Saturday, March 19, 2011

SFA organizes Organic Food Mela in Chennai - 19th March 2011

SAFE FOOD ALLIANCE urges consumers to go organic and seek safe healthy
ORGANIC FOOD MELA attracts 1000s to safe healthy consumption.
Chennai 19th March 2011

Colorful Organic mela organized by Safe Food Alliance, at the Semmozhi Poonga
attracted 1000s to the various stalls set to showcase the seed diversity, organic food,
traditional rice and millets varieties, natural dyeing, ills of chemical pesticides and
GMO. There has been repeated proof in recent times that the sustainable and future of
agriculture is in the sphere of small, diverse farms growing food through sustainable
farming techniques using organic farming methods and the capacity of such methods to
feed the world.

‘The organic mela is the first of the several that the SFA group plans to hold across Tamil
Nadu to emphasis the goodness of organic food, the amazing nutritional value and health
through local millets and to emphasis on the need for consumer awareness on safe and
healthy eating habits. This is being organized as a fellow citizen to bring awareness about
our alienation from food and farming’ observed Ananthoo, coordinator of SFA. He also
added that consumers needed to have more understanding of food, farmer and farming to
create a win-win situation for both us consumers and for the farmers’.

‘While organic food leaves less carbon foot print and is kind on the ecology, it is also
more nutritive and free of adulteration. Such practices are not only safe options for
consumers but ecologically and economically sustainable for the farmers too’ said
Radhika who runs a not-for-profit organic store called Restore, along with friends.

The visitors had a chance to interact with organic farmers, women SHGs, experts and
celebrities during the course of the organic mela and also got to taste food made out
of traditional recipes from organic millets. They also had hands on exposure to natural
dyeing in one of the stalls. There were also other stalls on publications, hazards of
chemical pesticides and Genetically Modified food.

Genetically Modified food has been debated only amongst the few informed citizens,
farmers and scientists, though such food being introduced in the market will impact
the health and life of everyone who consumes the same. Safe Food Alliance along with
several organic farming networks across the state has been creating awareness and debate
on the need to reject such unnecessary and greed driven technology in agriculture. IAM
NO LAB RAT was a campaign with several celebrities participating that was launched
with the view of protesting against citizens being treated as a lab rat by corporate
scientists for an environmentally irreversible and safety wise untested GM food.
Dr G Sivaraman of Poovalagin Nanbargal said “The campaign is being currently re-
launched through a national network of sustainable agriculture practitioners and organic
food consumers. While we are not against technology per se, it should be safe beyond
any doubt, eco-friendly and be within reach of common man.” He also added that “we
are heartened by the response of the public in writing to the PM against the use of GM

food and their concerns about using the citizens as lab rats for corporate greed and profit.
There is a danger of the diversity and traditional varieties being lost.”

Earlier this week experts and activists of SFA gave a fitting response to the PM for
promoting GM rice by forwarding an unique gift hamper comprising various local foods
that are rich in Vitamin-A, but cost effective and easily accessible! Then they also urged
all political parties to clearly state their stand on sensitive issues like GM and pesticides
and issue clear support for sustainable (ecological as well as economical) agriculture in
the run up to the elections and incorporate the demands on safe food in their respective

For more information, contact: Dr. Sivaraman, 9444027455 or or Selva Ganapathy 9790951652
or Ananthoo, 9444166779 of Safe Food Alliance, Chennai.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SFA media briefing - press clips

Following is from Dinamani, one of the largest Tamil Dailies (link)

பிரதமருக்கு முருங்கைக் கீரை-பப்பாளி!

First Published : 16 Mar 2011 04:56:38 AM IST

சென்னை, மார்ச் 15: வைட்டமின் ஏ சத்து நிறைந்த முருங்கைக் கீரை, பப்பாளி, தண்டுக் கீரை, கேரட், தினை அரிசி ஆகியவற்றை பிரதமர் மன்மோகன் சிங்கிடம், ""பாதுகாப்பான உணவிற்கான கூட்டமைப்பை''ச் சேர்ந்தவர்கள் அளிக்க உள்ளனர்.
பாதுகாப்பான உணவிற்கான கூட்டமைப்பைச் சேர்ந்த டாக்டர் சுல்தான் இஸ்மாயில், டாக்டர் ஜி.சிவராமன், அனந்து, செல்வகணபதி ஆகியோர் உலக நுகர்வோர் உரிமை தினத்தை (மார்ச் 15) முன்னிட்டு செய்தியாளர்களிடம் செவ்வாய்க்கிழமை கூறியதாவது:
""தில்லியில் சர்வதேச வேளாண் கருத்தரங்கை பிரதமர் மன்மோகன் சிங் அண்மையில் தொடங்கி வைத்துப் பேசும்போது, மரபணு தொழில்நுட்பத்தில் உருவாக்கப்பட்ட வைட்டமின் ஏ சத்து செறிவூட்டப்பட்ட கோல்டன் அரிசி தேவை என்றார்.
இந்தியாவுக்கு இத்தகைய அரிசி தேவை இல்லை. இந்திய மருத்துவ ஆய்வியல் நிறுவனத்தின் தினசரி உணவுப் பரிந்துரைப் பட்டியலின்படி, "கோல்டன் அரிசியிலிருந்து' வைட்டமின் ஏ சத்தைப்பெற அதை 9 கிலோ அளவுக்குச் சாப்பிட்டாக வேண்டும்.
முருங்கைக் கீரை-கறிவேப்பிலையில் வைட்டமின் ஏ சத்து நிறைந்துள்ளது. கேரட்டைக் காட்டிலும் முருங்கைக் கீரையில் பீட்டா கரோட்டின் சத்து அதிகம். எனவே உடல் நலத்துக்கு பாதுகாப்பானதா என்று அறியப்படாத "கோல்டன் அரிசி' போன்ற மரபணுப் பயிர்களை அவசர அவசரமாக சந்தைப்படுத்த முயற்சி செய்வது வேதனை அளிக்கிறது.
உலகெங்கும் நடந்த பல்வேறு ஆய்வுகளின் அடிப்படையில், உடல் எடை அதிகரிப்பதைத் தடுத்தல், நோய் எதிர்ப்பாற்றலை வளர விடாது செய்தல் போன்ற கேள்விகளை "கோல்டன் அரிசி' எழுப்பியுள்ள சூழலில், நமது அடிப்படை வாழ்வாதாரமான அரிசியில் இது போன்ற உத்திகளுக்கு இடம் அளிப்பது தவறு.
இதைத் தொடர்ந்து தில்லியில் உள்ள எங்களது கூட்டமைப்பைச் சேர்ந்தவர்கள் மூலம் பிரதமரிடம் மேலே குறிப்பிட்ட வைட்டமின் ஏ சத்து நிறைந்த முருங்கைக் கீரை, பப்பாளி உள்ளிட்டவற்றைப் பரிசாக அளிக்க முடிவு செய்துள்ளோம்.
இதுபோன்ற பாதுகாப்பற்ற உணவுப் பொருள்களை எதிர்க்கும் வகையில் "நான் சோதனை எலி அல்ல' என்று பொருள்படும் "ஐ ஆம் நோ லேப் ரேட்' இயக்கம் தமிழகத்தில் இந்த கூட்டமைப்பு மூலம் விரைவில் தொடங்கப்படும். சென்னை பெசன்ட் நகர் கடற்கரையில் வரும் 19-ம் தேதி சிறு தானியங்கள் மற்றும் இயற்கை உணவு விழிப்புணர்வு விழா நடத்தப்பட உள்ளது. கடந்த ஆண்டு பி.டி. கத்தரியைத் தமிழகத்திலும், பின் இந்தியாவிலும் நிறுத்தி வைக்க இந்தக் கூட்டமைப்பு போராடியது குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது' என்று அவர்கள் தெரிவித்தனர்.
other press coverage links:
Times of India -
Deccan Chronicle -

World Consumer Day - Press briefing & release- 15th March 2011

DSC00635.JPGPress Release



Chennai, March 15th 2011: Citizens associated with the Safe Food Alliance in Tamil Nadu, to commemorate the Consumer Rights Day on March 15th decided
to do a unique thing – send a gift hamper of various local foods that are rich in Vitamin-A, to educate the Prime Minister about the rich diversity of sources that the poor have to access Vitamin A and other such nutrients, without having to resort to hazardous ‘solutions’ like Golden Rice. They were reacting to the Prime Minister’s endorsement to this controversial technology during a recent international conference in
Delhi called ‘Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health’, wherein he is quoted as saying ‘Golden Rice containing beta-carotene provides the calories as well as nutritional supplements that take care of several diseases associated with Vitamin A deficiency’. Activists now gifted him with several local, affordable and safe options and wanted to know why the government is not promoting such options with the poor in the country, if it were not for providing business opportunities in the name of GM foods for
big agri-corporations.

“There are so many nutritious foods that the poor can access if there is large scale pro- active education and campaigning that the government takes up everywhere; these are foods that are affordable and safe. On the one hand, there is large scale promotion of unhealthy foods that is happening in various ways, weaning people away from time- tested healthy foods. On the other hand, the process of Genetic Engineering with which
this Golden Rice has been created is laden with imprecision and unpredictability and studies indicate various adverse health impacts including organ damage, stunted growth and metabolism, impaired immunity etc. How can the government subject its poor people to such hazardous food as though no real solutions exist and treat Indians as lab rats in an irresponsible and irreversible experiment? We urge concerned citizens to send Vit-A rich local foods like drumstick leaves and curry leaves to the Prime Minister in envelopes so that he is educated on the subject”, said Dr G Sivaraman of Poovalagin Nanbargal.

The Alliance announced that very soon, a consumer awareness campaign against GM foods called I AM NO LAB RAT will be re-launched in the state. As the first event in the campaign, an Organic Food Mela is being organized on March 19th, a Saturday, to mark Consumer Rights Day. The mela, to be held in the Marina Beach on March 19th afternoon, would have stalls which will display local seed and food diversity, organic
foods, information on chemical pesticides and GM foods, the need to shift to organic foods etc . The event will have the endorsement of many prominent citizens including celebrities of tamil cinema world.

They also objected to the state government allowing Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) to take up GM Maize trials in the state on behalf of Monsanto.

“The Tamil Nadu government seems to have forgotten the large scale opposition to GM foods that was witnessed in this state and all over the country during the Bt Brinjal debate last year. Field trials of a transgenic crop like GM Maize seem to be conducted by TNAU. GM maize poses health and environmental risks both because the agri-chemical use in the form of herbicide increases in the crop and also because of the GE technology used. While a GM crop like Bt cotton has been brought into the country on claims of
decreasing pesticide use, GM maize will actually increase use of pesticides like glyphosate! There is an emerging body of evidence against this chemical and its harmful impacts from around the world. Moreover, Monsanto is infamous for its anti-farmer profiteering operations everywhere – why should a public sector institution like TNAU be furthering the profit-mongering of this corporation? Are they on the side of ordinary
citizens in the state or on the side of Monsanto – given the nature of this largest seed corporation, TNAU cannot claim to be on the side of both citizens and Monsanto. It is also a shame that the Vice Chancellor is reported to be claiming that Bt brinjal’s academic reports find that there is no biosafety risk – can he show what were the experiments conducted, the parameters analysed and which studies or reports show this?
150320111444.jpgOn the other hand, recent analyses of the biosafety data of Bt brinjal clearly shows that there are indeed health risks to consumers; it was also shown that the crop developers masked data and the regulators ignored this. We demand that the Tamil Nadu government, to whom the TNAU is accountable, should instruct the University not to
take up any GM crop trials. Instead, the University should promote its findings on successful IPM on brinjal with methods like pheromones traps etc.”, said Professor Dr. Sultan Ismail.

The activists also wanted all political parties in Tamil Nadu to clearly state their stand on issues like GM and pesticides and issue clear support for sustainable (ecological as well
as economical) agriculture in the run up to the elections and incorporate the demands on safe food in their respective manifestos.

For more information, contact: Dr. Sivaraman, 9444027455 or or Prof. Sultan Ismail, 9384898358
or Selvaganapathy, 9790951652 of Safe Food Alliance, Chennai.


150320111460.jpgSFA Charter of Demands:

Say NO to GM food. Lack of transparent tests or analysis means its not Safe. Let
us not test it on poor citizens. Studies show harmful effects and Toxic residues.
Worldwide many Scientists disapprove of it and have lots of concerns over
insufficient research, hence pronouncing it unsafe for human consumption. Bio
Safety is a predominant factor.
Stop all Field Trials. The Corporates like Monsanto use the public funded
universities to conduct field trials which are a great concern. Like The Bihar
Government has done now- banning all GM trials within the state, approved by
the MOEF, Tamil Nadu government also should stop field trials. Open air field
trials pose great risks of contamination and biosafety violations as has been seen
in numerous instances in the past
Integrate all Agriculture related departments and emphasize ecologically
sustainable practices.
Create a high level committee at the state level and nominate balanced, well
informed, open scientists and experts to promote ecologically sustainable farming.
Work towards Economic sustainability and Income security of Agricultural
families. Impoverished farmers affect the whole society at large. Frame policies
that are inclusive of all involved in Food production- large agrarian community
including small and marginal farmers, tenant farmers and agri labourers.
Thrust for Ecological sustainability is of utmost importance. With severe
decline of soil fertility and soil health, Water contamination due to over use
of pesticides and chemicals, air pollution etc the impact on ecology has been
drastic. Measures to revive them need strong sustainable agriculture methods.
Government to form bodies and policies to promote this.
Subsidy and incentives for ecological farming. Also come out with a per acre
compensation for organic farmers recognizing the ecological saving it brings
forth. Protect the Bio diversity and hence biological pest control, naturally.
Ensure access and control over productive resources. All resources like
seed, water, land and jungle to be treated as primary resources of agriculture
and hence control over them should be given to farming community and not
Ensure non-toxic, nutritive, healthy food for all consumers including the
producers i.e. farmers.
Seed conservation. Adopt policies that promote seed self-reliance amongst
farming communities. Encourage community seed conservation and save seed
sovereignty. Protect from onslaught of corporate/multinational monopolies.
Create and encourage Model Organic farms at each Block level
Promote Traditional practices, old techniques that far outweigh the newer ones
in cost and ecological impacts.
Create Special market for Natural and Organic produce with fair Price. Thrust on
decentralised infrastructure for storage/processing/value addition at farmers' level
Consolidated and just approach that result in a better pricing structure adhering to
fair price for the producer than other compulsions pushing the whole farming in
to crisis. Thus avoiding the looming agrarian crisis.
Encourage renewable energy at farms. Introduce schemes to support such
Strong rules to stop industrial pollution in to agricultural lands, neighborhoods
and water ways.

Download the Press Kit with the Photos here

The Hindu : News / National : Banned pesticides being used in India, admits Pawar

The Hindu : News / National : Banned pesticides being used in India, admits Pawar

Its a shame that the Agriculture Minister admits in the floor of the Parliament that the nation uses chemical pesticides banned elsewhere in the world without acknowledging why they are used and doesn't even talk of alternatives when queried as to why he is using it. He cites 4 'scientific' studies to justify his case a few months after the supposedly 'scientific' study on the GM was found to be of very poor scientific quality by his colleague and the rest of the nation.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Press Meet on the World Consumer Day, Chennai

Invitation to a Media Briefing by Experts & Activists on the issue of GM Foods, on the occasion of World Consumer Rights Day 15th March 2011

Experts and activists of Safe Food Alliance* - Prof Sultan Ismail, Dr G Sivaraman and Ananthoo would be briefing the media about the latest developments related to Genetically Modified (GM) foods like Bt Brinjal and GM Maize in India, on March 15th 2011, World Consumer Rights Day. As you know, the entry of GM foods would violate the citizen's right to safe food, right to know and right to informed choices with regard to something as basic as Food AND THEREFORE, AN URGENT AND APT ISSUE IN THE CONTEXT OF CONSUMER RIGHTS.

Members of the Safe Food Alliance would be releasing their Charter of Demands to the Government of Tamil Nadu and to all political parties on this occasion and would also send a "novel, fitting response" to the Prime Minister's recent endorsement of GM foods like Golden Rice.

We request you to kindly send a senior representative from your esteemed media house and also send a photo-journalist to cover the event. Thank you.

When?: 15th March 2011, at 4.00 pm

Where?: Main hall ,Press Club, Chepauk, Govt estate, Chennai -02.

What?: Media Briefing on GM Foods on the occasion of World Consumer Rights Day and release of charter of demands and a novel response to the PM on this issue

Safe Food Alliance (Selva- 9790951652 ; Ananthoo- 9444166779 )