3 more items on the GM debate in India:
1. Scientists warn against genetically modified food
2. Big scare story - Bainbridge in India!!
3. India: Greenpeace protest at science meet
Scientists warn against genetically modified food
Times of India, Tuesday 9 Jan 2001
NEW DELHI: Genetically engineered plants and animals to feed a hungry world and genetically-derived sources of energy to meet the increasing fuel needs of the future may sound music to the ears of anyone, specially the policy-makers of the third world.
But a group of biotechnologists warn that the genetically modified food and medicine may expose us to new and unexpected health hazards and harm the environment.
As these food and medicine are being developed against the principles of nature and being thrust on us without proper risk assessment studies and regulations, they would cause long-term health hazards, they say.
A major controversy has erupted recently on the multinational companies' plans to introduce genetically modified food crops in India that they say would increase productivity and have better traits like enriched vitamins. Even the Indian Science Congress last week came out openly in support of introducing these crops to increase production in the country.
One group of scientists and biotechnologists claims that the food needs of an increasing population could only be met by the recent advances in the field of biotechnology which uses genetic engineering, cloning and introduction of beneficial genes in the food crops consumed by human beings while other group is horrified of the idea of genetically modified food.
They caution that it was a golden trap as the genetically modified food have been rejected by the people in the west for conventional items, so the multinational companies were now trying to make poor people of Asia and Africa as guinea pigs.
Eminent biotechnologist Pushpa Bhargava says that the ground work was being prepared by multinational companies to promote genetically engineered food like golden rice variety by claiming that it was a rich source of vitamin A. However, no proper risk assessment studies of the variety has been done till now, he says. Once launched, it could cause havoc with the native varieties, he cautions.
[Janet Bainbridge is head of the UK's novel foods regulatory commmittee, ACNFP, and, as such, also sits on ACRE. She is renowned for her pro-GM sympathies. For more on Tom Wakeford's work with Indian farmers see: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/feedtheworld.htm]
Bright sparks all the way
THE HINDU January 8, 2001
NEW DELHI, JAN.7. [shortened]
What has the ancient myth of Narasimha to do with Dolly, the first cloned sheep that promises to take the world to the 21st Century with the exciting possibility of conquering that final frontier in science -- the process of creation itself? Probably nothing. But "Dolly and Beyond" is the theme of "Bright Sparks", a festival of Indo-British partnerships in Science that began in the Capital over the weekend with Mr. Stephen Byers, the U.K. Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, hoping that it would lead to strengthening of co- operation between our two countries in the field of science. Over the next seven days, six British scientists -- Nancy Lane, Richard Perham, Ian Hutchinson, Janet Bainbridge, Jamshed Tata and Tom Wakeford -- who are here at the invitation of the British Council, will interact with Indian scientists, opinion-makers, planners and students to communicate on-going researches in bio- technology to enhance the public understanding of science.
The highlight of the inaugural event was a sound and light fantasy show on "Biotechnology and the Future". While the various possibilities of biotechnology and cloning were highlighted, the key aspiration that rang through a dance ballet of Narasimha Avatar was: "The next step is the creation of man. Was this foreseen in mythology?" The Delhi leg of the "Bright Sparks" will begin with a professional interaction at The National Institute of Immunology and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) which is open to scientists and professionals. There will also be a public lecture on Monday evening on "Genes and Immunity" at the British Council. On January 9, Tom Wakeford, who represents ActionAid -- U.K., will have an interaction with school students at the National Science Centre on "Feeding the World of Frankenstein Food?" "There is a lot of opposition worldwide to the genetically modified foods from farmers.
In India, we organised a farmer's court in a village near Bangalore last February and what we found was that farmers are not very happy with these kinds of changes," Tom says.
India: Greenpeace protest at science meet
BUSINESS LINE, January 7, 2001
NEW DELHI, Jan. 6. 'BRIGHT Sparks', the annual week-long, Indo-British partnership in science opened today amidst demonstrations and poster display by Greenpeace activists outside the British Council. The activists gathered for nearly two hours before the opening show distributing pamphlets on the environmental and health risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which was one of the topics for 'Bright Sparks', which is focussing on biotechnology this time. Greenpeace said British Council was being used as a tool by the advocates of genetic engineering to build a false image of this technology here in India and to create new market opportunities for themselves.