Collaborative Activity [2008 - 2010]
Genetically Modified Food and Crops (GMO): APPL and Center For Contemporary Studies & Research, Lucknow (CCSR)
Public awareness in India about genetically modified seed and crops, in general, is poor. There is no labeling in stores on genetically engineered food materials. Consumers are, therefore, totally in the dark on what they are eating and what their effects on health are.
The Bt Brinjal, like many other Genetically Modified (GMO) crops has been now shown by independent analysis to impact health adversely. In other studies too, when GM food was tested on rats, the results were alarming. Evidence linked GM food with stunted growth, impaired immune systems, potentially pre-cancerous cell growth in the intestines, liver/pancreas/intestinal damage and even inter-generational effects. Latest studies have confirmed that GM foods affect fertility.
Ever since GMO s were first introduced in the mid-1990s, farmers’ groups and NGOs have warned that they would not only contaminate other crops, but have adverse impact on Environment, Bio-diversity, country’s Food-sovereignty, social and economic structure in farming community. As produce of GMO crops cannot be used as seed for next crop, farmers shall always be at mercy of MNC seed companies for their future needs. In the absence of a national facility, presently seed companies either do the tests themselves or get them done in laboratories in-equipped to know if a seed was normal or genetically modified?
When GMO crops are planted they contaminate other crops with transgenic material. In places where GM crops are grown on a large scale, it has already become almost impossible to find crops of the same species that are free of GMO material. And the contamination spreads even to areas where GMO crops are not officially permitted. This has happened, just as predicted. Contamination will reach a new level of toxicity, and occur not only within organisms of the same species but also between species as different from each other as plants and bacteria, or plants and fungi.
In Mexico, GMO based maize has now contaminated the indigenous maize variety, which is sick and needs to be cured, but not killed. It may take a year or 100 years to cure it, but it has to be done, because the indigenous maize has been with their communities for generations. In Argentina, in GMO based Soya farming the intense application year after year of a single herbicide – gly-phosphate – has led to the emergence of a new class of weeds that have become resistant to this chemical. Apart from these, it has badly affected the overall fertility of the soil.
After a tremendous pressure by Anti-GM lobby of civil society, now the GOI is organizing some public debate on the issue, which will take place at various centers of India in January 2010, before a final decision on the issue is taken. In its series, recently the Center of Environment Education, an autonomous body funded by the GOI, Ministry of Environment, has organized such public debate in form of a public hearing in Kolkata, Chandigarh, Hyderabad. Some more hearings are in the queue.
Meeting in 2010
On matter of GMO, APPL has always been very much concerned and taking various initiatives. In the series, APPL, in collaboration with "Center For Contemporary Studies & Research", Lucknow, has organized one day meeting on "Genetically Modified (GMO) Crops/Foods & Health Impacts" on January 16th, 2010 at Gorakhpur. Also a film on GMOs produced by famous cine personality: Mr. Mahesh Bhatt, namely ”Poison on the Platter’ was also screened.
Report on APPL and CCS&R’s workshop/meeting on “Doctors Against Genetically Modified Food & Crops(GMO)” (Gorakhpur Chapter )& Screering of Mahesh Bhatt’ s Film “POISON ON THE PLATTER’’ held on January 16, 2010
Govt. Of India is considering the proposal for commercial-scale approval of Genetically Modified food-products in India. Bt- Brinjal is one of the identified items. Bt-Cotton has already been commercially tried in the Indian states of Punjab, Gujrat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh in last 8-9 years, with disastrous results, both from long range production and human/animal health view points. Many renowned scientists have shown their concerns about the ill- effects of GMO s on human body, besides other bad effects on environment, bio-diversity, food-sovereignty etc.
APPL has always been in favor of research and development by means of transparent testing and fair field trials of GMO s. In the series, APPL, in collaboration with CCS&R (Center for Contemporary Studies & Research, Lucknow) have organized an one-day workshop/meeting on "Genetically Modified (GMO) Crops/Foods & Health Impacts" on January 16th, 2010 at Aryavart MRI Center, Gorakhpur. During the said meeting, it was decided to seek the expert-opinion/guidance of all concerned intellectuals, especially practicing medical-professionals/doctors (both from Allopathic and Ayurvedic branches) and to know their views on the effect of GMO on health aspects and treatment of human beings. Also to create, through them, awareness among the various section of the society, a film on GMOs was screened.
This meeting was attended by 35 Doctors and 10 para-medical staff. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Thakur Bharat Lal Srivastava, M.D and Facilitated by Dr. Sanjay Kumar Srivastava, Trustee, APPL Trust. The subject-title of the meeting was "GM FOOD and our Health".
After welcoming the delegates, Dr. Sanjay Kumar Srivastava introduced the subject to the delegates and opened the dialogue by the introduction of the participants.
Mr. Utkarsh Kumar Sinha of CCS&R, while explaining about the objective of the meeting (& screening of the said Film), gave the facts about GMOs in respect of Health of Human being & Domestic Animals, Bio-diversity. Mr. Sinha expressed his view about the rights of Farmer. He emphasizes that the Doctors are backbone of the society’s health, so their experience/recommendations are very important about the well being of the society.
Dr. Bharat Srivastava emphasized that genetic engineering (GE), as such is a very good scientific tool/achievement. However, its wrong application for the greed of a few individuals/multi-national companies. It can be so disastrous that ultimately may finish our life. He also emphasized that it was doctors secret-duty to educate the people about this disastrous outcome of the GE.
Dr. Alok Sinha of Sahara Welfare Foundation cautioned and strongly condemned the Intra- species-effects of GMOs . He was of the opinion that, while studying the ill-effect of GM s on human-health, the current set of tests were in-adequate and said that the scope of type and number of tests/experiments should be enlarged. Also the scientific research should be re-examined by a neutral agency. 90 days time tenure should be increased, as it is too in- adequate for to see chronic and genetic disorder in the new springs.
Famous pediatrician Dr. A.K. Pandey, frankly admitted about his ignorance for GMO foods and its effects on the health of children. It is not presently covered in general texts and course-syllabus for medical degrees in any Indian universities. He agreed that most of the medical-practitioners, in this part of the country do not know about GMOs. He expressed his view in two way: first-- about our ancient culture that food is only to live our lives but at the same time it was on very respectable ladder, on the level of gods. Secondly, we should not tolerate any type of play with our life i.e. ‘OUR FOOD’. He was of the view that playing with the genetic code of our food would precipitate in very bad manner in long run .
Dr. A. K. Rao, a veterinarian, from Distt. Kushinagar was deadly against large scale use of GMOs, especially for animals view point, as very limited experiments had been done on animals. DR.R.B. Chaurasiya was of the view, as the large scale studies are yet to be done on various aspects of GMOs, let the country decide in due course of time whether the GMOs are necessary or not, depending upon the outcome of these studies?
Dr. Harsh Kumar, Reader, D.D.U.University, Gorakhpur thanked to ‘Doctors against GMOs’, CCS&R and APPL and their respective teams for the sincere efforts and organizing such a fruitful discussion on a sensitive issue like of GMO s. He expressed his agreement to Dr.S.K. Srivastava and Mr. Utkarsh ‘s views. He further reiterated the need on careful monitoring on implementation of GE for Human & Animal consumption, in line with today’s agenda. He also extended his full support to the alliance and asked for the data from CCSR & APPL so that they can also use it.
Mr. A.K. Singh felt that this discussion has opened new ways. According to him, it is a new concern for practicing doctors to educate and deliver the facts to the common people because that would be the bridge between the society and scientists.
All the members agreed about the need for more meeting about GMOs. It was agreed that "Doctors against GMOs" should lead the alliance and will co-ordinate with others for further action and proceedings. It was also agreed that the concerned members should have at least one meeting every three months to discuss and share their experiences. The collective program would be formulated in the next meeting to be held soon.
In the last, while thanking to all the speakers for their views. Mr. Utkarsh Sinha was of the opinion that this workshop/meeting facilitated to reach to the point, from where it is easy to proceed. He supported Dr. Srivastava’s and Dr. Sinha’s views and emphasized about the need for a collective effort. According to him, the formation of consortium and awareness about GmO s were the biggest achievement of today’s dialogue. He invited all the representatives from heath institutions for sharing the efforts and to fight against commercial applications of GMOs .
Dr. S.K. Srivastava offered APPL’ s willingness for any help, any time and any where. He emphasized that the proposal should be discussed and should be finalized today as most of the Doctors and organizations concerned have their representatives here. One more thing he added is that we should focus on all the concerning issue related to GMO s .
At the end of the meeting all participants signed the petition to Prime minister, Govt. of India, to stop commercial scale approval to BT Brinjal.
[Report by : Dr. Sanjay Srivastava]
Meeting in 2008
APPL organized a workshop, in collaboration with Center For Contemporary Studies & Research, Lucknow, on Genetically Modified seeds and crops and its implications on our agriculture and food situations and especially the over all impact on the farming community in India, on April 13, 2008 at Gorakhpur. Participants included apart from the concerned NGOs, Agricultural scientists, Govt. officials, Electronic and Print media, leading persons from farming community.