the field because the picture of the Crop Circle was good enough to spread the message "NO TO GM YES TO FOOD SAFETY".
The farmers who helped us with the crop circle were very hard working and dedicated. I hope that our message reaches many people and these farmers are not pulled into the evil business structure of the GM monopolists!
Bibin Chandran is a Greenpeace volunteer.
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