Dec 15, 2009

Farmers cultivate medicinal rice; No need for GM pharma crops

There is wisdom in Mahatma Gandhi's words. When he said that the Earth has enough for man's needs, but not for his greed, he was also referring to the huge biodiversity that exists and which has solutions for mankind's problems. Agricultural science has simply failed to learn from the sagacious words of Mahatma, and followed a regressive science approach which has led to the world reaching a tripping point.

And yet, the world refuses to learn. Such has been the change in mindset of generation after generation that the entire effort has been to programme the thinking in such a way that we are left to believe that if we don't follow the technological path (and this implicitly implies branded technology -- Monsanto, Syngenta, Du Pont etc) to farming, the world will slide into hunger and deprivation.

The spin doctors have been continuously at work for decades now. But my worry is that if we don't change the farming pathway towards a sustainable livelihood direction, we are in any case doomed. Look at the way the world is warming up, and this has happened more conclusively in the past 40 years or so. Industrial agriculture has played a dominant role in global warming.

If the world still wants to continue on the same path, I think we will be faced with the same fate, much sooner than expected, that once roaring Indus Valley Civilisations in 2600 BC, viewed through the largest city settlements at Mohenjodaro and harappa, and also the way the flourishing Hindu kingdom of Angkor Wat in Cambodia in the 12th century, simply vanished at the cruel hands of Climate Change.

The ruins are there for us to see, but we refuse to draw any lessons.

Industrial farming, which was based on the chemicals used in the 2nd World War, has added on to global warming, and is leading to desertification. We are now extending the same approach through the regressive Genetic Engineering technology. In addition to chemicals, the harmful impact of which the world is now increasingly realising, we are now adding biological pollution, something that can never be recalled, can never have legally binding emission cuts.

The GM industry is re-writing the story of Alice in Wonderland. It is trying to convince a stupid race (all races in history have been stupid, otherwise we wouldn't be faced with a bleak future) that GM foods will now provide you all the nutrition and medicines that your body needs. The more the educated you are, the more the chances that you will accept the spin doctrine. So much so for your intelligence!

What we do not know is that nature has provided us enough for our needs, whether it is nutrition or medicine. We fail to recognise this, because we are a lathargic race and have begun to live on doles, even getting our knowledge from the doles provided very conveniently through the knowledge capsules on the internet. We do not want to move our ass and venture out. If you are an agricultural scientist or an economist, the chances are that you are very content sitting in front of your computer terminal to draw insane theories and recommendations that have largely fuelled global problems.

It is in this context that I draw strength from our farmers, who have been custodians of our biodiversity. They have all the time-tested solutions for sustainable farming, and thereby feeding the world. But we refuse to learn from them. We think only Monsanto, Syngenta and Adidas can take us to the 22nd century, not realising that the world may boil before that.

The farmers on the other hand are not taking us back into the cave age, but showing us the door to a sustainable future.

Gangadhar Hosamani is one such farmer from Halligeri village in Karnataka. He has been cultivating a dozen of rices which have medicinal properties. You don't need the dangerous GM pharma crops that are being developed surruptiously around the world in the name of medicinal food plants. I remember sometimes back the John Hopkins University in the US had tried unsuccessfully to foster a genetically modified banana containing a gene for Hepatitis-B.

The arguments were same. The university was trying to convince policy makers of the dire need to grow GM bananas in India in view of the large population suffering from Hepatitis-B. What it was not telling us was that John Hopkins was actually looking for large scale field trials, since the US does not allow that.

Mercifully, we were able to stall its entry into India.

I bring you the report on the strains of medicinal rice that Gangadhar is cultivating. This report appeared in Deccan Herald.

Organic farmer reclaims traditional paddy strains

By AnandaTeertha Pyati

Gangadhar Hosamani, an organic farmer from Halligeri village in Dharwad taluk, has grown a dozen varieties of medicinal paddy.

With over one lakh varieties of paddy, India has long been a leader on the paddy front. But, thanks to the introduction of high-yield varieties, traditional paddy strains gradually disappeared. But, there is still hope, thanks to farmers like Gangadhar. As part of the ‘Save our Rice’ campaign, Sahaja Samrudha, an organic farmers’ group identified some paddy growers and transferred the responsibility to conserve medicinal paddy to them.

Each variety of paddy has its speciality. Aromatic Ambe More and Kari Gajivili, Kari kala bhatta are used for new mothers. While Kari Bhatta is used to control herpes, Dodda baira nellu is good to control acidity. Sannakki, Navara of Kerala, Atikaraya of coastal areas, Maapille samba of Tamilnadu, Madali of Maharashtra have also been grown on his land.

“Scientists are talking about GM varieties. With these efforts, companies are capturing the seed market. If the corporates take over, the situation of farmers will worsen,” explains G Krishna Prasad, convenor of ‘Save our Rice’ campaign.

1 comment:

Ame Johnson said...

You will save the farmers. please continue your good work for humanity.
we dont want any american and european corporations to meddling with the domain of the farmers. please continue your advocacy for the Indian farmers. Thank you and God Bless You.