The mela will showcase various safe food options — tasty organic foods and snacks to buy and eat, traditional rices and millet foods, fresh greens and mangoes, a stall on terrace and urban gardening, information on the ills and effects of pesticides in our food, the implications of Genetically Modified foods

A Safe Food Mela in Chennai is to be conducted at Semmozhi Poonga (campus of the former Woodlands Drive-in) on June 24, 2012, between 3 and 7 p.m. with participation from many organic outlets, organic farmer groups and other safe food enthusiasts. This mela will showcase various safe food options — tasty organic foods and snacks to buy and eat, traditional rices and millet foods, fresh greens and mangoes, a stall on terrace and urban gardening, information on the ills and effects of pesticides in our food, the implications of Genetically Modified foods (more information at http://indiaforsafefood.in)

Poison in food

Today, Indian agriculture uses hundreds of toxic chemicals which end up contaminating water, soil and food. Studies indicate that vegetables, fruits, staple cereals and pulses, meat, milk, eggs and poultry, in addition to drinking water and processed foods/beverages are contaminated with poisonous residues to various degrees. Studies show that pesticide exposure is correlated with serious health risks including cancers, endocrine disruption causing thyroid, gynaecological, and diabetes disorders, and so on. There is also much that is wrong with the regulatory system and approach related to chemical pesticides in the country.

Policy and alternatives

Governments have allowed toxins in farming and food even while there is ample evidence and experience on the ground to show that farming can indeed be taken up profitably without the use of such technologies. An example of this is the Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture project in Andhra Pradesh, supported by the State government’s rural development department that has managed to wean away lakhs of farmers from chemical pesticides successfully — farmers, in this approach called NPM (Non Pesticidal Management of crops), are finding agriculture more viable and profitable.

Safe food, sustainable farming

India for Safe Food seeks to create awareness amongst all citizens about the ill-effects of chemical pesticides and other toxins in food, how change is indeed possible and gets citizens to make the government responsible for ensuring access to safe food for all.

In this initiative, ASHA*, SFA* and many like-minded organisations are reaching out to citizens through educational institutions, residents’/citizens’ welfare associations, consumer organisations, political leaders, eminent citizens, celebrities and so on, for this ‘awareness-and-positive-action’ mobilisation.

Other than Chennai, melas, film-screenings and other events will be held in Delhi, Patna Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities over the next few weeks.

Ask your government

An important aspect of the campaign is a petition asking the Union Agriculture Minister to take steps towards government support for organic farming and distribution, ensuring wide access to safe foods, banning dangerous pesticides etc. A number of personalities — actors, musicians, artists, writers and intellectuals are expected to endorse the petition during the Mela. The petition can be signed online by anyone at http://indiaforsafefood.in/sendpetition.

For more information, please contact Ananthoo, Safe Food Alliance via email at ananthoo@hotmail.com.

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