Just as the special interests in the petroleum sector have been preventing the development of environmentally-friendly energy choices, the genetic engineering corporations in food are gradually strengthening their chokehold on our food choice.
The debate on genetically modified agriculture has so far centred round pest-resistant cotton in India, although GM food has been sold in the US for a long time now. The prospect of Indian consumers being sold GM food without their knowing it is now both real and alarming. State agriculture ministers have been speaking in favour of Bt Brinjal, as in Tamil Nadu, although hold-out organic states like Kerala have decided to, like the European food sector, keep GM out.
The sinister nature of patented GM technology is best revealed in this recent article in Vanity Fair, exposing the mafia-like tactics of Monsanto, which is synonymous with the industry (and which is highlighted in a fictional story quite well in George Clooney’s “Michael Clayton”). This is a fine introductory article to another one in Businessweek, which talks about the clever tactics being adopted by the corporation to reduce controversies, while plying its enslaving trade in seeds around the world.
Read together, these articles highlight the noxious nature of GM agriculture in general. For those who are interested in a deeper understanding, there are many more resources available on the web. I would recommend reading the work of Professor Norman Ellstrand, geneticist at the University of California at Riverside, on the less evident effects of GM — genes flowing from GM crops to those in the wild, potentially wiping out pure stocks of any species. The research findings are clinically neutral, recording the evidence but not making out a strong case, but as in climate change, there is no necessity for experimentation that can produce results that may be potentially unmanageable, harmful, cascading on other living beings and even worse, irreversible.
Two works linked from Norman Ellstrand’s university homepage are :
- Going to “Great Lengths” to prevent the escape of genes that produce specialty chemicals. Plant Physiology. 132:1770-1774.
- When transgenes wander, should we worry? Plant Physiology 125: 1543-1545.
Dr. Ellstrand is the author of this book on the subject : Ellstrand N.C. 2003. Dangerous Liaisons? When Cultivated Plants Mate with Their Wild Relatives. Johns Hopkins University Press, Balitmore, MD.
Watch this short video for what many people think of Monsanto in the US and elsewhere. There are references to suicides in India where Bt Cotton has been grown. Also watch out for The Hindu’s Survey of the Environment 2008, due out on World Environment Day, June 5, for an article by Professor V S Vijayan, Chairman, Kerala State Biodiversity Board on the monstrous nature of GM crops.
Here is another video of oraganic home gardening as the strongest response to Big Brother GM agriculture, in California.
Lastly, the GM industry’s resistance to label food anywhere in the world is a sufficient and strong reason for it to be firmly canned. The technology should be packed away in the ghoulish laboratories where these seeds of enslavement, poison and monumental environmental damage are being developed. The industry will not even spare milk, as this report in The New York Times shows.
If you are a consumer in India, be aware that any approval granted by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee for Bt Brinjal, Bt Tomato, Bt Okra will lead to your food supply being contaminated by GM crops that produce complex proteins. These are proteins that would never have turned up in your guts in the normal course, and the effects of which are as yet unclear. Remember, we cannot go back to Monsanto after our stomach, colon or other body parts turn cancerous; we can’t haul up our Agriculture ministers, our establishment agriculture scientists and the PR hucksters. Better keep Monsanto and others out in this untested business while we still have a chance.