When the GM issue crops up

Of late, reports about experts who believe that Genetically Modified (GM) crops are not necessarily being of help in relieving a food crisis and how their toxicity levels are still a cause for concern, have been in the news. Against this backdrop, the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) is conducting a movement titled India for Safe Food and has tied up with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to organise a screening of Ajay Bharadwaj’s documentary So Shall You Reap.

The film depicts the Bt cotton experience in India, highlights the losses suffered by farmers, the allergies caused by them, animal deaths and field trial violations. Also being discussed are regulatory failures, successful alternatives to GM and the new organic farming movement that brings hope for the agricultural and social crisis.

Still from So Shall You Reap

Speaking about the event, Geeta Jhamb, member of ASHA, says, “The movie takes you to Punjab and shows the failure of the Green Revolution and how organic farming is the only solution ahead. Our India for Safe Food campaign is directed towards creating awareness amongst ministers and officials about how GM crops are harmful to the environment, the farmer’s and consumers’ health. By month-end, we hope to get a petition ready with signatures from people across the country and by early October we hope to present our petition to politicians.”

ASHA is an alliance made up of several NGOs and their demands revolve around phasing out pesticides, banning of GM crops and bringing back organic methods of farming. Till date, screenings have been held in colleges along with interactions on this topic with the youth.

They have also held a general screening at the Maharashtra Nature Park at Dharavi and in Thane. Plans are afloat to hold an organic food fest to make people aware of how organic food is a better option and to encourage people to grow their own vegetables.

“Indians are some of the largest consumers of pesticides which is alarming; farmers are often illiterate and use a much larger amount than is printed. Movies like So Shall You Reap and Poison on the Platter have proved very helpful in educating the audiences,” she adds. At the end of the event there will be a discussion where viewers can pose questions as well.

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