Bio Tech or Bio Terror

November 13, 2009

Introduction

On October 14, the Indian Government’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) gave a green signal for the first commercial release of a genetically modified food crop (BT eggplant, brinjal), despite widespread disapproval from citizens, NGOs, farmer organizations and scientists. The decision has led to fury, protests and fasts in states across India on October 16, World Food day.

After having successfully reduced the fertility of the fertile soil making it poisonous with chemical fertilizers, cheating the innocent poor farmers by alluring them to buy terminated seeds and chemical fertilizers with false promise of increased yield, causing the death of many domestic animals by producing BT cotton, the BT (Biological Terrorism) scientists are now experimenting on food crops.

To know more about Genetically modified foods, their disastrous consequences on health etc, read the below article.

How are Genetically modified foods created?

Genes are found in every cell of all living organisms, determining the characteristics, structure, and growth of successive generations. To create genetically modified food, a gene is taken from one organism and forcibly inserted in the genetic code of another unrelated organism, giving it new traits. Overriding ethical and specie barriers, scientists have introduced genes from bacteria, viruses and animals like fish and scorpions into vegetables, and human genes into rice. (www. iamnolabrat. com).

In “a plate full of toxins” (9/11/09), an open letter to M. S. Swaminathan, the chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, agricultural activist Dr. Vandana Shiva writes: “Genetic engineering is a crude and blind technology of shooting genes into an organism through a “gene gun.” It’s like infecting the organism with cancer. It is not known if the transgene is introduced, and that is why antibiotic resistance markers have to be used. Nor is it known where in the genome the transgene gets introduced. This is not “accuracy”, it is literally shooting in the dark.”

Advocates of genetic modification claim that BT (Bacillus Thuringenesis) is a naturally occurring bacterium that produces crystal proteins lethal only to insect larvae. A brinjal with inbuilt BT toxin in every cell could kill unwanted pests (like the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer, Leucinodes orbonalis), and theoretically increase yields and reduce hunger, all without the external usage of pesticides. Raju Barwale, the managing director of Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd, Mahyco (owned by multinational biotech giant Monsanto) argues that “insect-resistant BT brinjal has been in development for nine years and has been tested in full compliance with the guidelines and directives of the regulatory authorities to ensure its safety. It is the most rigorously tested vegetable, with 25 environmental biosafety studies supervised by independent and government agencies. It has the same nutritional value and is compositionally identical to non-BT brinjal, except for the additional BT protein which is specific in its action against the BFSB.”

Consequences at all levels

To this Vandana Shiva replies, “while it is true that the naturally-occurring BT (which is an endo toxin) becomes a toxin only in the gut of insect larvae, the genetically-engineered BT is a readymade toxin. Navdanya’s research in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, has shown that BT cotton is killing beneficial micro-organisms in the soil. Reports of deaths of animals grazing in BT cotton fields are also related to the fact that BT in plants is a broad spectrum, readymade toxin unlike the naturally occurring BT.”

According to Sangita Sharma, who leads My Right to Safe Food campaign in India, “genes that are inserted into GE crops transfer into the DNA of the bacteria inside your intestines and might turn it into living pesticide factories, possibly for the rest of your life. This means that long after you stop eating GE foods, your own gut bacteria might be producing these foreign proteins, which might be allergenic, toxic or carcinogenic.” (www. myrighttosafefood. blogspot. com). In addition, the antibiotic resistant marker gene (used to mark cells in the host organism that have successfully received the alien genes) can spread to other disease-causing organisms in the environment, making them immune to antibiotics as well.

A study conducted in January 2009 by Gilles-Eric Seralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen in France, concluded that “BT brinjal cannot be considered as safe. The agreement for BT brinjal release into the environment, for food, feed or cultures, may present a serious risk for human and animal health and the release should be forbidden.” He also added that the tests conducted by Mahyco were simply not valid and raised serious health concerns.

Additional studies linked genetically modified food to stunted growth, impaired immune systems, potentially precancerous cell growth in the intestines, enlarged livers, pancreases and intestines, higher blood sugar and reduced fertility. These encouraged over 175 regions and 4,500 municipalities in Europe to declare themselves GM-free zones and oppose genetically modified exports from the US, which grows 57 percent of the world’s transgenic crops.

In India, poor farmers are promised higher yields by converting from traditional seed saving to BT cotton. However, often times they are not told that BT cotton also requires costly artificial inputs, like irrigation and industrial pesticides, which only a few of them can afford. Although the exact figures and circumstances are subject to much debate between civil and scientific organizations, the fact remains that in the last decade thousands of farmers in the BT cotton belt of Punjab, Vidarbha, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka committed suicide due to repeatedly failing crops and increasing debts.

In the light of such unfulfilled promises, why would anyone support and grow genetically modified crops? Well, huge amounts of money are at stake. The global market in 2000 was worth over two-thousand billion dollars a year, with Monsanto producing 90 percent of the world’s genetically modified crops. Genetic modification provides companies like Monsatno exclusive rights to biotechnology patents under the title of “intellectual property”, allowing them to extract high prices from farmers, either through increasingly expensive research products
(e. g. Round-up herbicide, “Golden Rice”, and sterile “Terminator” seeds) or lawsuits.

The genetic engineering industry is a well-organized system of collaboration between scientific educational facilities, government legislative support, and industry-dependent agricultural subsidies that encourage developing countries to compete over trade instead of meeting their food requirements locally. As Sreedhara Bhasin wrote for the Tribune in “Caution! GM foods may be on the way” (10/11/2009): “Days after the government announced introduction of genetically modified food crops in the country, Hillary Clinton who happened to be on her first visit as the US Secretary of State, which included a trip to India’s leading agriculture institute (PUSA), heartily supported transferring ‘cutting-edge technology’ to raise crop yields. Like many proponents of GM industry, Hillary Clinton mouthed the shibboleths – world hunger and high yielding crops . . . GM research and production are costly ventures and the biotech companies expect to make substantial profits on their investment. Many GM technology, plants and seeds are already patented by the leading GM companies, and it would be childish to believe that the ex-gratia support of the US government is for the future of a hunger-free India.” Besides, do profits really justify the patenting of living organisms and claiming false proprietorship over life?

Gene pollution does not end with eggplants. In India, at least 56 genetically modified crops are undergoing various stages of research and trials, of which 41 are food crops. These include corn, cauliflower, chickpea, peanut, mustard, okra, potato, papaya, tomato, rice, and cabbage. Once genetically modified food is released into the environment, it cannot be contained or recalled. Since the genetic integrity of the species is harmed, there is an increased chance for transgenic contamination of other natural organisms, either by cross pollination in plants or digestion by animals and humans. Furthermore, genetically modified plants are designed to look exactly like the originals, depriving consumers of their right to make informed choices in regard to what they eat, especially in the unlabeled Indian market.

Conclusion

Man’s unnecessary interference in the working of God made nature has always created havoc to ecology, human society and other beings. The modern day demoniac attempts to manipulate nature will only worsen the already bad situation.

Food is a gift of nature to nourish our body so that we can work towards spiritual emancipation. Nature in itself is perfect. All we need to do is to simply live parallel to nature, retain it without polluting. Then all our needs are fulfilled by nature.

Instead of wasting time and the tax payers money in disrupting the nature’s natural way of working, the human society would to do better to accept the nutritious food provided by Mother Nature and utilize the remaining time in spiritual cultivation.

Authored by Madhur Gauranga Dasa

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