Food, Agriculture, Science & You – At a time when Punjab is in the throes of politics, with the election just over and kite-flying about the prospects of Aam Aadmi Party and Congress in full swing, is it not time to talk some real political stuff? We do exactly that in this debate.
On the panel:
1. Devinder Sharma
Agriculture & Food Policies’ Analyst
2. Kavitha Kuruganti
Kisan Swaraj Alliance, leading voice against GM Crops, Stands for Safe Food Movement, Advocates Organic farming, Wants reforms in marketing
3. Umendra Dutt
Kheti Virasat Mission, big time advocate of Swadeshi, Stands against MNC-driven research and agendas
4. Hamir Singh
Rural Policies’ Analyst & Commentator, Senior Journalist, Social and Political Activist
The world needs food for new millions it adds. Scientists say it is possible to get food to everyone if production goes much higher, and that is possible only through GM crops. Activists have been crying hoarse that it is a false argument, that production is already enough, that GM crops are like playing a dangerous game with nature, and the scientists’ monopoly over knowledge is a myth.
The problem with such debates is that they seemingly do not sound political because we do not throw about references to Arvind Kejriwal, Amarinder Singh or Sukhbir Singh Badal, but in a really political debate, as opposed to alt-right post-truth times, this would be the stuff of electioneering.
This debate follows close on the heels of Monsanto’s withdrawal of its application seeking approval for its next generation of GM cotton seeds in India, seen as a major escalation in a long-running dispute. The debate is also important since India is the conglomerate’s biggest market outside the Americas.
Just to give you a background, Monsanto strongly objects to the Indian government’s proposal to force it share technology with local seed companies, and also over how much it can charge for its GM cotton seeds.
We in this debate veered away from specifics of Monsanto issue but dealt with the entire smorgasbord of factors in more generic terms, including the pointed questions about whether it is science versus politics.
We also ask how strong are our regulators, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) included.
A significant portion of the debate deals with safe food movement, and we posit if it is positioned against food for all goal. We ask if there is an anti-GM dogma, and as you can guess, the anchor gets some flak for it.
There are some references about how so little of our food is truly “natural” and that even the most basic crops are a result of some form of human manipulation. Man-made selection is capable of generating forms that are extremely unlikely to occur in nature.
If you want to know more, you can google about modern watermelons, polyploidy, ginger and apples being triploid, potatoes and cabbage as tetraploid, and some strawberry varieties being even octoploid, or having eight sets of chromosomes.
You can also google the reference to 2012 study by Stanford University’s Centre for Health Policy which found no robust evidence that organic food is more nutritious.
This episode of Daleel was first telecast on February 8, 2017. Feedback, suggestions welcome at email@example.com. Also, please help spread the word about DALEEL, an effort at cerebral television in times of dumbing down of the news media.
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