A tug of war has begun on the contentious issue of commercial approval for Bt brinjal, India's first 'poisonous' food crop. Ignoring the peoples' verdict, some ministers have now come out openly in support of Bt brinjal.
Leading the pack is Food and Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar, who has otherwise made a mess of Indian agriculture. Food prices have been rising for over a year breaking the past ten year record. Ever since he took over as Food and Agriculture Minister, and that was in 2004 (under UPA-I), agricultural imports have multiplied. He turned the country into world's biggest importer of wheat in 2006-07 and that too at a time when there was no shortfall in production. Subsequently, he has opened up the country to a flood of imports -- edible oil, pulses, sugar, spices, fruits, vegetables and milk.
Everytime he opens his mouth, international prices shoot up, as a result of which India is forced to import at a higher price. Prices in India have been on an upswing, and many believe that his ministry has been according protection to hoarders and speculators. On top of it, he says he is not an astrologer, and then the next day says that his ministry has nothing to do with rising prices.
Sharad Pawar has lost touch with the people. He now only talks of the industry. No wonder, he is aggressively pushing for the Bt brinjal. His outburst against the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has set a debate rolling. The Congress Party has very subtly backed the Environment Minister. You can read more about the squabble in The Times of India (Jan 22, 2009) In fight over Bt brinjal, Cong backs Jairam. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/In-fight-over-Bt-brinjal-Cong-backs-Jairam/articleshow/5490726.cms
While the political masters are fighting it out at the top, the aam aadmi has decided to express his rejection of the technology by following Mahatma Gandhi's way of expressing anger and disgust -- observing a day long fast. More importantly, the nationwide fast is happening on Jan 30, Mahatma's martyrdom day. A subtle reminder that the nation is once again faced with a threat to national sovereignty, and we have to adopt the peaceful Gandhigiri approach to ward off the evil forces.
Dr V S Vijayan, chairman of the Kerala Biodiversity Board, calls it the 2nd Quit India movement.
Bt brinjal is the beginning of a take-over. If the nation remains quiet, and accept the first genetically modified 'poisonous' food crop, it will be trigger a flood of such poisonous crops, and eventually the take-over of country's agriculture, farming, and food. As someone has said "..if you want to take control over societies, control food."
So wherever you are on Jan 30, please go on a solemn fast. Ask your family members, and your immediate neighbours, friends and relatives to join in. If you can look for an event in your city where people are collecting and sitting on a prayer, please join. But even if there is no formal event planned, observe a day long fast in any case. Do it, and you will see the collective power of the peoples' energies.
Here is a news report that announces the nationwide fast against Bt brinjal.
Bt brinjal: Kerala to join fast
NGOs are holding the nation-wide protest on January 30
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala government will join the proposed nation-wide protest against Bt brinjal on Martyr’s Day.
Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran called upon the people of the State on Friday to join the fast being organised by non-governmental organisations on January 30 to protect farming, health and environment. The people could join the fast at their homes or offices.
The Minister told a press conference here that the decision of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee favouring the release of Bt brinjal for cultivation in the country lacked transparency. Details such as the scientific basis for the conclusions of the committee, factors considered by the committee and any dissent within the committee should be disclosed.
Not endorsed by WHO
Mr. Ratnakaran said the World Health Organisation and several European countries had not favoured consumption of genetically- modified (GM) food.
Referring to an article by Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas supporting the release of the technology, Mr. Ratnakaran said Prof. Mr. Thomas should be stating his opinion not in his individual capacity but as a Minister. Kerala was a biodiversity hotspot and could not allow its biodiversity to be contaminated.
Poet Sugathakumari, who attended the press conference along with others, said the release of Bt brinjal was the beginning of the release of more varieties of genetically- modified crops. The long-term impact of GM crops on the biodiversity would be known only later. She said that agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan had told her that he had recommended the establishment of government testing laboratory for GM crops as far back as in 2004.