Delhiwalas – a busy week ahead

A fast that did not move a nation
Anna Hazare Vs Irom Sharmila

Do you know why Manipur’s Irom Sharmila is on hunger strike for past 11 Years ? A 12 day fast by Anna Hazare brought a nation and its parliament to its knees while a 11 year old hunger strike by Manipur’s Irom Sharmila has still not moved a nation and its people and its parliament. 
Join us for strategising what we, the people, can do to make Government of India, its parliamentarians, its policy makers, think tanks, media and more importantly the people can do to make Irom Sharmila eat her first morsel of food one day. It is our moment to claim our right to life in this world’s largest democracy.

3 pm on Sunday, 4th September 2011, Conference Room, Control Arms Foundation of India, B 5/146, First Floor Safdarjung Enclave (opposite Deer Park and DLTA), New Delhi 29

Binalakshmi Nepram and Team
Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network/ Control Arms Foundation of India

B 5 / 146, First Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi – 110 029 Mobile/s : 9891210264/ 9711367968/ 987888637



Also, are you in Delhi? The World’s Biggest GM Free Baingan Bharta is being cooked at Dilli Haat on Tuesday September 6. You have a chance to witness and be a part of the World Record.

Hundreds of people including celebrity chefs and television personalities will be there to support this record making event. This bharta represents the opposition of over 92,000 people to genetically modified food and the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill, which will ease the entry of these foods into the country.

If you are in Delhi and do not want genes of some bacteria or animal in your food, then join hundreds of others in making the World’s Biggest GM-Free Baingan Bharta.

Here are the event details:

Venue: Dilli Haat (INA Market)
Day and date: Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Time: 11.00am to 1.00pm



26 thoughts on “Delhiwalas – a busy week ahead

  1. scared of genes of bacteria and animal? You are an animal and thus share most of your genes with other mammals and you cannot digest your food but for the the microbes in your gut flora which incidentally are 10 times more than the cells in your body.
    Traditional farming methods of crossing plants with desirable characteristics (due to some modified genes) was a hit and trial method of getting better crops, and GM crops is just a more sophisticated way of doing this due to advances in molecular biology techniques.
    If you had issues with vile GM practices of Monsanto wherein they ensure that farmers cannot produce their own seed, I can see your point.

  2. MM I wanted to say something in the same line as bjigya. Being an immunologist and a molecular biologist, I don’t see the point of this brainless opposition. Will the same people oppose this: GM crops will become a necessity in future as the population increases and cultivable land diminishes. I would choose to have a pig’s heart beating in my body rather than dying.

      • I think the opposition is to the BRAI bill. The bill in its current form makes anyone who opposes GM food on ‘unscientific’ basis non-relevant. If I am not wrong, the bill provides for such people to be jailed! It is almost as if the government is making up for the ‘mistake’ of Jairam Ramesh having held public consultations on the issue and giving a no to BT brinjal. Someone might like spider genes in their food, I do not. I have a right to know what I am eating.

        As far as GM food is concerned, its been banned in Europe for more than a decade. I do not suppose that is brainless. Also, some of it has proven to have serious health impacts. While those studies have been questioned, but hey, I won’t get into a plane if someone told me its only ‘sort of’ safe. Until I am assured that its 100% safe I wouldn’t eat GM and won’t recommend that anyone else does it either.

        • Scientists in India must organize workshops to educate people about basic biology to do away with such fantastic assumptions.
          As I mentioned before, there is nothing new that is being done now than what the farmers and Nature itself has been doing since time immemorial. And again, you share about 40% of your genes with your dreaded spider yourself.
          There is a big lobby against GM crops by the Fertilizer and Pesticide industry, which will be the heaviest and biggest losers of the new technology. EU has them banned through these lobbies via the Christian conservative parties by exploiting the ‘Science is trying to be God’ , stem cell research is also heavily restricted in US via these conservative parties. Don’t assume that all that happens in EU makes sense. They have just as many inane things going on here as India, just the nature of things is different.
          You yourself mention those studies have been questioned, so I don’t need to elaborate further. The food you are eating right now is more harmful with all the pesticide and chemical fertilizers, it also is wreaking havoc on the water bodies/underground water table. Please, it is a request, refrain from making recommendations when you are yet to gather full information.

          • As a consumer and as someone who is concerned about what me and my family and friend eat, I believe I know enough to recommend not eating GM food. I have access to enough material and research to recommend that. So yes, I stand by the recommendation to not consume GM food.

            Also, there is a difference between GM and biotechnology. I do not have problems with stem cell research or any of those things you mention. Also, it is NOT only the Christian lobby that is against GM food in the EU. Then it would have had repercussions in the US as well, but we all know most of the consumers there don’t even know what they are eating and a lot of it is GM. Information on this abounds. Please have a look when you can.

          • Oh and so if I am eating pesticides and fertilizers, how does that make GM any better or kosher? A lot of people now are trying to eat organic, precisely because they do not want all the chemicals in their body. I don’t think it justifies GM in anyway.

          • Bigiya, my opposition to GM crops is giving private companies access to the food security of a nation since the seeds are patented and once farmers use them they must keep using them.

            I also question a bill that only allows the scientific community to raise questions about it.

            There are also health concerns being raised about those working with GM cotton but they seem to be generally hushed up. I’d like to see some independent studies on these workers.

          • In reply to A’s comments below —
            I said that the pesticides/fertilizer industry is involved in the lobbying against GM food, I did not say that makes GM food more kosher etc. But the fact remains that the hoopla around GM food being ‘harmful’ to health is just misinformation being spread. Yes you are a consumer and you are concerned about your family .. but you have not presented one solid argument supporting your fears. I would be glad to know sources of the materials and research you have accessed.
            The problem with GM food is more related to the firms trying to monopolize the seed production and food being the basic necessity of life, such monopoly could wreak havoc. There are also problems with patenting rights etc. in the same vein. So I don’t support GM due to those reasons, but the science behind is I repeat yet again, a more sophisticated form of artificial breeding of crops/animals practiced by humans since beginning of civilization.
            In the EU, the scientists are trying to engage the general public and the anti-GM crusaders first hand. We have also dealt with anti-GM people vandalizing the fields of a top research school here and destroying years worth of work and experiments of hapless PhD students. GM is genetically modified by biotechnology, what are you differentiating?

        • Very seriously, I will like to ask you … What exactly is your fear? How do you think GM food might create a problem?

          I spoke of EU, because I know about it better. I said christian lobby backed by pesticide/fertilizer chemical industry to elaborate this is economic game not actually religious, religion is just being used as a pawn. In America too GM is opposed on religious ground. So here are results of a survey —
          “Overall, 57 percent of Protestants (62 percent of Evangelicals) oppose the technology based on their religious or ethical views ; Catholics – 52 percent opposed . Among Muslims, 46 percent said they are opposed, with 32 percent in favor. Jews were the most favorable of the technology, with 55 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed.”

          It is funny how people are not opposed to gene therapy in curing cancer , but jump on a similar technology in another context.

          • The most important study is Seralini’s , “New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity”.
            and more recently Delhi University did this study:

            I could copy paste links from all over the place here, and it wouldn’t make a difference (that’s why I refrained from doing that earlier)because at the end it is really about which scientific study you believe right? The fact that big GM companies like Monsanto sponsor almost all the “safety”studies, gives me little confidence to believe their claims. So like many other people who are faced with making this choice, I would err on the side of caution.

            However, if you are convinced that they are safe, please go ahead and consume GM food. The problem is that right now we do not even have a mandatory labeling system where I would know whether I am eating GM or not, thereby depriving me giving in to my “fears” and being cautious.

            ps I will be happy to share more information on GM food if you would like.

      • Everything in nature has a fine balance. once that is disturbed outcomes are obvious. Agreed that food is a scare supply with the increasing population but is GM food the only answer ??? A large portion of farming land is used fodder cultivation for live stock and soy cultivation for bio fuels. I once read an article in NG on how meat is more affordable now and how this has in turn reduced the farming land. I am not promoting vegeteranism but it’s a very fine and an interesting cycle. Unfortunately i am not able to find an online link to that article.
        It’s wise to use the resources on hand sensibly than go looking for methods that guarantee higer produce but the effetcs of which are not fully known.

      • I do not completely agree with what has been said above specially in the context of Indian agriculture. The protest is quite valid as many multinational companies are just using the “lack of knowledge” of the powers above to increase their profits. GM foods etc. are okay if you can be completely certain about their non-toxicity but the jury is still out on that. I am more for the government to have proper research done on the pros and cons and also understand why its not completely embraced in the west before agreeing to anything. The scenario will othewise end up like the BT cotton which has only increased the farmers’ helpnessness and their subsequent suicides. We must adapt new technologies to suit our environment and practices for greater benefit than just blindly impose them to our detriment.

      • Sigh .. 🙂 , the irony of it all. I said I don’t support GM , but on other grounds repeatedly. Seems to be lost on people ..

        Coming to the two studies that you gave links to – The study by DU is not even talking of any health issues, I think you got misguided by the ‘endotoxin’ in the title, it is actually about the problem of these transgenic plants that they loose expression of the endotoxin against the pest with time.
        The second paper you mentioned has been heavily criticized in the scientific circles as it is statistically flawed. And they were funded by Greenpeace ! Read more about this particular study here —

        We really do need more engagement of scientists with general public like this one —
        It is as much a duty of science as a right of the public.

      • And for people constantly looking upto the ‘west’ for everything …

        European Food Safety Authority(EFSA) and FSANZ (Food standards Australia New Zealand) have rejected the ‘most imp.’ study by Seralini et al as mentioned by A.
        Link to FSANZ review : To be quick, look at final conclusion at end ..
        Link to EFSA review :
        Link to Independent review by an expert panel of Scientists:

        This study is’re right, famously flawed!

    • MM, even to a non-science person like me “genes of some bacteria or animal in your food” sounds very naive.

      Now, Shazia (or anyone who knows the science behind GMO), don’t you think this is something that needs extensive study and testing before we bring them to our homes? Quoting Chicago Tribune: Canadian researchers this year reported that the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women and 80 percent of their umbilical cord blood samples contained a pesticide implanted in GMO corn by the biotech company Monsanto, though digestion is supposed to remove it from the body.

      I mean, that is spooky…even if they don’t tell us which reserach firm did that and whether the study was on 5 women or 5000.

    • I could tell you, but you should google it and find out more about her. Use this as an opportunity to find out more about her. Actually i did post about it a year or two ago where we discussed how she is being kept alive against her will.

  3. At one point I thought that organic food was just over priced hype although my grandmother has been cultivating spices and vegetables organically all her life on her small farm. In school I was taught that the green revolution and the advent of pesticides and fertilizers and bumper crops was the best thing to have happened to our country.

    Then I moved to the US and without a second thought about how the shining veggies in the supermarkets were being grown- bought, cooked and served them to my family. My son born here as well as many other kids I know here have multiple food allergies some of them even life threatening. Many adults too suddenly have been diagnosed with gluten and other allergies, with even a single bread crumb enough to make them violently ill.

    I am not a scientist and I am only recently reading more about food allergies, but one of the theories is that the rise of food allergies in the US as compared to Europe, Japan and other countries, is linked to modifications, antibiotics and chemicals in our food here. There is a lot of focus now amongst the people here on locally and organically cultivated food with many farmers markets similar to our village fairs and markets opening up. It is still difficult and more expensive to purchase organic produce with all the government aid going to the larger farms growing subsidized genetically modified crop and the farmers trying to grow organic produced being charged for licenses to cultivate that way!

    It is very hard to make sure that everything we eat is organically grown and sometimes so labeled “natural” food is not organic. I hope genetically modified food without proper research into its long term implications both on the environment as well on our health, never gets to stores and on to our plates.

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