PEOPLE CONCERNED about changes being made in their food, especially at the genetic level, came together at the Sukhna Lake on Friday morning under the umberalla of Sarson Satyagraha. The activists, connected with morning walkers, spoke to them about the dangers of genetically modified food being promoted by multi-national corporations and carried placards and banners decrying GM food, particularly GM mustard.
In May this year, a regulatory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, had given its go-ahead for cultivation of genetically modified mustard. Earlier, it was Bt cotton that was genetically modified and its ill-effects on the ecology are for all to see.
Now mustard, a traditional and important crop linked to good health, will be manipulated so that traditional seeds of this crop will be destoyed in a systemic manner. The awareness drive against such changes under the name of Sarson Satyagraha is being carried out by citizens all over India. “Propagation of GM technology is ill-conceived and doesn’t take into account the fact that the nature is alive and you cannot mess with it for your short-term goals,” said Shivraj Bhullar, a local farmer from Chandigarh Organic Farmer’s Market.
Seeza Bhardwaj said she was for sustainable agriculture practices and GM crops once introduced would contaminate all varieties of mustard in India by cross-pollination and people had the right to demand safe food. “All we are saying is please have a dialogue on the safety of GM crops, which have never been tested for human consumption, before introducing an irreversible change in our food chain,” said Harkamal.