Thursday, October 15, 2009

Diwali - Make it fun-filled, but cracker-less!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Will Bt brinjal make it to your plate?(TOI )


Will Bt brinjal make it to your plate?

Panel To Announce Findings On Suitability For Environment Today

Jayashree Nandi | TNN 

Bangalore: The controversial debate on the commercialization of Bt brinjal might just hit a decision point on Wednesday. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) will meet on Wednesday to announce their findings on the bio-safety of Bt brinjal and recommend whether it is suitable for environmental release. 
    A lot of anxiety has built up prior to the meeting as Bt brinjal will be the first food crop to be commercialized in India. In the light of controversy over its safety and impact on India’s varied biodiversity, this meeting will hold special significance. 
    All stakeholders tried to keep the conclusions under cover to avoid any rebellion against the issue. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India member B S Dongra who is also a member of the GEAC said: “I have doubts, but those might get cleared after the biosafety findings are presented on Wednesday. The government will take appropriate action on the issue.’’ 
    Ranjini Warrier, member secretary, GEAC, preferred not to comment. “I am not authorized to speak about it. We will know the findings only tomorrow after the meeting,” she said. However, sources said that environment minister Jairam Ramesh met Warrier and GEAC chief Parsheera on Tuesday evening to take stock of the matter. 
    Meanwhile, there was a lot of pressure from civil society organizations who sent letter to the minister’s office asking him to intervene and stop the environmental release of Bt brinjal. 
    “Over 41,000 letters from different parts of the country have been faxed to minister Jairam Ramesh. The secrecy around this issue is raising more concerns among people. The findings are to decide on the environmental release of the brinjal. It is of great concern for civil society because the government is going to decide what we are to eat. International experience shows that many countries have had to face problems from the release of such foods. Molecular biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini in his study had revealed that there was an antibiotic gene in Bt brinjal. 
    The antibiotics are Canamycin and Neomycin, both are drugs for tuberculosis. So chances of antibiotic resistance are also there,” said Sustainable agriculture campaigner Rajesh Krishnan.






Say ‘no’ to Bt Brinjal: civil society groups

Gargi Parsai - The Hindu

NEW DELHI: Civil society groups have cautioned the government against introducing genetically modified crops in the food chain and questioned the credentials of a panel of experts to look into the biosafety of Bt Brinjal, which will come up before the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on Wednesday.

The committee was set up by the GEAC to look into the findings of independent experts who raised concerns at the safety of Bt Brinjal from health and environmental perspectives.

“Conflicting interests”

At least three of its members had “conflicting interests,” the civil society groups alleged on Tuesday. For, two members were involved in an earlier research commissioned by Mahyco, the seed company that has developed Bt Brinjal. The third, himself involved in GM crop development, too has a stake in Bt Brinjal.

Undue haste was being shown. The report was not put up in the public domain, and “there is total lack of transparency,” the groups said.

Meanwhile, many citizens have represented to Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, reminding him of his assurance to a delegation of the Coalition for a GM-Free India in June.

The civil society groups include the Bhartiya Kisan Union, the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, the Right to Food Campaign, Madhya Pradesh, Greenpeace India, Samvad, Sampark, Thanal and Living Farms.

The developer of Bt Brinjal in India is seeking permission for commercial release of this first GM food. The seed company claims this technology will help farmers reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

“If a crop like Bt Cotton which is considered non-edible can throw up problems such as human allergies and animal deaths, one can imagine what lies in store from Bt Brinjal. No such genetically engineered vegetable exists anywhere else in the world. We don’t want such GM foods coming in and jeopardising the health of Indians,” said Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India. When safer, affordable alternatives existed for pest management all over the country, there was no need for Bt Brinjal.

“India is the Centre of Origin and Diversity of Brinjal. If Bt Brinjal is approved, this will be the first time in the world that a GM crop is allowed in its Centre of Origin/Diversity, risking our bio-diversity. If China can say ‘No’ to GM Soy and if Peru can refuse GM Potato, why can’t India say ‘No’ to Bt Brinjal,” asked Jaikrishna of Greenpeace.

Kheti Virasat Mission
Jaitu, Faridkot dist., Punjab

Phone: +91-9393001550

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bottled water banned in Australian town

An Australian town pulled all bottled water from its shelves Saturday and replaced it with refillable bottles in what is believed to be a world-first ban.

The Australian town of Bundanoon pulled all bottled water from its shelves Saturday and ...more

Hundreds of people marched through the picturesque rural town of Bundanoon to mark the first day of its bottled water ban by unveiling a series of new public drinking fountains, said campaign spokesman John Dee.

Shopkeepers ceremoniously removed the last bottles of water from their shelves and replaced them with reusable bottles that can be filled from fountains inside the town's shops or at water stations in the street.

"Every bottle today was taken off the shelf and out of the fridges so you can only now buy refillable bottles in shops in Bundanoon," Dee told AFP.

The tiny town, two hours south of Sydney, voted in July to ban bottled water after a drinks company moved to tap into a local aquifer for its bottled water business.

"In the process of the campaign against that the local people became educated about the environmental impact of bottled water," said Dee.

"A local retailer came up with this idea of well why don't we do something about that and actually stop selling the bottled water and it got a favourable reaction," he said.

Dee said the 2,000-person town had made international headlines with their bid, which he hoped would spur communities across the world to action.

"Whilst our politicians grapple with the enormity of dealing with climate change what Bundanoon shows is that at the very local level we can sometimes do things that can surprise ourselves, in terms of our ability to bring about real and measurable change that has a real benefit for the environment," he said.

The cash savings only made the project more compelling, he added.

"I think that's why this campaign is doing so well, because we're saying to people you can save money and save the environment at the same time," said Dee. "The alternative doesn't have a sexy brand, doesn't have pictures of mountain streams on the front of it, it comes out of your tap."

Activists say bottling water causes unnecessary use of plastics and fuel for transport. A New South Wales study found that in 2006, the industry was responsible for releasing 60,000 tonnes of gases blamed for global warming.




Monday, October 12, 2009

SAFE FOOD FOR ALL: On the eve of World Food Day Eve-Dilli Haat, 15th October

Dear Friends,


You must have heard of Bt Cotton, Bt Brinjal, Bt Bhindi and other such crops, which are Genetically Modified (GM). These GM crops are created unnaturally, by taking genes from unrelated organisms like bacteria, viruses, animals etc. and inserting them into the cells of almost our food plants like brinjal, rice, bhindi, etc. The science and technology of Genetic Engineering is as yet imprecise and what is worse, irreversible.


Further, such crops/foods are known to cause several adverse human and animal health impacts like allergies, impaired immune system, damage to organs like kidneys and liver, stunted growth and development, reproductive health problems and even inter-generational effects. Majority of countries around the world have disallowed GM crops for this reason. However, in India, due to lack of enough public awareness, the first GM food crop in the form of Bt Brinjal is reported to be close to our plates.


The ‘I AM NO LAB RAT’ Consumer Awareness and Mobilization Campaign is marking the eve of WORLD FOOD DAY (16th October) at Dilli Haat (near AIIMS), this Thursday, the 15th of October, from 3 PM to 8 PM. Our aim is to alert consumers about the imported foods which are laced with GM content but not labeled so, that illegally flood Indian markets.


We call upon all concerned and informed citizens to join us in reaching out to fellow Delhi’ites and ordinary consumers about this grave health and environmental issue. Those interested in volunteering, please contact Ankit at +91 9313537417 .


Please circulate widely.



Radha Kapuria 


Campaign Coordinator, Delhi

'I AM NO LAB RAT' Campaign


Issued in public interest by I AM NO LAB RAT consumer campaign

Campaign Secretariat, A-124/6, 1st Floor, Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi 16. Telefax: 011-26517814




HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT if you are not told that your food has been fundamentally altered and you’re kept uninformed

about what’s the change in your food? Is it right that you are not given any choices with regard to what foods you would

like to eat or to avoid? How would you feel if you got to know that what you are eating is not exactly what you thought you

were eating? What about the possibility that the food that you are eating to sustain yourself could be the cause for many

adverse health conditions? All of these concerns are quite real, when it comes to GM foods.

In case you have not yet heard about GM Foods, these are foods made out of crops created unnaturally. In these crops, genes

from unrelated organisms like bacteria and viruses are being inserted into our food plants. For instance, in Bt Brinjal, which

is being sought to be introduced in India, a gene from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thurengiensis (Bt) has been inserted into

brinjal, so that the plant produces a poison from inside to kill some insects feeding on it. The agencies wanting to bring in

such a poisonous brinjal are assuring us that this will bring down the use of pesticides in farming. However, what they are

revealing is not the full truth. The insertion of these foreign genes into brinjal causes a lot of disruptions at the genomic level

that will lead to several health and environmental impacts in such GM foods. Also, this is an irreversible and uncontrollable

technology: when seeds are dispersed into the environment, they have a way to propagating themselves! We can’t recall

these plants even if we know that they are dangerous for us!

GM foods are now documented to cause a lot of adverse health impacts like allergies, impairing the immune system,

damaging liver, kidneys, pancreas etc., affecting the growth and metabolism, causing reproductive health problems

(infertility) and so on.

In the USA, genetically modified seeds of crops like SOYABEAN, CORN, CANOLA and COTTON have been introduced

and are being grown for several years now. This has been done there without adequate public debate and despite the fact

that repeated polls indicate that consumers prefer non-GM and organic foods. However, there is massive rejection of such

GM foods elsewhere in the world, including in Europe where aware and informed consumers are rejecting such foods.

These foods are now being pushed into India. In India, Bt Cotton has been approved for cultivation as the only GM crop

allowed so far. Further, GM soybean oil has been allowed to be imported into India. However, several foods that have been

manufactured and packaged in the USA/Canada/Argentina are being imported into India. These foods could potentially

have GM ingredients, if they have soy/corn/canola/cotton ingredients since there is no system of segregating GM foods from

non-GM foods or labeling of such foods in these countries. The following are some products to watch out for and avoid,

unless clearly labeled as NON-GM/ORGANIC:

A recent consumer campaign obtained assurances from some food brands in India that they’ll remain GM-Free while many

others have said that for now, they are GM-Free and some are not giving a clear assurance that they’ll not serve GM foods.

As an informed and educated citizen, be aware of what you are buying and eating. Given that there is no system of labeling

in India that allows consumers like you to make informed choices, let this little leaflet guide you towards GM-Free, safe

foods and away from such hazardous products.



Kraft Foods brand products from the US (breakfast cereals), American Garden brand products (salad

dressings, mayonnaise, popcorn, sauces etc.), Pringles brand (chips), Hershey’s brand syrups, Hudson’s

canola oil, Nature Valley brand granola bars, Pop Weaver brand (pop corn), Munch King brand (corn

chips), Isomil brand (soy infant formula) etc. These are products with soy/corn/canola/cotton

ingredients made in and imported from countries which produce GM soy, GM corn, GM canola & GM cotton

without segregation & labeling.






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