Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little green aliens

The crazy Mexican invader Krishen refers to was a plant that was deliberately brought to our desert (tossed out from an airplane, apparently). Perhaps, it was done with good intent. Some researchers and/or administrators may have thought: “Hey, some greenery is better than none. Why don’t we bring in this super-tough Mexican shrub?”

And so they did. This new invasive plant took root, sure, but even goats wouldn’t eat the toxic stuff and it was near-impossible to get rid of.

Now, years later, we are making the same mistakes — introducing new plants without due caution. But this time we are not talking about a dot of green in a desert. We’re talking about our bodies.

A fairly intense battle for our dinner tables lies ahead with genetically modified crops angling to get a foot in. And the government seems to be willing to facilitate the process, although India’s experience with Bt Cotton has already proved that GM crops do not necessarily change things for the better. There are serious concerns now because it is hard to prevent GM contamination. Odisha, for instance, had already said a firm ‘No’ to Bt Cotton, but hasn’t been able to stop it from spreading. How do you control every seed, every breeze?

Hundreds of activists, farmer groups, former civil servants and politicians have signed a petition to the prime minister, demanding that the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill be scrapped and ‘a Biosafety Protection statute’ be introduced in its stead.

The protests are getting louder since Parliament’s upcoming winter session may spell make-or-break for Indian farmers. The Seeds Bill, 2004, and the Pesticides Management Bill, 2008, might get passed.

Read full piece here

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