Sunday, March 3, 2013

Organic and Organic Only !!

In an earlier post, I shared a video about the importance of seeds in human history. This post, Organic and Organic only, is an extension to that.

It is sad that a certain few chemical companies are creating products (?) that hopes to overturn all of the development of farming over thousands of years.

Btw, are they really creating products ?  Vandana Shiva, well know environmentalist and scientist, who has dedicated her life for this cause, calls most of GMO activity as "steal our seeds or put a toxic gene in it". She is absolutely right. We are all familiar with seeds coz every fruit, every vegetable, every grain on this planet - every plant has one. In fact, humans (male and female) have a seed that lead to birth of our offspring. Now, lets see an example of what a "certain" chemical company has done. This chemical company's product is, chemicals (obviously :-D). However, what they have cleverly done is, take a seed, genetically modify it (put a gene that made it resistant to their chemicals), and clone/reproduce it and sell it in market claiming it can withstand their chemical herbicides and pesticides. So, when a farmer buys the GMO seeds and uses in his farm, he can happily use the chemicals without a worry of it affecting the crop while it destroys the herbs and pests that infects. Voila - chemical company have a winner of a product in their hand. Produce the seed and then sell the chemicals as well.

Btw, how did these so called chemical corporates get the approval to go ahead and do modification on seeds ? How did they get approval for such an initiative from government (s) and regulatory bodies ? They (chemical corporates) made a simple claim of improving the seeds by Genetic modification so that farming can yield more and feed more people. How did they substantiate their claim - by modifying seeds to withstand their own chemicals. Most or 90 % of the GMO being done on seeds is to make it resistant to chemicals or adding a gene that kills insects that prey on them. Nothing substantiative is done on the seeds except to making it withstand chemicals or add a gene that is harmful to pests that infects it. However, recent findings have shown that pests have adopted to this change in plants and have become even more virulent and potent and are harmful to kill. So, GMO ver2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and so on is being done by these companies, pushing new seeds which are more harmful to animals or can withstand even harmful chemicals if sprayed on them. 

Here, the issues are manifold:
  1. The Genetic modification of the seeds and its impact on humans are not fully tested. This whole activity, genetic modification of seeds and their adoption in farming, started in the 1990's and the long term health and generational impact of such a change have neither been fully understood nor could be completely studied.
  2. The genetic modification introduced in these seeds led to various other genetic mutation within plants that made them harmful for animals and humans after consumption. Various diseases and health concerns are attributed to GMO seeds in our food system.
  3. The impact on earth - soil, water and air were not fully tested or understood, hence, GMO seeds were introduced without their impact fully assessed.
  4. The key business aspect of these seeds are - once fully grown, they produce little or no new seeds for farmers to use for next sowing. Basically, most of these GMO seeds are intentionally made to yield less seeds upon full growth or be impotent. This is what drives the sale of the seeds, year after year, season after season.
  5. Ignorant of all the details about the GMO seeds, a farmer buys and plants it in hope of better yields and In the process, he loses his natural, NON-GMO seeds. In short time, he realizes there are no NON-GMO seeds available (anymore/anywhere) for him to go back to the old ways of farming: GMO seeds dont give seeds back to you upon harvest, all the farmers in and around your region are also converted to GMO seeds. This leaves you no option to borrow old/natural type/NON-GMO seeds for the next season once you had lost all your seeds. This is how the farmer debt trap got created and lead to suicides in the Vidharbha region of India where BT Cotton was planted predominantly.
Of course, not all of the GMO research and activities being carried out in the world are harmful and some may be proving beneficial. However, most of the GMO done in farming/food crops are  done not with the "Claimed" intention - helping farmers, increasing yield and making seeds resistant to "what not" but with the aim of collecting royalties on each seed, as ground realities have shown since the last two decades. 

Market check

Kindly recall one thing - every fruit we eat, gives us a seed. If we plant that seed and nurture it, a tree grows out of it. If nature is so benevolent, who are these corporates to take away that right from us ?

Please remember the following:
  • Buy Organic, always, and as much as possible.
  • Encourage your friends to do the same.
  • Chances are, most of the restaurants now don't use organic in their food, as it is costly. However, if consumers demand it, I see them changing to organic in future.
  • For kids and babies, please always provide good organic food.
  • Grow your food, if possible, there is nothing better than it. One need not have acres of farm lands, even the house backyard is good enough to grow few things.
Edited: A quick handy guide to decide which items to buy as organic: as a thumb rule, prefer Organic for fruits/vegetables that have thin skin.

Btw, Vandana Shiva is an inspirational figure; I consider her as motherly figure for most of us coz her work, though largely unknown, if successful, will be one of the guiding stars of our world. She created Navdanya, which conserves India's diverse and versatile seeds so that they are not lost in this onslaught from GMO seeds. Take a look at her speaking in Brazil last year.

Please take time to watch the below movie - Genetic Roulette. It released last year and it details the impact of GMO and farmer suicides in India, Health issues in Africa and also talks about the now defeated California GMO labeling bill.

However, one can always vote for Organic whenever one buys at the grocery store. Do this much to yourselves and for all our collective future.

Edited: The Genetic Roulette movie got removed but please watch the below movies; I have shared trailers here. The movie bitter seeds talk about farmer suicides in India, especially in Vidharbha region and how BT cotton is the little known, but main reason for it.

Seeds of Freedom