“There is no love sincerer than the love of food,” George Bernard Shaw.
On the occasion of World Food day, Delhi saw sincere food lovers coming together and vowing to keep their food safe by opposing the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops in India. Delhiites celebrated the day at Dastakar Mela, Craft museum by making a rangoli and enjoying street-play performance on the issue of genetic modification.
World Food day marks the importance of agriculture and stresses on the fact that we must ensure that the food we produce and consume is safe and healthy. People are increasingly becoming brand conscious when it comes to their food preferences. While healthy food is the new mantra, there is very little attention given to the how our food is produced. GM food means an end to the concept of safe food.
The newly proposed Biotechnology regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill is one of the greatest threats to our food safety as it is being brought to promote the introduction of GM crops in India. It has become impossible to negate the dangers posed by the BRAI bill if it is introduced in the winter session of Parliament. The BRAI will become the sole authoritative body responsible for approving GM crops in our country. This will make things easy for bio-tech giants like Monsanto, who will find it convenient to get their GM crops approved and commercialised.
With this in mind, a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers staged a street play that highlighted the need for Indians to demand a public consultation on BRAI and use their right to information to find out what they are eating and if it is GM-free. The play traced the journey of the millions of Indian farmers caught in the ruthless nexus of GM crop cultivation. The play also looked at the growing consciousness of healthy eating in the urban crowd and how they are still largely unaware of the ill-effects of GM food and the consequences of the BRAI bill.
It was wonderful to see so many people pay attention to the play. The play seemed to have had an impact as a lot of people picked up the leaflets on GM food and the BRAI bill. Some of them were keen to join the movement to protect our food from genetic modification as well.
After the play, Mr Ajay Mahajan from Beej Bachao Andolan and Neha Saigal from Greenpeace India spoke about the need to stop the tabling of BRAI and say ‘no’ to GM food. Mr Mahajan has been propagating the benefits of traditional agriculture and seeds for many years now and when he spoke to the people, they seemed convinced in doing their bit to safeguard the biodiversity of the country by opposing the BRAI bill.
Now it was time to fill up the beautiful rangoli. Everyone was more than happy to help make this rangoli with organic seeds and vegetables. While making the rangoli people shared their concerns about GM food. The mothers present there were very worried about the health impacts of GM food on their children and took a strong stand against genetic modification.
The best part about the rangoli was that it was made of organic vegetables and seeds. It resembled a beautiful mosaic, where every small tile adds to the larger picture and is an essential part of the design. In the same way, the people of India form an essential part in deciding the kind of food they get to eat in the country. One sincerely hopes that the government recognises the voice of crores of Indians who stand against genetic modification, refrains from tabling the BRAI bill and brings in a legislation that ensures the safety of our food and farming from such risky technologies like GM crops instead.
Story by: Pari Trivedi. Images: © Greenpeace/Anshuman Akash