Mahesh Bhatt says: Promotion of Genetically Modified Food is an Act of Bio-terrorism!!
Renowned filmmaker and social activist Mahesh Bhatt today launched a scathing attack on biotech multinational companies and their nexus with regulatory bodies for unleashing what he describes as ‘bio-terrorism’ in the country. Speaking at a function organized to launch his new film, ‘Poison on the Platter‘, directed by Ajay Kanchan, Bhatt said, “in their mad rush to capture the multi-billion dollar Indian agricultural and food industry, the biotech MNCs are bulldozing warnings by scientists about the adverse impact of GM foods on health and environment, and hurtling the mankind toward a disaster, which will be far more destructive than anything the world has seen so far, simply because it will affect every single person living on this planet”.
Bhatt’s film makes a mockery of Government of India’s claim of not allowing import of any GM foods in the country as it conclusively demonstrates that supermarkets in India are flooded with harmful food stuff and biotech MNCs are cashing on the ignorance of unsuspecting consumers in India. “Indians are unfortunately kept in dark, and the corporations are hatching strategies to cash in on their ignorance. Poison on the Platter is, therefore, an attempt to generate awareness among consumers and kick start an informed debate on the issue”, said Bhatt.
Trials of GM foods on lab animals across the world have repeatedly shown that they cause bleeding stomachs, and adversely affect brain, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas and intestine. They have been even linked to higher offspring mortality and causing infertility.
“Are we ready to eat a food that has the potential to stunt our growth, impair our immune system and adversely affect all our vital organs”, asks Ajay Kanchan, director of the documentary, adding that “It’s shocking that instead of protecting the interests of farmers and consumers, regulatory bodies in India are pandering to the greed of biotech MNCs like Monsanto, whose track record is littered with lies, deceptions and notorious ability to corrupt the regulatory bodies all over the world”.
“I can say with absolute confidence that there is irrefutable and overwhelming evidence that genetically engineered foods are harmful and that they are not being evaluated properly by the governments of India, United States, the European Union, or anywhere in the world.” Said Jeffrey M. Smith, Founder Director, Institute of Responsible Technology and author of two widely respected books on health impact of GM foods – Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, adding that “this is one of the most dangerous technologies ever introduced on earth, and it’s being deployed in our food supply. It’s madness, what we need is a political willingness to say no more”.
Noted food policy analyst Devinder Sharma said, “India is fast becoming the world’s biggest dustbin for this risky and unwanted technology. We are being told that these crops are essential for feeding the growing population, but there is not even one GM crop that produces higher yields. In fact, many of the GM crops produce less than the existing crops. And yet, as many as 56 foods crops are being genetically modified in India.” In spite of a number of independent scientific studies pointing out the potentially damaging impacts of Bt crops, Government of India is about to approve the first food crop, Bt brinjal. “So far we were told that by proper washing the veggies you could get rid of the harmful pesticides residues. That may not hold true anymore, because with genetic modification, the toxins will be right inside the vegetables”, Sharma added.
In India, the only commercially cultivated GM crop Bt Cotton, has so far proved extremely harmful for human beings and animals. Hundreds of farmers working in Bt Cotton fields developed skin allergies that were not known before, while thousands of cattle, sheep and goats that went for grazing there died in no time. “What we need is a moratorium on release of any GM crop and sale of any GM seed for at least next 5 to 7 years, till their safety is not assured through stringent and impartial tests, because what’s at stake here is not just our health but our very survival”, said Dr Pushpa M. Bhargava, Founder Director, Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology and Supreme Court’s nominee in the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).
Concluding a panel discussion following the screening of the film, Mahesh Bhatt said, “We cannot remain a mute spectator and let the biotech companies fill their coffers by using our bodies as their slaves in India. If the Government and regulatory bodies continue to ignore warnings by scientists and release any GM food crop, I won’t mind spearheading a countrywide campaign on the scale that India has not seen since the days of Independent movement for one simple reason that we all feel hungry and we can’t live without eating food”.