Are you a lab rat?

Oct 16, 2011, 09:47 IST | Yolande D'Mello

Cartoonist Jaykrishnan Menon dishes out food for thought. His comic strip titled I'm No Lab Rat is about Genetically Modified (GM) foods and the havoc it's playing with farmers and our ecosystem 

Bengaluru-based Jaykrishnan Menon would often sit on the last bench of his math class, drawing doodles to create a image of his trigonometry professor. But the numbers just didn't add up. After realising that his notebooks were filled with more doodles than theorems, he switched careers and launched Centre Of Gravity, a creative company.

While Indians might not have floppy ears and a tail like Side-effect, it's
easy to see the play on the common man who swallows whatever is
dished out by producers

One of the first projects to come by his way left the client laughing and pondering at once. I'm No Lab Rat is a cartoon that explains the plight of farmers and the dilemma of consumers, with the help of a rat named Side-effect and a mad scientist simply referred to as Doc. Side-effect plays the naive consumer who the mad scientist uses to test new agricultural produce.

"My task was to explain the complex issue of why GM foods are dangerous, touching on the politics behind the issue and corporate backing it received in India. Using cartoons, I was able to amplify the reach of the message," explains Menon.

While he also works on brand campaigns for MNCs, 80 per cent of Menon's clients are people behind social initiatives in search of ways to get the word out, but don't have the big bucks for it. "People are not adequately aware. I had to educate myself about GM foods too. While the Bt Brinjal made news, the issue itself has many layers.

Farmers are made to believe that the technology might give them fast results but in the long run, it deteriorates the soil and can be harmful to consumers. With the water table declining and farmer debts skyrocketing, pressure lends itself to a quick fix that can lead to long term damage," says Menon. The I'm No Lab Rat campaign, which launched early last year, has been able to educate and garner public outrage since.

For the full series of I'm No Lab Rat comics, visit

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