Urban Leaves India: February 2013

Wednesday 6 February 2013

National Safe Food Day 9th Feb

Why celebrate National Safe Food day?

When we started the Urban Leaves project Preeti brought the knowledge and passion, Jyoti the determination, Uday Acharya spread peace and I introduced the politics! My politics was and is food!  While we spent week after week making Amrut Mitti, I kept plugging away about GM food and the impending arrival of Bt brinjal on our plates.  This was in 2009, by then all of us had watched ‘Poison on the Platter’, the documentary film by Ajay Kanchan, narrated by Mahesh Bhatt,  and were convinced that we had to stop Bt brinjal. We screened Poison on the Platter, we held talks on GM crops, during one of which Vasant Bhau a veteran organic farmer from Warud, Maharashtra, spoke passionately to Mumbaites about the Bt cotton crisis, shocking many in the audience, who thought that it was a distant problem, not connected to them.

As our piles of Amrut Mitti grew so did the Bt brinjal campaign around the country. Then in October 2009, GEAC recommended Bt brinjal for commercialisation and the Minister for Environment & Forests announced that he will seek feedback and hold public consultations before taking a decision on Bt brinjal. After  a series of public consultations (which many of us from Mumbai went to Ahmedabad and Nagpur to attend) the Minister on February 9, 2010 declared a moratorium on Bt brinjal citing numerous concerns expressed by scientists, state governments and the public.

The moratorium is upheld even today, three years later, however the biotech industry is leaving no stone unturned to get Bt brinjal and other GM crops in the pipeline approved. Therefore, we can’t say the battle for brinjal is over, we have to be watchful and keep ourselves abreast and aware. Since, 2011, February 9th is being celebrated every year as National Safe Food Day to remind every one of us to be ever vigilant about our food sovereignty!

Urban farmers and Safe food!
Urban food farmers and safe food are inextricably connected, the raison d’ĂȘtre of urban food farming is to provide local, healthy, safe food!  The connection is amply  evident in Urban Leaves’ work and celebrations. We grow seasonal and local vegetables and fruits.  We serve healthy vegan food during our events, we celebrate world kitchen garden day with vegetables grown in our patches and pots, and we promote healthy eating along with growing food and our motto is “reap what you sow, eat what you grow”.

Variety of Brinjals grown in our community garden at MNP

Our Sunday harvest

So, this year on February 9th, I invite all urban gardeners and all of us who eat food (because it concerns every one of us) to join hands to keep our food safe from GMOs and toxins. Check out events at http://nationalsafefoodday2013.blogspot.com.  There are events in Mumbai,  please join!  If you are unable to join the events, design your own events in the community, in the neighbourhood or start you own safe food tradition at home and blog about it. Make this a joyous occasion!

In addition to ensuring safe food through growing it, urban food farmers should also take on the responsibility of saving seed. Conserving and multiplying open pollinated traditional seeds is one way that urban farmers can work towards seed sovereignty. Here is the link to a lovely leaflet from  Annadana on how to save seeds of traditional varieties of brinjal!  

Happy Safe Food Day! I hope many urban farmers will save brinjal seeds (and that of other vegetables) as our contribution to seed sovereignty and food safety!

For more information:

¾     Check: www.indiagminfo.org
Many of you would already have watched , also send it to friends and family:
Poison on the Platter here it is in Hindi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Qk9leT5kzY  &
World According to Monsanto, in English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6_DbVdVo-k

Devi Lakshmikutty 

For team
urban Leaves
Vidya Varidhi Trust