Genetically Modified Foods

let me

I came across an excellent article in the Times of India while researching Ayurvedic medicine. The article was written in Sept. 2013 by Shuvendu Sen.  Talk about “profound”!  I must applaud this author’s penmanship.  It is very hard to step outside the box and disagree which certainly risks prosecution to some extent if not a great extent!

I quote:

“I won’t stir the curd. For, some curds are so hardened in texture that stirs don’t work. It’s like throwing pebbles in a mighty ocean where ripples don’t matter.

The GMO furor has been one such.

Ever since the first Genetically Modified organism (GMO) got implemented in 1996 and GM foods slowly made their way into commercial markets, controversies have raged like a hurricane let loose. Debate is an understatement here. There is no standard podium to stand and argue. Papers, counter papers, organizations, counter organizations are spewing venom at each other with unbridled ferocity.

Freedom of thought is one thing. But lawless freedom can never be the norm. More so in scientific pursuit. It’s healthy and just to have a million opinions. But when facts become tampered we are in trouble.

On one hand, we have the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidences, airing the same conclusion: ‘that consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.’

On the extreme other we have advocacy groups like Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, Organic Consumers Association, and Center for Food Safety bellowing concerns that potential risks to health and the environment relating to GM have not yet been adequately investigated.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine goes a step further. According to their own research evidences “several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.”

Caught in the crossfire of such ridiculously contradictory scientific and pseudo-scientific evidences, the common man and woman walk headless. They have absolutely no clue where to go, whom to go, what to or not to eat.

In other words, the quintessential question goes answered. Who’s going to educate the public? An absurd situation where the very beholders of all these experiments are kept in the lurch.

Japan makes a point here. According to the Consumers Union of Japan  truly independent research in these areas is being systematically blocked by the GM corporations which own the GM seeds and reference materials.

Indeed, independence in research has been studied by a 2011 analysis into conflicts of interest which found a significant correlation between author affiliation to industry and study outcome in scientific work published on health risks or nutritional assessment studies of genetically modified products.

A glorious example comes from Dr. Miller, physician and molecular biologist from  Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who hails India’s ‘hypocrisy’. According to him and I quote “Such discrimination has several root causes. They include the political influence of environmental activists and a deep-seated distrust of industry. But this flies in the face of existing scientific consensus, if activists and bureaucrats ever bothered about that.”

Excellent comments. But why doesn’t he see the same reasons with the European Union reluctant to adopt the same GMOs? The fact that he was the founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology is of course another matter!

This brings us to India and her stand on these issues.

With the big bellied bio tech industries prophesying that world hunger would be eradicated once GM crops and food consume the earth, India jumps in for the easy fix. Completely ignoring the fact that as far as India is concerned the problem lies not in the production but in its distribution. India has enough food grain — almost two-and-a-half times the required buffer stock — and yet 200 million Indians go hungry.

The Agricultural ministry argues that the ground reality is that during the last decade, area under cotton cultivation (approx. 12 million hectares, of which 90% is under Bt cotton) and productivity of cotton has gone up significantly”.

I am not refuting these statistics. Yet beneath the talkative assurances lies the overhanging silence. Why completely ignore the logistics of the European Union and other countries and not employ more patience before dumping genetically tampered foods on its citizens? What not have  independent research methodologies to address the pros and cons of GMOs? How about reaching out to the community a bit more than handing out the usual olive branch?

Science in the hands of politics and economics has always been the sheep before the shepherd’s stick.

When it comes to human health, exceptions have to be made. ”  End of quote

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