Barring a few diligent consumers, most people are unaware of what is on their plate as they sit down to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plastics leached into drinks, pesticides in vegetables, toxic chemicals in a variety of edible stuff and, in recent times, genetically modified organisms in corn, soya, canola, papaya and so on are presented to us in the form of food.
Overwhelming corporate greed now manipulates our food. The GM industry is keen to cash in on our hunger, but is resisting even labelling its products, which are freely sold and consumed only in the United States. The rapacious commerce of the GM companies that seeks to shackle our food supply to corporate licensing and intellectual property restrictions now seeks new territories as food prices rise. “GM is the only way,” we are being told sternly. Farmers who label their produce to be GM-free are pursued by agents of powerful corporate interests, with threats of lawsuits and penalties. In short, we are all being made an offer which corporates hope we cannot refuse.
In this sombre milieu, there is a nascent effort underway in Chennai to popularise organic food, produce that is untainted by chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and hopefully, GM content.
ReStore is the name of this nature-oriented enterprise, and today, The Hindu has a report on its activities here. It is heartening that finding certified organic food is now possible, and that the movement is gaining ground in Tamil Nadu, on the lines of Kerala where it is the official policy.
Such is the bizarre nature of intensive agriculture today, that cattle in the United States are often fed the remains of other cattle, multiplying the ill-effects of toxic policies. They are fed hormones and chemicals to achieve quick growth and resist disease, with these materials being subsequently ingested by humans. Such is the level of public feeling on this corporate avarice that Monsanto, the standard bearer for GM, recently decided to sell its unit making recombinant bovine growth hormone (read the New York Times report on this here. Monsanto’s foundation of greed is exposed in this investigation published by Vanity Fair, and its defensive attitude to a dubious business is highlighted by this Businessweek story.)
One must welcome ReStore and hope that it is able to ensure the purity of the chain of production, expand its operations with help from enlightened citizens, and enlist wide support, so that we can eat organic with peace of mind.