More than 600 students from Zakir Hussain College and Youth for Safe Food walked through the streets of old Delhi distributing pamphlets and interacting with curious onlookers as to what Bt brinjal meant to them. I spoke to Ankit and Radha, the two amazing youngsters who have been relentlessly on their toes mobilising the young college students about the inherent dangers from Bt brinjal, and they told me that it was a spectacular padyatra. They strongly feel that this is perhaps one of the best ways to reach out to public and create an informed debate about safe food.
I am sure in the days to come we will see more colleges and youth organisation taking to streets creating awareness about the havoc that awaits the society with the introduction of GM food crops into the country.
Here is a press release about the padyatra:
New Delhi, December 17th 2009: A Lok Chetna Padayatra with more than 500 youth participating in it, reached out to citizens of the Old City of Delhi to create awareness on the issue of GM foods and Bt Brinjal in particular here today. The padayatra, taken out by the students of Zakir Husain College and Youth for Safe Food put out information on GM foods and about Bt Brinjal in particular to the residents of the Old City of Delhi and contended that creating an informed debate on the issue is the only democratic way forward for decision-making on GM foods like Bt Brinjal.
“A majority of the countries around the world do not allow GM crop cultivation and many aware citizens are exercising their right to safe food because informed debates have allowed them to make such decisions. We realize the importance of such a debate in India too at this juncture, as the government is trying to decide on whether Bt Brinjal should be approved or not. Let us remember that GE seeds constitute an irreversible technology and therefore, a very cautious approach is the only wise way forward” said Dr Mohd. Aslam Parvaiz. “We need ordinary citizens to get involved in decision-making related to something as basic as the food that we eat for our sustenance and survival and we hope that this padayatra will contribute to citizens making informed choices about their food”, he added.
Bt Brinjal has been cleared by the Indian regulators in October 2009 amidst concerns and reservations expressed from various quarters. No such GM vegetable has ever been introduced anywhere else in the world and no GM foods have been allowed for cultivation in India so far.
"Bt Brinjal has been developed in India despite the fact that we are the Centre of Origin & Diversity for this crop. All clearances have been given based on the crop developer’s data and there are several reports which show that objectionable conflicting interests were allowed to drive the decision-making for recommending Bt Brinjal. Media reports showed the Chairperson of an Expert Committee which had cleared Bt Brinjal himself expressing the need for more tests on this new product and he had gone on record to say that we do not know at this point of time how much damage these foods will cause.
He clearly reiterated what many scientists around the world are concerned about – that GE foods are not equal to normal foods. Further, no long term studies exist so far on Bt Brinjal to assess its chronic impacts and there is a serious dearth of independent research to prove its safety. Worse, independent analyses of the crop developer’s data show that it is unsafe for human and animal health. It is in the context of all this knowledge existing with us that we decided to reach out to fellow citizens so that they can make informed decisions about this matter”, said Nayani Nasa of Youth for Safe Food.