Special Correspondent

`Authentic alternatives already exist in this country'

Oppose proposed labelling order saying it is an effort to promote GE foodProposal to amend laws in the name of bio-safety termed anti-farmer`Traditional farming methods natural, non-toxic'

HYDERABAD: South Against Genetic Engineering (SAGE), a 52-member group of food scientists, nutrition experts, agriculture scientists, farmer leaders and consumer activists, has questioned the need for allowing import of Genetically Engineered (GE) foods labelled or unlabelled.

In a declaration released here after a round table on "Should India be fed by GM (genetically modified) food?" organised by the group in Bangalore recently, they wondered about the necessity of such imports when the products could ensure neither food security nor nutritious food.

Opposing the proposed labelling order they said it was being pushed without any debate.

It was definitely an effort to promote GE and prop up the multinational corporations involved in GE.

The proposal to amend existing laws in the name of bio-safety was totally "anti- farmer, anti- people and anti-environment," they said.

"We are completely convinced of the advantages of our traditional foods over the articulated need for GE foods. The traditional cropping technology that is marked by bio-diverse farming systems contain all the human nutritional needs within it. These systems are natural, non-toxic and knowledge of their cultivation is located within the community," they said in the declaration.

Bio-diverse farming

P.V. Satheesh, convener of SAGE said food, nutrition and farm scientists emphasised at the meeting that the Government's focus should be on reclaiming and popularising less familiar, uncultivated and under-utilised foods, which were integral to bio-diverse farming.

On the other hand, farmer leaders made it clear that they did not want any kind of labelling.

"We totally reject GE food and technology since we all know that authentic alternatives already exist in this country including organic and traditional systems of food production."