Today’s mail today has two important stories on Genetic Foods

This morning’s newspaper ‘Mail Today’ reassures us that its not only we who cry foul over GM. I have been noticing a trend that every then & now GM is in news for Good or Bad. Just to make a point, today’s mail today has two stories on Genetic Foods. While the first story is played in very bold font, talks about even the school children discussing GM.

Springdales best in GM crops contest

THE TWO Springdales schools took diametrically opposite stands on the contentious issue of genetically modified ( GM) crops and walked away with the top two places in a national inter- school multimedia competition hosted by the Vasant Valley School on Friday.

The students of Springdales, Dhaula Kuan, visited the villages of Madhya Pradesh and interacted with farmers who have planted Bt- cotton in their fields. Explaining how India took its first steps into the world of GM in March 2002 by approving three Bt- cotton hybrids for commercial cultivation, the presentation by Karan Kareer, Rajat Sindhu, Raabiya Marici and Sahil Lamba traced the downward spiral that the farmers who opted for these new crops have had to experience.

Bt- cotton was developed by MAHYCO ( Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company Ltd) in collaboration with the American multinational, Monsanto, supposedly to offer protection against all the major species of Indian bollworms.

But the result, said the Springdales quartet, was not what the optimists had envisioned and heir interviews with the Madhya Pradesh farmers proved just that.

Springdales, Pusa Road, had a more positive take on the subject.

To understand the issue, the students went to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute ( IARI) across the road and interacted with the scientists there. Using the guidelines based on the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation ( FAO) report, which talks about how food production needs to be boosted by 70 per cent to feed a world population of 9.1 billion by 2050, the Pusa Road team concluded that GM crops would lead to a manifold increase in productivity.

The Vasant Valley team, which tapped material from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology ( ICGEB) and the internet, took a more philosophical stand, which got them a shared third position with Welham Girls, Dehra Dun. “ Science is part of the answer and the problem,” said Karan Anand, a Vasant Valley team member.

The team’s advice to the supporters and critics of GM crops was not to decelerate the pace of research.

“ Allow objective research to determine the future of GM crops in the country,” they said.

The Welham Girls team, which looked excited to be in Delhi, took an approach that was in parts dramatic and non- committal.

They asked two relevant questions: “ For whom is GM beneficial?” and “ Will it help solve the food problem?” Their final question sounded more like a warning: “ Is it OK to serve poison on a platter?” This was the annual competition’s ninth year and it attracted 21 schools, including Doon School and Welham Girls, Mayo College and Mayo College Girls’ School from Ajmer, and Delhi Public School, R. K. Puram. Ten of these schools qualified for the final round of presentations, which was adjudged by a panel comprising M AIL T ODAY ’s awardwinning science editor, Dinesh C. Sharma; Om Deshmukh, research scientist at the IBM India Research Lab; and Dharmendra Singh Gangwar, chief vigilance officer, STC. Sonya Bahri, Vasant Valley’s technology department head, said, “ This aim of this annual contest is to use the power of technology to spread awareness about social issues, heighten sensitivity and enhance the critical thought processes in the minds of schoolchildren.” The palpable excitement at the competition proved Bahri right.

The other story also displayed in bold font and given a beautiful treatment informs how former cricketer Manoj Prabhakar is set to Bat for organic farming. Thanks to efforts of all the members of GM Free India group. Hard work pays, indeed.

Prabhakar all set to bat for organic farming

MANOJ Prabhakar has worn many hats, both on and off the field. He has been a combative, never- say- die all- rounder, a coach, and a businessman. And now the mercurial former India Test star proudly announces that he is going to become a “ farmer”. Yes, the man who already runs a successful cosmetic company has now decided to grow organic food.

“ I am now going to be a farmer.

I am going buy 50- 60 acres of land in Udham Singh Nagar district in Uttrakhand and grow a variety of foods on this land.” Prabhakar disclosed this in an interview to M AIL T ODAY . “ My main purpose by purchasing this land is to grow all kinds of food and vegetables. We have been eating all kinds of injected vegetables that are harmful. We should avoid them and instead eat organic foods.” Asked what made him turn to farming, Prabhakar says that when he used to tour different countries with the Indian team, everywhere he saw natural products.

“ Wherever I used to go — England or Australia etc — I came across natural products.

That’s what struck me the most,” he recalls.

Prabhakar already has a cosmetics- manufacturing factory on a one- acre plot in Naukuchiatal, about 26 kms from Haldwani in Uttrakhand. He manages the business from his Delhi office, but frequently visits the factory about 270 kms from Delhi.

His brush with cosmetics began after he got married to Sandhya, who used to run a beauty parlour. Soon he got so attracted that he launched his own company, Naturence, while still playing for India ( 1984- 1996). The company has since expanded and added Naturence Research Labs ( P) Ltd. to the stable. “ I have got professionals working for me now,” he points out proudly.

Cricket, nevertheless, remains Prabhakar’s first love. “ I never dreamt that I would become a businessman one day. Even today, when I go to sleep I tell my wife [ actress Farheen] that I [ only] visualise a cricket field and players getting rewards for their performances and other aspects connected to the game,” he insists.

The 47- year- old former Delhi captain says he can’t disconnect himself from cricket, irrespective of his involvement in business, and has some big plans. “ I want to open a residential cricket academy on the land I am going to purchase,” he revealed. “ But it will not happen in the next two or three years; it is my long- term plan.” Prabhakar’s immediate target is to become a successful coach — first of Delhi and then the Indian team — and produce a few aggressive and match- winning players like himself. “ I am not getting my way. I am unable a get place to start an academy where I can get 100 per cent results,” he laments.

“ I looked for a place near my residence in South Delhi, but couldn’t get one. I was even ready to pump in money to start the venture. I also attempted to tie- up with a college in South Delhi, but parking space and a few other issues came in the way,” he said, looking frustrated.

Prabhakar insists that he would make a successful coach even without a formal coaching diploma. “ It’s all practical, and practical lessons can fail all theories,” he quips. “ Mujhe heera tarashna aat hai ( I know how to polish a diamond).” He insists that since he had performed different tasks for the Indian team — from facing the first ball of a match to bowling the first ball — he doesn’t need a coaching certificate. “ I have gone through all kinds of emotions, of a batsman and a bowler, so I am well equipped to coach and can produce players who can represent India successfully,” he says confidently.

Prabhakar’s only son from Sandhya, Rohan, now 23, was once a cricket crazy kid, but he now assists his father at the cosmetics factory. From Farheen, he has sons Rahil ( 13) and Manvansh ( 6). Prabhakar informs that Rahil is a budding cricketer.

Will he emulate his father?


2 Responses to “Today’s mail today has two important stories on Genetic Foods”

  1. 1 Daine Layva February 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Good reason. I like to read it Martha

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