The fire has spread to the Ministry for Environment and Forests. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not talking about forest fires. I know this is the season -- dry and hot months of the summer -- for forest fires. There is another fire that is spreading throughout the country. Yes, you got it right. I am refering to the GM fire that Mahesh Bhatt has been talking about.
Mr Jairam Ramesh, the Minister for Environment and Forests, on June 5 told a delegation of the Coalition for GM Free India that he too has concerns on GM foods and stressed the need for a comprehensive policy level decision on GM foods. He also promised to hold an environment audit of the Bt cotton experience. The Minister had earlier said that he was not in favour of the commercialisation of Bt brinjal, a food crop, and the jury about its safety is still out.
Far away in Thriruvanthapuram, the Kerala Agricultural Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran, launched a State-wide programme to protect and conserve natural resources and food cultures. Terming it as a beginning of a new agriculture in Kerala, God's Own Country, that a network of 100 neighbourhood groups were being formed to to encourage sustainable agriculture and thereby protect fields, waterbodies and trees.
Speaking at the inaugural address at a conference organised on the occasion of the World Environment Day, the minister accused multinationals of promoting 'food terror' through Genetically Modified (GM) crops. "Corporate agenda should not be allowed to dictate agricultural practices and dietary habits," he was quoted as saying in a news report.
On June 7, Mahesh Bhatt is travelling to Jaipur to formally launch his documentary film Poison on the Platter in Rajasthan.
The GM fire is spreading. Despite Mahyco's efforts to create public opinion through media conferences in various cities, the opposition to GM foods is growing. In fact, the media too has now begun to understand the politics behind GM crops. In New Delhi, Thiruvantapuram, Bhubaneshwar and elsewhere, reports say that Mahyco representatives faced really tough questions resulting in abrupt ending of the press conferences.