Feb 7, 2009

How safe is the food you’ve been eating?

The documentary film Poison on the Platter was screened at India Islamic Cultural Centre in the capital recently. The film seeks to make people aware about Genetically Modified (GM) crops which have already made their way into the country.

The film, directed by Ajay Kanchan and presented by Mahesh Bhatt, seeks to promote the idea that it is our fundamental right to choose safe food.

The film makes a mockery of Indian government’s claim of not allowing import of any GM foods in the country as it conclusively demonstrates that supermarkets in India are flooded with harmful food stuff. The film also shows the hazardous impact that has been felt by countries in Europe and America after using GM crops for the last two decades. The film opened to a packed audience, most of who were visibly shattered and angry at how can they ensure what they eat is safe.

Post-screening, Mahesh Bhatt said, "As a child I remember seeing the Anacin ad. The ad stated that every four out of five doctors recommended it. I always wondered what the fifth doctor had to say. I wanted to know the voice of that one person who is not allowed to voice his opinion."

He added, "Ajay educated me about this subject. When I saw the film, it hit me hard. Our responsibility doesn’t end with this screening, we will carry it to the rest of India. Just imagine what would be the fate of a man who toils from morning to sunset, not knowing what he puts in his mouth at the end of the day is poison."

Food policy analyst Devinder Sharma said, "In India, the only commercially cultivated GM crop Bt Cotton, has so far proved extremely harmful for human beings and animals. Hundreds of farmers working in Bt Cotton fields developed skin allergies that were not known before, while thousands of cattle, sheep and goats that went for grazing there died in no time."

He added, "India is fast becoming the world’s biggest dustbin for this risky and unwanted technology. We are being told that these crops are essential for feeding the growing population, but there is not even one GM crop that produces higher yields. In fact, many of the GM crops produce less than the existing crops."

Jeffrey Smith, author of Genetic Roulette & Seeds of Deception, who is also an active voice in the film said, "Consumer awareness is very important. The long-term solution to GM is public education, we need to act quickly, we need to tell the Indian government not to import any GM food in the country."

From: Saumya Bhatia, How safe is the food you've been eating? The Asian Age, New Delhi, Feb 7, 2009

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