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Blocking a new GM Trojan horse in India

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Illustration from the publication ‘Seed Stories’, La Via Campesina

On 15 November 2021, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a draft regulation called the Food Safety and Standards (Genetically Modified or Engineered Foods) Regulations, 2021.

This draft regulation, through the medium of a regulatory agency (the FSSAI) is the latest attempt by the agricultural biotechnology multinationals and their Indian subsidiaries and partners to trick Indians into consuming foods made from genetically modified or genetically engineered crops. Altogether the opposite of protecting the citizen, the draft regulation of the FSSAI is a Trojan horse which, the industry has built and deployed to pave the way for the easier entry of GM foods into India.

The first section of my response to the FSSAI follows, and the full document is available as a file at the end of this post.

Section 1, intent of the regulations

At the outset, I completely reject modern biotechnology in India’s farming and food. There is no case now, and there never has been a case, for its inclusion, based both on sound science and on public interest. Genetically modified/edited seed and crop of any kind is a threat to the health of Indian citizens. It is a threat to the environment and to the existing agricultural biodiversity of India. It is a threat to the socio-cultural traditions that our agriculture and food rests upon. The Union Government of India and every state and union territory government must prohibit genetically modified/edited seed and crop. There can be no compromise on this matter.

What then is this draft legislation brought for? Nowhere in the text of the draft legislation do I find any reference to any work carried out by the FSSAI or commissioned by it from independent authorities, nor any reference to such work carried out by either the Ministry of Agriculture or the Ministry of Environment – as both these are subject areas associated with the subject of this draft legislation – that assesses the need for such products in India.

In the same way, nowhere in the text of the draft legislation do I find evidence of the precautionary principle applied. The precautionary principle is central to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which India has ratified. Thus the precautionary principle is an obligation, hence a draft legislation about genetically modified or engineered foods must explicitly state that such foods manufactured from, and such foods that contain ingredients derived from (whether in small part or larger part) genetically modified/edited seed and crop will under no circumstances be allowed into India, whether by import of finished goods, or by manufacture (food processing) based on such ingredients or by cultivation within India.

There is a voluminous international record of more than 25 years which shows conclusively that GM foods carry with them biosafety risks during production and health risks during consumption. No Indian citizen should be presented such foods, in whatever form, for consumption. Vulnerable sections of the public such as infants, children, pregnant and lactating mothers, the elderly and people with existing morbid conditions should more particularly be protected from such foods.

I find there is no recognition whatsoever – let alone the provision to act upon such recognition – of these first principles in the text of the draft legislation.

Illustration from the publication ‘Seed Stories’, La Via Campesina

Where something can cause serious irreversible harm, it is right and proper for scientists to demand evidence demonstrating that GM is safe beyond reasonable doubt. This is also an approach that is contained by the precautionary principle (for scientists and for the public, it is just common sense). Scientific evidence is no different from ordinary evidence, and should be understood and judged in the same way. Evidence from different sources and of different kinds has to be weighed and combined to guide policy decisions and actions. That’s good science as well as good sense.

Genetic modification/ engineering/ editing involves recombining, that is, joining together in new combinations, DNA from different sources, and inserting them into the genomes of organisms to make ‘genetically modified organisms’. GMOs are unnatural, not just because they have been produced in the laboratory, but because many of them can only be made in the laboratory, quite unlike what nature has produced in the course of millions of years of adaptation and change. Thus, it is possible to introduce new genes and gene products, many from bacteria, viruses and other species, or even genes made entirely in the laboratory, into crops, including food crops. We have never eaten these new genes and gene products, nor have they ever even been part of our food chain.

The artificial constructs are introduced into cells by invasive methods that result in random integration into the genome, giving rise to unpredictable, random effects, including gross abnormalities in both animals and plants, unexpected toxins and allergens in food crops, and unknown effects on humans and animals. This problem is compounded by the overwhelming instability of transgenic lines, which makes risk assessment virtually impossible.

None of these risks are acknowledged by the draft legislation which therefore fails completely to establish why in the first place the provisions and mechanisms it contains are needed or are suitable for India. It also fails as a protective legislation by not prohibiting foods based on or derived from genetically modified/edited seed and crop.

You can find a pdf file of the full document here, or an open document format text file here.

Written by makanaka

January 12, 2022 at 21:13

Chargesheet against a junta

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Since March 2020, beginning with the imposition of the “national lock down” in India, a host of measures have been ordered by the state – central government, state and union territory governments, and municipal corporations – which have been presented as means to control the coronavirus “epidemic”.

These measures are non-pharmacological and non-medical measures, that is, they are presented as controlling the transmission and spread of any disease outbreak or epidemic by halting, restricting, controlling or limiting the routine movement of citizens through the course of their day and week for social, commercial, leisure and faith-related activities.

I have opposed and continue to oppose and reject “lock down” and its host of associated restrictions as a means to address and control a disease outbreak/epidemic. Completely opposite to what their alleged aims are, all these measures cause harm to society and individuals. Moreover, these measures have no place – nor did they ever have any place, at any time during the modern medical history of India as has been recorded from the late 19th century – in elementary epidemiology.

The “national lock down” that was imposed from March to June 2020, and the many state “lock downs” that followed, including those imposed during the alleged “second wave” of March 2021 onwards, together constitute the most serious assault on citizens’ freedoms, civil liberties, inalienable rights, religious and faith-related customs, and livelihoods that post-Independence India has experienced. Not even during the notorious Emergency period (1975-77) were there such draconian measures.

These draconian measures, with no basis in public health whatsoever, gave rise to associated measures such as night curfews, quarantine centres, isolation centres, containment zones, quarantine periods and the like which all were alleged to control the transmission and spread of coronavirus. None of these measures, not a single one, was supported by the epidemiological evidence in India, of which there is a very extensive record.

Worse, not once was any such measure, whether introduced and enforced nationally, in a state or in a city/town/district, subject to review and assessment by any members of the large pool of experienced medical practitioners in India who have worked on public health. Instead, central and state governments, municipal corporations and district administrations either created as bodies to endorse these measure “expert groups” and “expert committees” whose members were chosen and selected opaquely, or issued administrative “orders’ to impose such measures which bore no reference whatsoever to any objective assessments of the situation on the ground.

The cumulative impact of such measures has been devastating to the public at large and the ordinary citizen. This impact is far greater, and has much more long-lasting consequences, than would have been the case had any disease outbreak/epidemic in India run its natural course. I say this unreservedly because never in the Indian public health record have healthy citizens been confined – under risk of penalty – and then subjected to continued and acute psychological pressures.

These pressures took the form, early during the “national lock down”, as compliance demanded by the state at the point of penalties and fines, and also through physical assault by the police, for not wearing face masks and coverings, or for missing curfew deadlines.

During 2021, these pressures have taken the form, especially since early February 2021, of submitting to the illegal and unconstitutional “vaccination drive” (or “tika utsav“, which translates as ‘vaccination festival’, a hideous travesty of public health) that was commenced by the central government, and which quickly thereafter was attempted to be enforced by making vaccination against coronavirus the condition against which employment as a government or public sector employee could continue, against which essential services such as food rations from fair price shops could be disbursed, and against which transport services such as metropolitan commuter trains and buses could be boarded. As I state towards the close of this chargesheet, these wholly authoritarian measures have ignored all democratic scrutiny and oversight.

The wage labour and informal sectors of the Indian economy, which have depended on and continue to depend on daily or weekly wages, were especially from late March until July 2020 reduced to penury and starvation by these draconian measures that had nothing whatsoever to do with public health.

From July 2020 when these measures began to be relaxed in different regions and states, earning daily and weekly wages and monthly salaries once again became possible as commercial and business activity resumed. But by then, three to four months of living off debt for a large number of households proved to be a crushing burden. It has been estimated that between 20% and 25% of all households in India were made poorer, and pushed below the true poverty line, directly because of the “lock down” and associated restrictions.

Whether during the “national lock down” or during the many state-level lock downs and movement restrictions during the 2020-21 period, daily and casual wage labour lost income. Surveys have shown that 6 out of 10 domestic workers did not get paid at all during lock downs, that 9 out of 10 casual labourers (such as those who labour at construction sites) did not get paid. Their capacities to save, already small, were ruined for 20 months and counting, and the great majority of such households have been pushed into debt.

The floor minimum wage in India – which was set at some 18,000 rupees a month about three years ago – has proven during 2020-21 to be wholly inadequate to provide for a family given the steep rise in food and fuel prices (about half the cost of the LPG cooking gas cylinder has been added during only the last 12 months). Even until the start of 2020, the average Indian household paid some 60 out of every 100 rupees of its medical expenses out of pocket. The “epidemic”-related costs of tests and access to basic medical care have only pushed up this already very high out-of-pocket expenditure. I have no doubt that all these factors have contributed to a rate of household indebtedness that has not been seen for two generations.

Other than during war time, which after 1945 are periods that Indians have experienced for short spells (such as in 1971), there has never been such a long period of concentrated deprivation. The cumulative effect of the “national lock down”, the state lock downs that followed, the restrictions placed by municipal corporations and district administrations have caused directly the sharp reversal of all the average standard-of-living and public health gains that have slowly and painstakingly been secured over the previous 70 years.

Not once since March 2020 until now, December 2021, has the central government or state government or municipal corporations or district administrations when imposing “lock down” and associated restrictions, acknowledged the specific needs of large sections of the population: those up to 18 years old (about 240 million male and 220 million female, total about 460 million), the population above 60 years old (about 143 million), the labour force (about 470 million).

The restrictions of all kinds taken together have affected India’s large population of children, adolescents and teenagers severely. Their schools and colleges were shuttered for over a year (and continue to be in some places, while where normal classes resumed, they are limited in frequency and attendance). Children, adolescents and teenagers being snatched away by the tens of millions from socialising settings, where they meet and play and speak to those of their own age group, and also from social and family settings, has caused both psychological and physiological harm to a degree that is still, 20 months after the onset of the alleged “epidemic”, neither recognised by the government authorities nor remedied in any way.

This impact comes on top of the already very alarming situation that was recorded by the central government in 2017 which showed that more than 840,000 children die before completing the first year of their lives. This number is more than that recorded by any other country in the world. India’s infant mortality rate was still 34 per 1,000 live births in 2016, but several states (such as Assam and Odisha with 44 per 1,000, Chhattisgarh with 39 per 1,000, Madhya Pradesh with 47 per 1,000) are very much above the national infant mortality rate.

I stand appalled that for 20 months, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the health departments of all states and union territories have refused to acknowledge or consider the effects of their “lock down” and associated restrictions on so fundamental an indicator as the infant mortality rate.

Moreover, the shuttering of schools all over the country also stopped the provision of the mid-day meals. For pre-primary, primary and upper primary school students from 2001 – and for all children in government and government-aided schools until the age of 14 as per the 2013 National Food Security Act – the mid-day meal programme provides fresh cooked food to 120 million children in over 1.26 million schools (and centres under the Education Guarantee Scheme).

With the schools shuttered the meals to children stopped – directly contravening the provisions of the 2013 Act – depriving them of one of their fresh cooked meals a day. No central or state government authorities have recognised or remedied this effect of the “lock down” and associated restrictions in a country that has over a third of the world’s stunted (chronically malnourished) children.

Ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, diarrhoeal diseases, neo-natal disorders, lower respiratory tract infections, tuberculosis, diabetes and cirrhosis were the leading cause of deaths in India in 2019. Yet throughout the period March 2020 until the present (December 2021) health authorities in central and state governments, and in municipal corporations, refused to ascertain, prior to considering any restrictive public health measure such as ‘lock down’, what the effects of such restriction, the curbing of personal mobility (in all situations including medical consultations and routine treatments), and the health effects of reduced income or no income at all were likely to be.

This omission to be one of the gravest committed by central, state and city administrations, an omission whose scale and true impact will not be known as the authorities have refused to monitor it. In India in 2015, as per an assessment by the WHO, nearly 5.8 million people died because of non-communicable diseases such as these. Their causes include physical inactivity, unhealthy food (diets low in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, but high in salt and fats), daily exposure to air pollution (the 2016 Global Burden of Disease report showed that 920,000 premature deaths occurred because of household air pollution and 590,000 premature deaths because of ambient air pollution), tobacco use (smoking, smokeless tobacco), and the harmful use of alcohol. The lock down and associated restrictions, for months on end, strengthened these risk factors. It is inconceivable that the administrative and health authorities were unaware of the increased risks their orders directly caused.

During the period March 2020 until the present (December 2021), central and state governments, municipal corporations and district administrations alike have grossly and continuously abused emergency powers. Their applications of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 together with the Disaster Management Act 2005 and the imposition of sections of the Indian Penal Code (such as Section 144) has in every single instance been abuse of power under the guise of addressing an epidemic.

The necessary democratic safeguards that accompany all emergency powers – they must be invoked only through legislative process, their use must be proportionate, their application must be specific, they must be shown to be necessary, their application must be non-discriminatory, their implementation must not infringe rights and freedoms recognised by the Constitution, they must observe time limits, they must be subject to judicial correction – have in every instance been done away with.

The attempts being made by the state and its partners to accelerate the rate of vaccination rests entirely on the stripping away of judicial and legislative checks and balances, and the blocking of citizens’ oversight. What is alarming is the readiness of the state and its agencies to ignore entirely the directions given in Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, and likewise the obligations upon the Republic of India as a signatory to international conventions such as the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights 2005 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966.

What the state refuses to abide by however is what the citizens of India will defend.

Written by makanaka

December 8, 2021 at 11:51

The hollowing out of India

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This is not about an ‘epidemic’. And it is not about a virus.

The awful series of events that have taken place since I wrote ‘India and the illiteracy of fear’ has occupied many people in India at least part time if not full time, especially if they are in one or the other of our major metros and especially Delhi-NCR and Mumbai (and more recently Bangalore).

For those new to this subject, here are the reasons that I have since early May 2020 called it a stage-managed ‘epidemic’, with its main props being face masks and the PCR ‘test’. (1) Before December 2019 never for any disease outbreak or epidemic or pandemic were the healthy immobilised and quarantined. (2) ‘Lock down’ was never and is not a public health measure, nor are any of the associated restrictions. (3) The face mask/covering is never to be used by anyone other than patients or hospital workers in a hospital/institutional care setting. (4) The PCR is a laboratory process and was never to be used as a diagnostic. PCR can neither find a virus nor can it measure infectiousness. Its ‘positive’ has no clinical meaning. (5) ‘Social distancing’ because of ‘asymptomatic transmission’ was and is false as a public health measure. (6) No medical research centre anywhere in the world has been able to prove that any virus, let alone Sars-CoV-2, survives our outdoors climatic conditions of +35C, +65% humidity, direct sunlight and moving air laden with organic and other particulate matter.

Some points to consider:

What happened in January and February 2020? There were less than 500 so-called “confirmed cases” worldwide outside China and most of these were said to be in South Korea and Italy. On 30 January 2020 the WHO declared a worldwide public health emergency. Yet the campaign to develop vaccines was initiated prior to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of worldwide public health emergency and it was first announced at the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos (21-24 January).

The WHO has been corrupt throughout the tenure of the predecessor of Tedros – Margaret Chan (who served two terms). The WHO brought in through various channels the interests of the global pharma MNCs, of the biggest philanthropic foundations and international financial institutions. Under Tedros (backed by PR China), this control increased. One of these foundations is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which at the 21-24 January 2020 Davos meeting announced with the World Economic Forum the vaccines campaign. On 24 February 2020 a new company called Moderna announced that its experimental mRNA vaccine was ready for human testing. On 28 February 2020 the WHO vaccination campaign was announced by Tedros who said that more than 20 vaccines were being developed globally.

The Government of India did not demand to know from WHO on what basis a worldwide public health emergency had been declared, and did not demand to know how experimental vaccines had already been prepared for a virus that wsa still called “novel”. Instead, three weeks later India’s national ‘lock down’ was imposed.

Concerning the two main props of the ‘epidemic’:

A massive expert review was published on 20 April 2021 assessing reports on 65 studies showing the medical harms of face masks. The key findings: the concentration of oxygen in the air under the masks was significantly lower (minus 12.4 in volume %) compared to oxygen in a room. At the same time, the health-critical value of carbon dioxide concentration in the air under the masks increased by a factor of 30 (!!) compared to normal room air was measure. The study said that this caused “a statistically significant increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) blood content in mask wearers”. In addition to the increase in the wearer’s blood carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, another consequence of masks that has been proven is a significant drop in blood oxygen saturation. This has the effect of an accompanying increase in heart rate as well as an increase in respiratory rate have been proven.

On the PCR test, the Public Health Agency of Sweden in April 2021 said: The PCR technology used in tests to detect viruses cannot distinguish between viruses capable of infecting cells and viruses that have been rendered harmless by the immune system, and therefore these tests cannot be used to determine whether someone is infectious or not. RNA from viruses can often be detected for weeks (sometimes months) after infection but does not mean that a person is still infectious. The recommended criteria for assessing freedom from infection are therefore based on stable clinical improvement with freedom from fever for at least two days and at least seven days since the onset of symptoms. For those with more pronounced symptoms, at least 14 days since onset of illness and for the sickest, individual assessment by the treating physician.

Neither the Indian central government nor state governments have reviewed or reconsidered any of their ‘epidemic’ measures for what they have done, since March 2020, and what they continue to do to the largest section of the population, that is children and teenagers.

How large is this section? The estimates (UN Population division) for 2020 are: age 0-4 years, 116 million; age 5-9 years, 117 million; age 10-14 years, 126 million, age 15-18 years, 126 million. The 18 and under population is about 485 million. They have been kept out of school and college for 13 months, in cities they have been kept largely away from their friends and peers for 13 months, in cities they have been kept away from extended family for 13 months, they have not pursued sports nor outdoor play, no hobbies and no cultural activities, they have been “taught” and “given lessons” through computer screens, and for those in cities and towns, have been confined in apartments often together with parents who are “working from home”. Their psychological condition is unknown. The effects of the non-stop, around the clock barrage of fear-mongering by the television channels on their young psyches is unknown and unremarked. This is a section nearly equivalent to the entire population of the European Union. They have been seriously mentally scarred for 13 months, with cognitive and learning abilities impaired in way that are neither inquired into nor understood.

Teachers and education authorities have been caught up in the hysteria of fear promoted around covid19 and many have lost all sense of proportion. Where schools were opened, the wearing of face masks by children and teenagers was made mandatory. This is completelty false and is an abomination. Children, teenagers and the youth have a susceptibility to Sars-CoV-2 that is so negligible as to be nearly statistically zero. No school or college can adopt such flawed government or local authority “guidance” on face coverings without failing properly to consider the impact on the children and staff (which they are obliged to do).

Where did the so-called “second wave” come from, especially when until January 2021 the central government was advertising that India’s recovery rate was >96%?

India’s urban population is generally more unhealthy thaan its rural population. Those who live in the major metros are generally more unhealthy than thosw who live in smaller towns. In regions like Delhi-NCR and a large part of the urbanised middle Gangetic belt, the quality of air is very poor. The Delhi-NCR region has had the worst air quality in the world (!) for the last three years running (!). The lungs and respiratory tracts of these urban residents is anyway weak because of cumulative exposure to airborne pollutants, year after year. Then they have been ‘locked down’ and denied what small exercise they could normally have. They have been ordered to cover their nose and mouth when outside, in temperatures of more than 40C or humidity of more than 80% (in Mumbai and Chennai). They have been ordered to cover their nose and mouth when it rains and wear wet cloth right next to their nasal passage. Damp cloth breeds bacteria which travel directly into the upper respiratory tract. A number of the 18 symptoms of covid19 are common to India’s existing respiratory diseases. Not a single agency of the central government and no state government has till date studied the effects of mask wearing on the health condition of an average urban resident.

These are the people who have been injected with vaccines under the “vaccination drive” or the macabrely named “tika utsav“. They have not been told what effect these injected substances will have on their existing ailments, they have signed no free, prior and well informed consent document to say they have been properly explained the risks and consequences, general and specific, of the injections and agree to be injected. They have not been informed about a process of lodging complaints about possible post-injection side effects nor about a process of compensation should they suffer a lasting debilitating effect, and they have not been informed about either a change in the status of their health insured lives nor compensation for serious vaccine-related injury or death.

These vaccination injections have immediately – because that is the intention of the western medical rationale for vaccine – lowered their natural immunity. Those who are healthier and fitter have had few or no effects. Others have taken ill, some seriously ill. The effect of a rapidly lowered natural immunity on those who are already unhealthy in cities, and whose respiratory tracts are already weakened, becomes clear. When they seek institutional medical help, the allopathic doctors, to allay fever, chills, cough, tiredness and shortness of breath are prescribed an armada of antiviral and antibiotic drugs. Some of these substances that can have fatal side effects even when taken alone. I know of several people who become even more ill with 500mg a day of such drugs but have been prescribed more than 4,000mg a day! Those who do not survive are counted statistically as “covid19 death” attributed to Sars-CoV-2 but not attributed to overwhelming reactions to toxic drugs, that is, iatrogenic deaths (whcih for years has been one of the largest causes fo death in USA).

Whereas in 2020 it was said by government propaganda and the media that “covid19 deaths” are “any death within 28 days of a ‘positive’ PCR test result”, in 2021 deaths one or more days after vaccine injections are counted as “with pre-existing conditions”.

The central and state governments, the PMO, the Ministry of Health, the Home Ministry, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ministry of Science and Technology, have all repeated over and over again that vaccination is the only exit from the ‘epidemic’. India’s traditional medicinal systems – ayurveda, yoga, unani tibb, siddha, homoeopathy, sowa-rigpa, naturopathy and tribal and indigenous medicinal practices – have been all but outlawed. The wholly illegal “vaccination drive” of the government and supported by the BJP and all political parties (whether opposition or allies) is said to be “protective”.

This justification is false and deceiving. It is very well known in international medicinal science circles that on 1 December 2016, a verdict was given by the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court in Germany and upheld by the German Federal Court of Justice. This is called the measles virus trial verdict. It said that the first publication about the measles virus, the publication of the Nobel Prize winner, John Franklin Enders and his colleagues in 1954, does not constitute proof of the alleged existence of the suspected “measles virus”.

What makes this so important is that this publication is the sole and exclusive basis of all other approximately 30,000 “scientific” publications on the subject of “measles virus”, “infection” of measles and “protective vaccination” against measles. All statements thereafter on the “measles virus”, the transmissibility of measles and measles vaccination are based exclusively and only on this publication. Since the 2016 verdict it is now case law that this 1954 publication does not contain any evidence for the alleged existence of the assumed measles virus, hence it is clear that all 30,000 specialist publications on these topics are without foundation.

This is exactly the situation with the so-called simulated ‘modelling’ of the likely spread and toll of the ‘pandemic’ that was done by Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College, London, and Christian Drosten of Berlin Charité – the WHO backed both, and the government of India slavishly adopted the fake projections of these ‘models’.

Before December 2019, “lock down” did not exist in the world’s recorded practice and history of public health for respiratory and other disease outbreaks and epidemics. “Lock down” was invented by the Chinese Communist Party and propagated around the world by the WHO and its partners and sponsors, including its primary funders the Gates Foundation and GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, which is made up of the pharma and medical technology MNCs). All associated measures – mass testing, social distancing, contact tracing, health surveillance, and vaccination – for the ‘epidemic’ have come from the same source, the CCP.

India’s so-called ‘right wing’ media and groups – all supporters of the BJP – were very active in 2020 to call Sars-CoV-2 the “Wuhan virus” or the “China virus”. None called ‘lock down’ the CCP ‘lock down’ and none has till date. India’s record of public health has no instance of such a measure, ever, for any disease outbreak. The BJP government implemented, from 25 March 2020, a Chinese communist measure of social control. There has been not a single ruling party or opposition party Member of Parliament who asked why, neither during the September 2020 Lok Sabha session nor the February 2021 session. MPs asked about the availability of vaccines and medicines, but not about a communist measure that has been used at least once following the national ‘lock down’, and in several places more than once, by state governments.

It is the CPIM that is demanding “vaccination for all”. It is the same with the Democrat Party of the USA and its enormous left-liberal network of foundations, media and celebrities. It is the INC that is doing the same. It is the TV channels and newspapers that belong to the major media houses that are doing the same. And it is the BJP that is using all the muscle of the state to show that its implementation of a totalitarian agenda is better than what even China has done.

See for example: “India is the fastest country in the world to administer 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. India achieved the feat in 85 days whereas USA took 89 days and China reached the milestone in 102 days. The Prime Minister Office tweeted: ‘Strengthening the efforts to ensure a healthy and COVID-19 free India’.”
And: ” ‘Tika Utsav’ is beginning of second major war against Corona: PM
Make targets at personal, social and administration level for ‘Tika Utsav’ and make effort to achieve them: PM”

Why the forcing through punitive measures of not breathing naturally (masks) and denying the sun (stay indoors)?
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2, 3) says: “As long as the vayu (prana) remains in the body there is life, Death occurs when the vayu leaves the body, therefore retain the vayu
The face mask/covering will not let you retain the vayu.

‘Prana and Pranayama’, by the Bihar School of Yoga, 2009, says:
“Inside a closed room in a modern city there may be less than 50 negative ions per square foot and in the mountains there are about 5,000. It is now an established scientific fact that depletion of negative ions leads to discomfort, enervation, lassitude and some degree of mental and physical inefficiency. Negative ions are therapeutic partly because they kill germs. In human beings, they act on the capacity to absorb oxygen, accelerating the blood’s delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues. Negative ions are not prana, but when one inhales them the level of prana in the body increases. In this context it is interesting that negative ions work only so long as they are being inhaled. It has also been observed that the ability to assimilate negative ions goes up during yogic practices such as pranayama.”

Recall the 12 mantras that accompany the 12 positions taken during suryanamaskar:
Om mitraya namaha, Om ravaye namaha, Om suryaya namaha, Om bhanave namaha, Om khagaya namaha, Om pushne namaha, Om hiranya garbhaya namaha, Om marichaye namaha, Om adityaya namaha, Om savitre namaha, Om arkaya namaha, Om bhaskaraya namaha
These are the life-giving and life-affirming bhutas. We cannot be separate from them. India and Indians cannot be ruled by a monstrous totalitarian-communist system such as we have seen being formed in India since 24 March 2020.

Written by makanaka

May 11, 2021 at 20:04

30 Jahre nach dem Tag des Mauerfalls, eine neue Friedensrevolution in Berlin

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Berlin corona-protest

Tens of thousands of people from all over Europe and many more from within Germany began reaching Berlin, the capital city, over the last two days to take part in today’s gigantic expression of peaceful protest against the social, economic, personal and cultural restrictions imposed by the German government in the name of public health.

Today’s massive march in Berlin is taking place after a very tense week, with the Berlin Administrative Court ruling just over a day earlier that today’s ‘Assembly for Freedom’ protest could take place without attracting a ban on any grounds. The Court argued that the government’s stated rationale for the ban – an imminent threat to public health and safety – was baseless.

Here is a selection of the coverage from outlets that I follow regularly (Deutsch -> English).

Corona-Protest: Erst verleumdet, dann verboten – Die Berliner Versammlungsbehörde hat für das Wochenende geplante Demonstrationen von Kritikern der Corona-Politik verboten, wie Medien berichten. Diese Entscheidung ist aus mehreren Gründen falsch: Die Begründung erweckt den Eindruck, als sollten mit dem mutmaßlich vorgeschobenen Argument des Infektionsschutzes politische Äußerungen unterdrückt werden. Sie erweckt den Eindruck, als wolle sich der Berliner Senat zum Schiedsrichter bei der Beurteilung von Protest-Inhalten machen, nach dem Motto „Gute Demos, Schlechte Demos“, das die NachDenkSeiten etwa in diesem Artikel beschrieben haben . Das Verbot bleibt auch dann falsch, wenn man sich mit den Demo-Inhalten nicht identifizieren sollte: Solange keine justiziablen Äußerungen von den Veranstaltern bekannt sind, darf der Inhalt kein Kriterium für das Gewähren des Demonstrationsrechts sein. Das Argument des Infektionsschutzes erscheint, wie gesagt, vorgeschoben.

“Corona protest: first slandered, then banned – The Berlin assembly authorities have banned demonstrations planned for the weekend by critics of the Corona policy, according to media reports. This decision is wrong for several reasons: The reasoning gives the impression that political statements are to be suppressed with the presumably advanced argument of infection protection. It gives the impression that the Berlin Senate wants to make itself the arbitrator in the evaluation of protest content, according to the motto “good demos, bad demos”, which the NachDenkSeiten have described in this article. The ban remains false even if one should not identify with the demo contents: As long as no justifiable statements are known by the organizers, the contents may not be a criterion for granting the right to demonstrate. The argument of protection against infection appears, as already mentioned, to be a pretext.”

Inakzeptabler Angriff auf eines unserer höchsten Grundrechte – Die deutsche Hauptstadt verbietet Demonstrationen gegen die Corona-Regeln der Bundesregierung und der Länder. Das ist ein inakzeptabler Angriff auf eines unserer höchsten Grundrechte, gegen jede Verhältnismäßigkeit und obendrein an politischer Dummheit kaum zu überbieten. Eine unbequeme, in Teilen extrem unappetitliche, aber vor allem (noch) eher kleine Gruppe wird hier in die Lage versetzt, sich als Kämpfer für unser Grundgesetz aufzuspielen. Und die Stadt Berlin hat ihr alle Argumente geschenkt und alle Gefallen getan, die man einer populistischen und wenig geeinten Bewegung schenken und tun kann.

“Unacceptable attack on one of our most fundamental rights – the German capital prohibits demonstrations against the corona rules of the German government and the Länder. This is an unacceptable attack on one of our most fundamental rights, against all proportionality and, on top of that, hard to beat in terms of political stupidity. An uncomfortable, in parts extremely unappetizing, but above all (still) rather small group is put in a position here to act as fighters for our Basic Law. And the city of Berlin has given it all the arguments and done all the favours that one can give and do to a populist and little united movement.”

Berlins Rot-rot-grüne Regierung wählt den Weg der Eskalation – Die Senatsregierung dürfte sich gefragt haben: Wollen wir uns wieder um Zahlen streiten und Nazis im Demozug suchen müssen? Oder wollen wir vom Regen in die Traufe und die Demos gleich ganz verbieten? Man hat sich für letzteres entschieden, als gäbe es keinen dritten Weg, nämlich den des Rechts.
Das muss man sich einmal vorstellen wollen: Die Bundeskanzlerin stellt in Brüssel zur deutschen EU-Ratspräsidentschaft gerade erst die Freiheits- und Grundrechte als hohes Gut „in den Fokus“ ihres Interesses und nur wenige Wochen später demonstrieren Angehörige von Merkels Koalitionspartner (und Möchtegernkoalitionspartner) in der Berliner Senatsregierung, was die Uhr tatsächlich geschlagen hat: Demonstrationen am Wochenende gegen die Corona-Maßnahmen – die im Übrigen ihrem Wesen nach ohnehin längst solche gegen die Merkel-Regierung geworden sind – werden verboten.

“Berlin’s red-red-green government chooses the path of escalation – The Senate government may have wondered: Do we want to argue about numbers again and have to search for Nazis in the Demozug? Or do we want to go from the frying pan into the fire and ban demos altogether? The latter has been chosen as if there were no third way, namely the right.
“You have to want to imagine that: In Brussels on the occasion of Germany’s EU Council Presidency, the German Chancellor has just begun to “focus” her attention on freedom and fundamental rights as a high good, and only a few weeks later members of Merkel’s coalition partner (and would-be coalition partners) in the Berlin Senate government are demonstrating what the clock has actually struck: Weekend demonstrations against the Corona measures – which, by the way, have by their very nature long since become those against the Merkel government anyway – are banned.”

Demonstration der Gegner der Corona-Maßnahmen verboten – Es wäre zu begrüßen, wenn das Gericht von den Behörden Beweise dafür verlangen würde, dass die Demonstrationen der letzten Monate zur Erhöhung der Ansteckungszahlen beigetragen haben. Unerwartet kam die Ankündigung von Berlins Innensenator Andreas Geisel nicht, die für kommenden Samstag geplanten Massendemonstrationen der Corona-Maßnahme-Gegner zu verbieten. Spätestens nachdem am vergangenen Samstag eine antirassistische Demonstration in Hanau zum Gedenken an den rassistischen Mordanschlag kurzfristig verboten wurde (Wie faktenbasiert sind die Demoverbote der letzten Tage), war klar, dass es auch in Berlin eine solche Maßnahme geben wird.

“Demonstration by opponents of the Corona measures banned – It would be welcome if the Court were to ask the authorities to provide evidence that the demonstrations of recent months have contributed to the increase in infection rates. Unexpectedly, the announcement by Berlin’s Senator of the Interior Andreas Geisel to ban the mass demonstrations of Corona opponents planned for next Saturday did not come as a surprise. At the latest after an anti-racist demonstration in Hanau in commemoration of the racist assassination attempt was banned at short notice last Saturday (How fact-based are the demo bans of the last days), it was clear that such a measure will also be taken in Berlin.”

Italy’s PM under investigation for enforcing ‘lock down’

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Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte is now officially under investigation for enforcing a nationwide ‘lock down’ in Italy against the advice of Italy’s scientific committee. The news from Italy, the first democratic country to impose a national lockdown, followed by others, is that the scientific committee recommended against it, but Conte over-ruled the scientific committee and had a ‘lock down’ imposed.

It was 9 March 2020 that the Conte government severely restricted the movement of the population except for necessity, work, and health circumstances. The scientific committee in Italy only recommended masks for those who feel ill. Among the questions to be raised by the investigation are: Who pushed for mandatory masks in public interior spaces? And, who was Conte listening to?

Here is the gist of the startling new developments in Italy, taken from two reports of the newspaper ‘La Repubblica’. The text of the two relevant news reports follows, in Italian, with an output from an automatic translator in English.

The first Repubblica news report, on 13 August, is headlined ‘Notices filed against PM and six ministers’. The main paragraphs are (Italian):

Avviso di garanzia da parte dei pm di Roma nei confronti del presidente del Consiglio Giuseppe Conte e dei ministri Alfonso Bonafede, Luigi Di Maio, Roberto Gualtieri, Lorenzo Guerini, Luciana Lamorgese e Roberto Speranza. Stando a quanto si legge in una nota della presidenza del Consiglio, con questo avviso si comunica la trasmissione al Tribunale dei ministri degli atti di un procedimento nato da varie denunce provenienti da soggetti di varie parti d’Italia per i reati di epidemia, delitti colposi contro la salute, omicidio colposo, abuso d’ufficio, attentato contro la Costituzione, attentato contro i diritti politici del cittadino (artt. 110, 438, 452 e 589, 323, 283, 294 del Codice penale).

Sempre la nota di Palazzo Chigi aggiunge che la Procura di Roma chiederà l’archiviazione: “La trasmissione da parte della Procura al Collegio in base alle previsioni di legge, è un atto dovuto. Nel caso specifico tale trasmissione è stata accompagnata da una relazione nella quale l’Ufficio della Procura ‘ritiene le notizie di testo infondate e dunque da archiviare'”.

(English): Warranty notice from the pm of Rome against the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Ministers Alfonso Bonafede, Luigi Di Maio, Roberto Gualtieri, Lorenzo Guerini, Luciana Lamorgese and Roberto Speranza. According to what is read in a note of the Council Presidency, this notice communicates the transmission to the Court of Ministers of the acts of a procedure born from various complaints from subjects in various parts of Italy for the crimes of epidemic, manslaughter against health, manslaughter, abuse of office, attack against the Constitution, attack against the political rights of the citizen (Articles 110, 438, 452 and 589, 323, 283, 294 of the Penal Code).

The note from Palazzo Chigi also adds that the Rome Public Prosecutor’s Office will ask for the case to be dismissed: “The transmission by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to the College according to the provisions of the law, is a due act. In the specific case this transmission was accompanied by a report in which the Public Prosecutor’s Office ‘considers the news of the text unfounded and therefore to be archived'”.

(IT): Conte e i ministri, inoltre, “si dichiarano sin d’ora disponibili a fornire ai magistrati ogni elemento utile a completare l’iter procedimentale, in uno spirito di massima collaborazione”. Successivamente il premier scrive su Facebook: “Ci siamo sempre assunti la responsabilità, in primis ‘politica’, delle decisioni adottate. Decisioni molto impegnative, a volte sofferte, assunte senza disporre di un manuale, di linee guida, di protocolli di azione. Abbiamo sempre agito in scienza e coscienza, senza la pretesa di essere infallibili ma nella consapevolezza di dover sbagliare il meno possibile per preservare al meglio gli interessi della intera comunità nazionale”.

Come accennato, sono oltre duecento gli esposti e le denunce presentate da cittadini sull’operato del governo nel periodo del lockdowon e dell’emergenza Coronavirus. Gli esposti, passati ai pm Eugenio Albamonte e Giorgio Orano, riguardano due ambiti della gestione da parte del governo: da un lato si accusa l’esecutivo di non aver saputo affrontare l’emergenza. Nel secondo filone sono stati inseriti gli esposti in cui si ipotizzano reati di abuso d’ufficio e attentato contro i diritti politici del cittadino per l’imposizione delle norme legate al lockdown.

(EN): Furthermore, Conte and the ministers “declare themselves willing to provide the magistrates with all the elements necessary to complete the procedure, in a spirit of maximum cooperation”. Subsequently, the Prime Minister writes on Facebook: “We have always taken responsibility, first and foremost ‘politics’, for the decisions taken. Very demanding decisions, sometimes painful, taken without having a manual, guidelines, protocols of action. We have always acted in science and conscience, without the pretension of being infallible, but in the awareness of having to make as little mistake as possible to preserve the interests of the entire national community as best we can”.

As mentioned, there are more than two hundred complaints and complaints from citizens about the government’s actions during the lockdowon and the Coronavirus emergency. The complaints, passed to the pm Eugenio Albamonte and Giorgio Orano, concern two areas of management by the government: on the one hand, the executive is accused of not having been able to deal with the emergency. In the second strand, the complaints have been inserted in which crimes of abuse of office and attack against the political rights of the citizen for the imposition of the rules related to the lockdown.

The earlier Repubblica news report, printed 6 August, is headlined ‘Coronavirus, the scientific committee wanted differentiated measures but Conte decided the lockdown for the whole Italy’. The main paragraphs are:

(IT): Il 7 marzo scorso con un documento riservato inviato al ministro della Salute Roberto Speranza, sull’analisi della situazione epidemiologica, il Comitato tecnico scientificio propone al governo di “adottare due livelli di misure di contenimento: uno nei territori in cui si è osservata maggiore diffusione del virus, l’altro sul territorio nazionale”. Nello specifico: misure più rigorose in Lombardia e nelle province di Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini e Modena, Pesaro Urbino, Venezia, Padova, Treviso, Alessandria e Asti”. Due giorni dopo, però, il presidente del Consiglio Conte con il Dpcm del 9 marzo dà il via al lockdown estendendo le stesse misure a tutto il territorio nazionale senza distinzioni e senza citare a giustificazione del provvedimento alcun atto del Comitato tecnico scientifico.

È la novità di maggiore rilievo che emerge dalla lettura dei cinque verbali, per oltre 200 pagine, che sono stati pubblicati sul sito della fondazione Luigi Einaudi, dopo essere stati desecretati dalla Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri. Sono alcuni dei verbali quelli prodotti dal Comitato tecnico scientifico per l’emergenza del Coronavirus e sono alla base delle decisioni prese dall’Esecutivo con i Dpcm. Documenti che che da giorni le opposizioni, e anche il Copasir, chiedevano di rendere pubblici. Pagine pagine firmate dal Comitato istituito con un’ordinanza del capo del dipartimento della Protezione Civile il 3 febbraio scorso. I cinque verbali sono datati 28 febbraio, 1 marzo, 7 marzo, 30 marzo e 9 aprile 2020. Ma non sono tutte. Mancano, ad esempio, le riunioni dai primi giorni di marzo, quelle della mancata zona rossa ad Alzano e Nembro, in Val Seriana.

(EN): On March 7 with a confidential document sent to the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, on the analysis of the epidemiological situation, the Scientific Technical Committee proposes to the government to “adopt two levels of containment measures: one in the territories where the virus has been observed more widespread, the other on the national territory”. Specifically: more stringent measures in Lombardy and in the provinces of Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini and Modena, Pesaro Urbino, Venice, Padua, Treviso, Alessandria and Asti”. Two days later, however, the President of the Count’s Council with the Dpcm of March 9 kicks off the lockdown by extending the same measures to the entire national territory without distinction and without citing any act of the Scientific Technical Committee to justify the measure.

This is the most important news that emerges from the reading of the five minutes, for over 200 pages, which were published on the website of the Luigi Einaudi Foundation, after having been declassified by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Some of the minutes are those produced by the Scientific Technical Committee for the emergency of the Coronavirus and are the basis of the decisions taken by the Executive with the Dpcm. Documents that for days the oppositions, and also the Copasir, were asking to make public. Pages pages signed by the Committee established by an order of the head of the Department of Civil Protection on February 3. The five minutes are dated 28 February, 1 March, 7 March, 30 March and 9 April 2020. But they are not all. There are, for example, the meetings since the first days of March, those of the missing red zone in Alzano and Nembro, in Val Seriana.

(IT): In un passaggio di questi verbali contenenti “informazioni non classificate controllate”, quello del primo marzo in una delle riunioni dopo l’esplosione del coronavirus in Italia, si legge che “il Cts esprime la raccomandazione generale che la popolazione, per tutta la durata dell’emergenza, debba evitare, nei rapporti interpersonali, strette di mano e abbracci”. Il 9 marzo, poi, il premier Giuseppe Conte avrebbe annunciato il lockdown.

Ieri sera alle 21.15 erano stati trasmessi tramite PEC dal Capo della Protezione Civile Angelo Borrelli agli avvocati Enzo Palumbo, Andrea Pruiti Ciarello e Rocco Mauro Todero. Il Governo – si legge sul sito della Fondazione – ha pertanto deciso di rivedere la propria posizione, anticipando il prevedibile esito dell’udienza collegiale fissata per il 10 settembre 2020, innanzi alla Terza Sezione del Consiglio di Stato e aderire alle richieste degli avvocati, fortemente rilanciate dalla Fondazione Luigi Einaudi e sostenute da molti parlamentari e da gran parte dell’opinione pubblica. La Fondazione Luigi Einaudi auspica che il Governo compia l’ulteriore passo sulla strada della trasparenza e pubblichi autonomamente tutti gli altri verbali del Comitato Tecnico Scientifico, utilizzati a supporto dei vari DPCM adottati dal Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri Giuseppe Conte, nel corso della pandemia da Covid-19.

Da parte sua, il ministro della Salute Roberto Speranza all’informativa al Senato, ha detto che “la Presidenza del Consiglio ha già provveduto a consegnare i verbali del Cts a chi ne ha fatto richiesta e la regola della trasparenza è quella cui non intendiamo rinunciare”.

(EN): In a passage of these minutes containing “controlled unclassified information”, that of March 1st in one of the meetings after the coronavirus explosion in Italy, we read that “the Cts expresses the general recommendation that the population, for the whole duration of the emergency, should avoid, in interpersonal relations, handshakes and hugs”. On March 9, then, Premier Giuseppe Conte announced the lockdown.

Yesterday evening at 9.15 p.m. were transmitted through PEC by the Head of Civil Protection Angelo Borrelli to lawyers Enzo Palumbo, Andrea Pruiti Ciarello and Rocco Mauro Todero. The Government – it can be read on the Foundation’s website – has therefore decided to review its position, anticipating the expected outcome of the collegial hearing scheduled for September 10, 2020, before the Third Section of the Council of State and adhere to the requests of the lawyers, strongly relaunched by the Luigi Einaudi Foundation and supported by many parliamentarians and a large part of public opinion. The Luigi Einaudi Foundation hopes that the Government will take a further step towards transparency and will independently publish all the other minutes of the Technical Scientific Committee, used to support the various Prime Ministerial Decree adopted by the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For his part, the Health Minister Roberto Speranza, at the information to the Senate, said that “the Presidency of the Council has already provided to deliver the minutes of the Cts to those who requested them and the rule of transparency is the one we do not intend to give up”.

Written by makanaka

August 16, 2020 at 19:47

Posted in health

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The deadly threat of gene drives

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The UN Biodiversity Conference began on 13 November 2018 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, and until its close on 29 November will call on decision makers from more than 190 countries to step up efforts to “halt biodiversity loss and protect the ecosystems that support food and water security and health for billions of people”.

On 17 November, the Conference of Parties to the Cartagena Protocol of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity begins. On the agenda is a vital subject that has been moved to the centre of the meeting’s deliberations: a technology called ‘gene drives’. This part of the UN Biodiversity Conference will discuss several key draft decisions about the risks it poses and how to deal with them, including through a moratorium on the technology.

What are ‘gene drives’? Gene drive organisms are supposed to ‘force’ one or more genetic traits onto future generations of their own species. The term for gene drives used by French scientists, ‘Forçage Génétique’ (genetic forcer) makes the intention clear: to force an engineered genetic change through an entire population or even an entire species. If permitted, such organisms could accelerate the distribution of corporate-engineered genes from the lab to the rest of the living world at dizzying speed and in an irreversible process.

As a must-read explainer of this menacing new technology, prepared by the ETC Group and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, has put it, such organisms “are designed, over time, to replace non-gene drive organisms of the same species in a population via an uncontrolled chain reaction – this ability may make them a far more dangerous biohazard than genetically modified organisms (GMOs)”. [The report, released in October 2018, is ‘Forcing The Farm: How Gene Drive Organisms Could Entrench Industrial Agriculture and Threaten Food Sovereignty’.]

Recently, a study by the Bundesamt für Naturschutz, which is the central scientific authority of the German federal government for both national and international nature conservation, warned that “with gene drives, GMO applications are moving directly from crop plants to modifying wild species. Major consequences on semi-natural and natural ecosystems are expected.” The research concludes that “a clear understanding
and analysis of these differences is crucial for any risk assessment regime and a socially acceptable and
ethical evaluation that is vital for the application of [GDO] technology”.

More pertinent to the current model of the transnational cartelisation of industrial agricultre, a group of French researchers recently concluded: “The time frame of gene drive perfectly fits the economic development strategies dominant today in agribusiness, with a focus on short-term return on investments and disdain for long-term issues. The current economic system based on productivity, yields, monoculture, and extractivism is a perfect match for the operating mode of gene drive.” [From ‘Agricultural pest control with CRISPR‐based gene drive: time for public debate’ by Virginie Courtier‐Orgogozo, Baptiste Morizot and Christophe Boëte in EMBO Reports.]

Reading these warnings helps form better clarity about what GDOs are and are not. From what I have been able to understand, normal reproductive biology gives the offspring of sexually reproducing organisms a 50:50 chance of inheriting a gene from their parents. The gene drives however is an invasive technology to ensure that within a few generations, all that organisms offspring will contain an engineered gene!

Why the phase shift from the already dangerous GMO to the threatening of an entire species by GDO? Thanks to rising consumer awareness of the dangers of GMO food crops, vegetables and fruit – which is now visible even in India (a generation-and-a-half later than Europe) where the central and state governments have put not a rupee into educating consumers about pesticide and synthetic fertiliser poisoning, let alone GMOs) – the uptake of GMOs is levelling off as the predicted risks have become evident, such as the intensification of the treadmill of increased use of toxic chemicals. The so-called ‘gene editing’ techniques, and particularly GDOs, has given the industrial agriculture-biotech-seed multinational corporations a strategy to regain the pace of their domination of food cultivation and therefore food control.

Recognising the extreme danger, the UN Biodiversity Conference which is now under way in Egypt, and particularly the part of the conference beginning on 17 November which is the Conference of Parties to the Cartagena Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), have placed gene drives on the agenda. [The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 and entered into force on 11 September 2003.]

The meeting will discuss, under ‘Risk assessment and risk management’ (which are Articles 15 and 16 of the Protocol) draft decisions on gene drives and, we must hope, take them while imposing a moratorium on this evil technology. [Draft decision document CBD/CP/MOP/9/1/ADD2]. The draft decisions are:

3. Also recognises that, as there could be potential adverse effects arising from organisms containing engineered gene drives, before these organisms are considered for release into the environment, research and analysis are needed, and specific guidance may be useful, to support case-by-case risk assessment;

4.Notes the conclusions of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Synthetic Biology that, given the current uncertainties regarding engineered gene drives, the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities might be warranted when considering the possible release of organisms containing engineered gene drives that may impact their traditional knowledge, innovation, practices, livelihood and use of land and water;

5. Calls for broad international cooperation, knowledge sharing and capacity-building to support, inter alia, Parties in assessing the potential adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity from [living modified organisms produced through genome editing,] living modified organisms containing engineered gene drives and living modified fish, taking into account risks to human health, the value of biodiversity to indigenous peoples and local communities, and relevant experiences of individual countries in performing risk assessment of such organisms in accordance with annex III of the Cartagena Protocol;

The concerns of the CBD and the warnings of scientists have been entirely ignored by the agricultural biotechnology corporations and by the inter-connected funding organisations and research groups engaged in synthetic biology. As the report, ‘Forcing The Farm’, has said, multimillion-dollar grants for gene drive development have been given by Gates Foundation, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the Open Philanthropy Institute, the Wellcome Trust and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. These include generous allowances for what is called ‘public message testing’ and ‘public engagement exercises’ – making GDOs sound beneficial to society and glossing over the dangers – and lobbying of governments and policy-makers.

What is particularly worrying for us in India is the role of the Tata Trusts in financing research on GDOs. In 2016 October an American university, the University of California San Diego, received a US$70 million commitment from the Tata Trusts (which now is the umbrella organisation for what earlier were the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and the Tata Education and Development Trust, and in terms of funding capacity is probably the largest in India) to establish the Tata Institute for Active Genetics and Society (TIAGS).

This new institute is described as a collaborative partnership between the university and research operations in India. A university press release had said: “UC San Diego, which will be home to the lead unit of the institute (TIAGS-UC San Diego), will receive US$35 million in funding, while the remainder of the committed funds is anticipated to support a complementary research enterprise in India (TIAGS-India).”

India is a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity (signed 23/01/2001, ratified 17/01/2003, entered into force 11/09/2003) and its reporting to the Protocol on risk assessments of GMOs (which have officially not been used on food crops) has been worse than desultory – the five risk assessments submitted by India are all in 2012 for Bt cotton hybrids.

The shameful co-option of the statutory Genetic Engineering Approval Committee by India’s biotech companies, which was fully revealed in 2016 during the furore over the Committee’s bid to have GM mustard approved, has shown that the entire biosafety assessment process in India and its ability to actually protect our environment and citizens’ health from the profoundly menacing risks of biotechnology, is compromised.

The Gates Foundation, which has graduated from influencing central and state government policy in health and agriculture to becoming an implementing agency, and which has invested heavily in synthetic biotechnology and GDOs (such as ‘Target Malaria’, which uses gene drives against mosquitoes) is now collaborating with the Tata Trusts in health, nutrition and crop cultivation together with the American aid agency USaid and other foundations that claim philanthropic intentions. The risks to our agro-ecological methods, our local crop cultivation knowledge, our food and our public healthcare system have now become far more threatening.

Unmasking the new food syndicate

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An agency of the central government is serving as administrative cover for an inter-connected group of international donor agencies, multinational corporations, international policy and advocacy groups, Indian industries and Indian non-government organisations, all bent on bringing the next wave of industrialisation to food and its sales.

The FSSAI communication to consumers highlights the look, texture, weight and size of vegetables. Good organic produce however is never uniform and is frequently ‘blemished’, which the FSSAI warns against buying.

This next wave of industrial food is based on existing and new genetic engineering and manipulation technologies, none of which there is adequate regulation for (nor, for some of these technologies, even recognition of). The justification created for claiming these technologies are needed is the shift from ‘hunger’ to the successors of ‘malnutrition’ which are: ‘hidden hunger’ and ‘micronutrient deficiency’. This shift is seen as having the potential to open up a vast and very lucrative new area of the food sector.

Because of the growing (slowly but steadily) tendency of consumers towards organically grown staple food crops and horticulture, and because of the growing opposition to genetically modified seed and food, the food industry in India is following a new strategy through this central government agency. The strategy includes:
1. Defining what ‘safe’ food is and defining what ‘nutrition’ is.
2. Strengthening and deepening the consumer markets for industrially grown and controlled crops from which processed and packaged food products are manufactured.
3. Protecting the businesses of Indian food (and beverage) companies and foreign food MNCs through legislation.
4. Consolidating the ‘back end’ of industrial retail and processed food – which is the interest of the agricultural biotechnology (agbiotech) corporations, the fertiliser and pesticides companies, the farming machinery industry, the food processing machinery industry, the food logistics sector.
5. Facilitating the further integration in India of the food and pharmaceutical industries through the promotion of food ‘fortification’ and food ‘supplements’.

Buy milk pasteurised, buy it packaged and buy it sealed says FSSAI. Milk is considered by the FSSAI’s international collaborators and local ‘nutrition coalitions’ to be the ideal medium for food ‘fortification’. Using what material? There are no answers.

The agency that has taken the responsibility for seeing this strategy through is the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). It was established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (No.34 of 2006). The FSSAI is described as having been “created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption”.

The 2006 Act subsumed central acts like the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, Fruit Products Order 1955, and the Meat Food Products Order 1973. Other legislations like the Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order 1947, Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order 1988, Solvent Extracted Oil, De-Oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order 1967, Milk and Milk Products Order 1992 were repealed when the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 commenced.

It is during the last two years in particular that the FSSAI has become very much more visible and active. This heightened visibility is a result of the FSSAI using the powers it has directly through the 2006 Act, but also because of its widening alliances with the food and beverages industry, with the dairy and milk products industry and with the global ‘nutrition’ consortia.

Edible oils must be packaged says FSSAI. The oil ‘ghani’ is scarcely seen nowadays, but its produce was fresher and gave households more confidence about the purity of the produce than blended oils can. Edible oils from GM oilseeds or GM vegetable oil sources are being imported with no safety oversight whatsoever, but FSSAI’s insistence that packaged edible oil is ‘safe’ discriminates against oil pressed at small scale from local oilseeds that may be entirely organic.

Today the FSSAI is very close to becoming a single reference point for all matters relating to food safety and standards, and is also very close to becoming the most important arbiter of what is considered ‘nutrition’ and what is considered ‘safe food’ in India. Because of the growth in recent years of the processed and packaged food industry (not the same as agriculture, horticulture, collection of forest products, inland and coastal small fisheries) the importance of a single reference point agency increases even more.

The largest formal industry associations – CII, Assocham and FICCI – estimate that in 2017 the retail or store value of packaged and processed foods (and beverages) was about 2,048,000 crore rupees (about US$ 320 billion) in 2016. This enormous estimate is thought by the industry to be able to rise much more to around 3,400,000 crore rupees (about US$ 540 billion) by 2021-22 provided of course changes are made in regulation, called ‘ease of doing business’ (the calamitous benchmark of the World Bank). The FSSAI is to be seen as a critical part of the overall apparatus to reach this gigantic sum in the next five or six years.

It is entirely possible if the FSSAI and its accomplice government agencies and ministries are permitted by us to get away with it. The same industry associations (interest clubs of companies and investors) say that the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sector in India has grown in rupee terms at an average of about 11% a year for the last decade and that four out of every 10 rupees spent on FMCGs are spent on food and beverages.

With practically no remaining restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the food and retail sector, and with the former Foreign Investment Promotion Board (under the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance) being replaced as an ‘ease of doing business’ change with the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry) the central government has done its bit to level – dangerously for both consumer health and for environmental well-being – the playing field.

For cereals and pulses too the FSSAI wants consumers to buy packaged, uniformly sized and fortified produce. The don’ts are fair but the dos only fulfil the agbiotech-pharma agenda.

The web of inter-connections that together exert great power over the food industry – and because of it over agriculture, horticulture, forestry products and fisheries – can be seen in how the FSSAI is set up and which agencies it advises. Its administrative ministry is the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The FSSAI works closely with the Ministry of Women and Child Development (its object being the Integrated Child Development Services, ICDS, which provides food, pre-school education, and primary healthcare to children under 6 years of age and their mothers), with the Department of School Education and Literacy of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (its object being the Mid-Day Meal Scheme).

The FSSAI relies on the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (Ministry of Commerce and Industry) to bring in (through the FDI route) or encourage private sector units that will prepare and deliver the material for food ‘fortification’ and food ‘supplements’. It coordinates with the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (Ministry of Agriculture) concerning the dairy industry – working directly with the National Dairy Development Board to ‘fortify’ milk. It synchronises its rules and regulations with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, which is the single point of reference for an industry that has become gigantic.

Frozen foods are energy sinks and are the very antithesis of healthy meal ingredients. But FSSAI has a place for them in its advice to consumers.

Furthermore the FSSAI works in tandem with the Department of Biotechnology (Ministry of Science and Technology) and the Department of Health Research (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) in a joint effort to bring in and to develop biotechnology, genetic engineering and gene modification, and to find ways to publicise justifications (contrary to the great mass of scientific study that show GMOs to be harmful to humans, animals, soil and insects) for the use of these technologies and methods.

Thus although the FSSAI is considered by the Union Government of India to be an agency that has replaced multi-level, multi-departmental areas of control to a single line of command, just like the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal or the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, these are agencies which do their work in concert, and that concert is played to the tune of the global agbiotech industry, the global food retailers, the e-commerce merchants and all their Indian corporate partners, subsidiaries and otherwise serfs.

Where genetically modified seed and crop, genetic engineering and gene manipulation in food ingredients and therefore food products are concerned, the FSSAI adopts the principle of lying low and saying nothing. In this its behaviour is consistent with that of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC, under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, but over which the Department of Biotechnology has controlling influence) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (responsible for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research and which is administered by the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare), both of which lie lower and say even less.

Even condiments and spices are passed by FSSAI as good to consume provided they are packed, packaged and sealed. In this way, the agency is preparing the ground for outlawing non-packaged, freshly ground and prepared foods and spices.

Such incoherence may partly explain why while the FSSAI collaborates with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (which is under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry) towards its idea of ‘safe food’ and ‘nutrition’, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (also under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry) was asked by the Ministry of Environment to stop imports of GM soybean for food or feed without the approval of the GEAC.

The Coalition for a GM-free India has noted a string of imports of agricultural produce which should have been halted at the sea ports of entry and tested for whether they were GM/GE. The FSSAI has inspection sites at 21 locations including six sea ports. But the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) tested seed samples in Gujarat and found them to be genetically modified, while the Soybean Processors’ Association of India has raised serious concerns about the alleged import of GM soybean and farmers in Maharashtra complained about GM soyabean being cultivated for the last three years in Yavatmal.

There can be no excuse of any kind for these imports having taken place (and these are only the ones we have learnt about – seeds for planting can be imported via airfrieght at any international air cargo terminal in India). Till today, the Department of Consumer Affairs (Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution) has a well-publicised programme and campaign of consumer awareness – on such matters as maximum retail price, expiry date of food products, batch number and correct weight – but not on whether a food product has ingredients from GM crop and why it is important for a consumer to know this.

This is deliberately withholding information from consumers about food and food products that government agencies are certifying and permitting to be sold. While for organic foods there is a new regulation requiring quality assurance and traceability – under the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017 – which attest to a product’s ‘organic status’ and its ‘organic integrity’, there is none whatsoever for products that have a GM ingredient.

“Essential nutrients”, “daily requirement”, “fight infections”, “strong and healthy”. The FSSAI uses the marketing gibberish of the infant and baby foods industry to daze consumers into believing that food ‘fortification’ is essential.

Under its ‘Safe and Nutritious Food’ programme, the FSSAI seeks to direct home consumers and institutional buyers of food products (such as company staff canteens) in all manner of standards relating to fresh, processed and packaged foods, edible oils, dairy products, meats and beverages. The FSSAI talks about standards for goat and sheep milk, chhana and paneer, whey cheese, cheese in brine, dairy permeate powder, refined vegetable oil, synthetic syrup and sharbat, coconut milk and coconut cream, wheat bran, non-fermented soybean products, processing aides for use in various food categories, limits for heavy metals, standards relating to pulses, millet, cornflakes, degermed maize, formulated supplements for children, honey, beeswax, additives in various food categories, tolerance limits of antibiotic and pharmacologically active substances.

But not a word about GMOs, over which we have had scarcely any regulation, and none at all about synthetic biology (also known as GMOs 2.0), which are not even close to being recognised as needing immediate regulation in India. Both generations of GMO survive by inventing and exaggerating claims of experimental science whose human, toxicological and environmental safety has not been studied thoroughly, by an absence of labelling to stringencies that are demanded of organic produce, by putting industry in control of food systems, by threatening biodiversity.

Some examples from elsewhere in the world are ‘probiotic yoghurt’ made out of engineered bacteria and other microorganisms which are intended to change bacteria inhabiting the human digestive tract, ‘gene sprays’ that can be sprayed directly onto crops in the feld to manipulate the genetics of pests and the terrible ‘gene drives’ which permanently ‘drive’ a genetic trait through a species to change the entire population forever by making it dependent on chemicals or to go extinct.

Warnings about allergies and additives. Why not about GM ingredients?

The FSSAI and its host ministry, the GEAC and its host ministry, every administrative apparatus of the Union Government and of the state governments are silent on this matter. They are just as silent on the question: of what materials are these so-called ‘fortification’ made?

The international donor agencies working with the FSSAI and being consulted by the agency on ‘safe food’, ‘nutrition’ and food fortification are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security, the Food Fortification Initiative, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, the Iodine Global Network, Nutrition International, PATH, the Tata Trusts, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation and the World Bank. Each has an agenda that goes far beyond ‘food safety’. One or more of them undoubtedly has the answer.

All the conditions that are pointed to (wasting, stunting, chronic under-nutrition, anaemia) as needing remedies from food ‘fortification’ and ‘supplements’ can be easily remedied through more sensible crop cultivation choices and diets that are agro-ecologically and culturally sound. But food has long been a means of control, and this is the work that FSSAI does beyond and behind the ‘safety’ and ‘standards’ part of its mandate.

Vegetable hocus-pocus in India

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Which one of these two statements is false?

‘India has more than enough vegetables to feed its households, which need about 144 million tons per year’

‘There is a deficit of about 20 million tons in 2 out of 3 vegetable types India’s households need’

Which one you choose as false depends on whose interpretation of vegetable self-sufficiency you lean towards: the Ministry of Agriculture’s triumphant announcements of ever higher vegetable tonnage, or the data on crop quantities combined with current population and dietary needs (as I do here).

My answer is that the second of the two statements is nearly true whereas the first is entirely false. This is the explanation, and it is based on the data using which the startling graphic presented above was drawn.

In its ‘First Advance Estimates of Horticulture Crops’ for 2017-18, the Ministry of Agriculture has said that a record quantity of 180 million tons of vegetables has been cultivated.

This is no doubt a quantity record for vegetables. It apparently exceeds by a wide margin the quantity required to adequately provide all our households with vegetables for their daily meals. How many household would that be? My calculation, based on the projected increases in population and household contained in Census 2011, is about 270 million (or 27 crore) households in 2018, and with the mean size of the household being 4.8 members.

Such a typical household needs about 1.44 kilograms per day of vegetables as part of a well-balanced diet. Adjusting for the smaller portions eaten by children (up to 14 or 15 years old) and the elderly (from about 65 years old) and further adjusting for the losses and waste that take place from the time vegetables are brought to mandis till they cooked in kitchens, a total of about 144 million tons is needed to supply all our households for a year.

With 180 million tons cultivated and 144 million tons needed, we seem to have a surplus of some 36 million tons of vegetables.

Not so. This ‘surplus’ needs closer examination, which the chart guides you towards. As you see, the biggest circles belong to five vegetable categories: potato, tomato, other vegetables, onion, and brinjal.

What these biggest circles represent needs to be connected to what the National Institute of Nutrition has recommended as the required daily quantities of vegetables. And that is, not just 300 grams per day, but 50 grams of green leafy vegetables, 100 grams of roots and tubers and 150 grams of other vegetables. A household consuming the stipulated 1.44 kg/day of vegetables if those vegetables are a kilo of potatoes and 440 grams of tomatoes is not a household eating vegetables – it’s a household eating far too many potatoes and tomatoes.

The chart shows us dramatically how unbalanced the cultivation of vegetables has become in India. Nearly 40% of the total cultivated is onions and potatoes (70 mt). Add tomatoes and the three account for 51% of the total (93 mt). Add brinjal and the four account for 58% of the total (105 mt).

Our 270 million households should be buying, cooking and eating about 95 million tons of vegetables that are green and leafy, or are ‘other vegetables’. But in these two categories, we are growing no more than about 75 mt – which reveals a massive shortfall of 20 million tons.

This is the truth behind the tale of booming, record vegetable production. Those five big circles in the chart should never have been the sizes they are. Our households do not need an allocation of 500 grams of potatoes per day (no, Lays, Pringles, Doritos, Kurkure, Uncle Chipps, Bingo, Haldirams chips and wafers are not food).

What we need instead is for every taluka, tehsil, block and mandal to value and grow its local varieties of leafy greens, roots and tubers, shoots and stems, edible flowers and buds. That is what will bring back genuine vegetable nutrition and diversity.

Written by makanaka

January 8, 2018 at 19:50

The plot to cripple the Bharatiya kamadhenu

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To focus your attention on the terrible fate that threatens our indigenous breeds of cow and buffalo, here are the connections, which are now more than 45 years old, between the period that led to Operation Flood (or ‘white revolution’ as it was also called) and with it the campaign to increase the supply of milk in India by steadily weakening the desi gou, and the situation we have today of a National Dairy Support Project, which continues to do the same.

A little history. At the end of the 1960s, surplus dairy products from what was then the European Community were sent to India through the World Food Programme (WFP). This dairy produce was sold to cooperative and state dairies in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai, ‘reconstituted’ with local milk and sold to city consumers. This project was known as Flood I and was to end in 1975. It continued until 1981.

From the Chapter on Agriculture and Food Management (page 181), the Economic Survey 2016-17, Volume 2, uses language like “terminal value of assets, in this case the no-longer-productive livestock” and warns about social (that is, the Hindu cultural view) policies which “drive this terminal value precipitously down” affecting “private returns… in a manner that could make livestock farming less proftable”. The Finance Ministry and India’s macro-economic planners see our gou and buffalo only as milk producers or sources of meat, and calculate only what it costs to keep them producing or profitable.

Three years earlier in 1978 Flood II had begun. This extended Flood I to the whole country, and was financed by a loan from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and direct aid from the European Community. Flood II was to conclude in 1985 but was extended until 1987.
In the late 1980s this nearly twenty-year long programme was considered to have:
* improved the living conditions of 10 million families of milk producers by adding 13 million litres of milk per day to the cooperative dairy industry’s processing capacity
* created a milk distribution network covering 142 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants
* created the infrastructure needed to carry out programmes to promote dairy production, such as artificial insemination, vaccine production, the manufacture of compound foodstuffs
* raised daily milk consumption to 180 grams per inhabitant “to obtain a nutritionally balanced diet”

Now to our recent past. On 15 March 2012 the World Bank approved a National Dairy Support Project (project number P107648) for India. The project began on 22 June 2012, was reviewed in April 2015, had an original closing date of 31 December 2017 which has been revised now to 29 November 2019. It has three components which are: ‘Productivity Enhancement’ (US$193.80 million), ‘Milk Collection and Bulking’ (US$77.30 million) and ‘Project Management and Learning’ (US$22.00 million).

The World Bank’s description of project number P107648 is:
“The National Dairy Support Project (NDSP) which supports India’s National Dairy Plan, Phase I (NDP-I), aims to cover about 40,000 villages across 18 participating dairying states with investments in Productivity Enhancement (e.g., high genetic merit bulls, disease-free semen production, doorstep artificial insemination services, ration balancing program, fodder development) and Milk Collection and Bulking (e.g., village-level infrastructure such as bulk milk cooling units).

Brazenly ‘free market’-oriented in its advice and advocacy, Niti Aayog has mentioned only breeding in its section on livestock, in the policy paper on ‘Doubling Farmers’ Income: Rationale, Strategy, Prospects and Action Plan’, March 2017. The usual complaint of low milk productivity, growth in milk output needed, better feed and nutrition for animals are found in this think-tank’s MNC-directed view.

The description continues: “At its inception, this eight-year project was expected to directly benefit about 1.7 million rural milk producing households through its interventions, a large majority of whom are small holder producers with six animals or less.
“Cumulatively till date, 158 End Implementing Agencies – EIAs (e.g., milk unions, milk federations, dairy producer companies and livestock development boards) are implementing 364 sub-projects across 18 states with a total outlay of Rs. 1904 Crores (USD 292 million), out of which Rs. 318 Crores (USD 48.9 million) are contributed by the EIAs. These participating states account for nearly 95 per cent of India’s milk production, over 87 per cent of the breedable cattle and buffalo population and 98 per cent of the country’s fodder resources. To date, over 2.7 million milk producers have benefited from overall NDP interventions in breed improvement, animal nutrition and bulk milk collection.”

For each of the years 2013 to 2016, the National Dairy Support Project has required the import of “frozen in-vivo produced” and “pure bred” Holstein, Friesian and Jersey bulls. This is to continue for 2017 to 2019 so that the 100 million doses “target” of the artificial insemination programme is reached.

This is the brief outline and background of the government-managed, World Bank-directed programme to weaken generation after generation of our desi gou through a machiavellian plan of cross-breeding them with foreign cattle (Holstein, Friesian and Jersey), so that the gou-based economy of Bharat will be destroyed and replaced by a dairy products industry designed and controlled by multinationals that include Nestlé, Danone, Lactalis, FrieslandCampina, Fonterra, Dean Foods, Unilever, Kraft Heinz, Schreiber Foods and 11 others. It will also be partly controlled by Amul, Mother Dairy, Kwality, Hatsun Agro, Heritage Foods, VRS Foods, Anik Industries, Parag Milk Foods, Creamline Dairy Products and others who greedily want their share of what is calculated to be a market sector worth more than Rs 80,000 crore. There is no desi gou, nor the reverence to kamadhenu. There are only products, consumers and an arsenal of sickening technology and breeding programmes that if not stopped now will result in the remaining 39 desi gou breeds losing their desi qualities.

It is this that lies behind the Rashtriya Gokul Mission that was launched in December 2014, the National Programme for Bovine Breeding, the National Mission on Bovine Productivity that was launched in November 2016 (which includes the Pashu Sanjivni for identification of animals in milk using UID, embryo transfer technology labs with IVF facilities, the e-pashu haat portal, the National Bovine Genomic Centre for Indigenous Breeds), the National Kamdhenu Breeding Centres (one in Andhra Pradesh and another in Madhya Pradesh), and the three subordinate organisations: Central Cattle Breeding Farms, Central Herd Registration Scheme, Central Frozen Semen Production and Training Institute.

This is the horrifying extent of what has been done since 2012, the methods for which were introduced over 45 years ago, and which are now frighteningly augmented by the unchecked and unregulated animal genomics.

Disband the ministry for women and children

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RG_WCD_20160830

Perhaps better known for her penchant to find ways to police social media, the ministry headed by Maneka Gandhi has accommodated NGOs and their agendas easily.

There have in 2016 been several occasions when the work of the Ministry of Women and Child Development has come into the public glare. Not for reasons concerned with the welfare of women and children but instead for the words and actions of its minister, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, on matters such as abuse of women in social media and paternity leave.

It is however with regard to the subjects that this ministry is concerned with – women and children of Bharat – that the most serious questions arise. As a separate ministry it is only a little over ten years old, having earlier been a department in the Ministry of Education (as the Ministry of Human Resources Development was earlier known) and with the department having been created in 1985.

What does this ministry do? In its own words: “The Ministry was constituted with the prime intention of addressing gaps in State action for women and children for promoting inter-Ministerial and inter-sectoral convergence to create gender equitable and child-centred legislation, policies and programmes.” The programmes and schemes run and managed by the ministry deal with welfare and support services for women and children, training for employment and the earning of incomes, gender sensitisation and the raising of awareness about the particular problems faced by women and children.

The ministry says that its work plays “a supplementary and complementary role to the other general developmental programmes in the sectors of health, education, rural development etc” so that women are “empowered both economically and socially and thus become equal partners in national development along with men”.

In my view there are several problems afflicting this ministry, not only in terms of what it says its work is, but also in how it goes about its work. As was the case in other countries that were once called the Third World (later called “under-developed” or “developing” countries and now called “emerging markets”), the creation of such departments or ministries came about as an adjunct to the worldwide concern about population growth, and which in Bharat had been through a particularly contentious phase in the 1970s.

Programme promotion material from the WCD. Nice pictures of children, but where are the families they belong to?

Programme promotion material from the WCD. Nice pictures of children, but where are the families they belong to?

That in our case a department was turned into a ministry needs to be considered against a background that has become very relevant now, for the year was 2006 and the Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) had gone through their first set of comprehensive reviews and ‘corrections’. It is relevant because the problems concerning how the Ministry of WCD is now going about its work has to do with the successor to the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Looking back even only as far as recent weeks, the view, conduct and agency of this ministry calls into question, in my view, the need for it to continue as a separate ministry. Do read TS Ranga who provides a trailer into the bewildering whims and fancies of the minister. And here is a short list of the very substantial problem areas:

1. “Healthy Food to Pregnant Women-Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)”. This means provision of supplementary nutrition to children (6 months to 6 years), pregnant women and lactating mothers. A variety of measures are needed to ensure provision: ‘Take Home Ration’, a conditional cash transfer scheme to give maternity benefit, ‘Village Health and Nutrition Days’ held monthly at anganwadi centres, tackling iron deficiency anaemia, a national conditional cash transfer to incentivise institutional delivery at public health facilities.

2. “Universal Food Fortification”. Fortification of food items like salt, edible oil, milk, wheat and rice with iron, folic acid, Vitamin-D and Vitamin-A “to address the issue of malnutrition and to evolve a policy and draft legislation/regulation on micronutrient fortification”.

3. “Beneficiaries of Supplementary Nutrition Programme under ICDS”. The increase in the number of beneficiaries is linked to the “Development Agenda for 2016-2030 of the United Nations” (the SDGs). The ministry delivers three of six ICDS services through the public health infrastructure under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

4. “National Plan of Action for Children 2016”. The draft plan is based on principles contained in the National Policy for Children 2013 and categorises the rights of the children under four areas. The draft is being developed by ministries, state governments, and civil society organisations.

5. “ICDS Being Completely Revamped To Address The Issue Of Malnutrition”. The ministry is undertaking a complete revamp of the ICDS programme as the level of malnutrition in the country continues to be high. The digitisation of anganwadis is being taken up for real-time monitoring of every child and every pregnant and lactating mother. The ministry wants supplementary nutrition to be standardised through both manufacturing and distribution.

A great deal about 'nutrition', but nothing about the agricultural environment which supplies the nutrition. Unless by 'nutrition' the WCD considers only what MNCs produce as supplements and food 'fortification'.

A great deal about ‘nutrition’, but nothing about the agricultural environment which supplies the nutrition. Unless by ‘nutrition’ the WCD considers only what MNCs produce as supplements and food ‘fortification’.

6. “WCD Ministry and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sign Memorandum of Cooperation”. The memorandum is for technical support to strengthen the nutrition programme in Bharat and includes ICT-based real-time monitoring of ICDS services. The motive is for national and state capacities to be strengthened to deliver nutrition interventions during pre-conception, pregnancy and first two years of life. There will be technological innovation, sharing best practices and use of data and evidence.

7. “ICT enabled Real-Time Monitoring System of ICDS”. The web-enabled online digitisation “will strengthen the monitoring of the service delivery of anganwadis, help improve the nutrition levels of children and help meet nutrition goals”. This will help draw the nutrition profile of each village and address the problem of malnutrition by getting real-time reports from the grassroot level. It will start with a project assisted by International Development Association (IDA) in 162 high burden districts of eight states covering 3.68 lakh anganwadis.

8. “Draft National Policy for Women, 2016”. The policy is being revised after 15 years and is expeceted to guide Government action on women’s issues over the next 15-20 years. “Several things have changed since the last policy of 2001 especially women’s attitude towards themselves and their expectations from life”.

9. “Stakeholders Consultations Held For Policy On Food Fortification“. A consultation with stakeholders was held to evolve a comprehensive policy including draft regulations on micronutrient fortification.

What do these tell us?

a) The ministry does not consider either women or children to be part of a family, or an extended family, or a joint family, nor are they part of a village community consisting of peers and elders. The extremely essential months during which women conceive, the post natal period, and the life of the infant until the age of two or three is – under this view – to be monitored and governed by the ministry and its agents. There is in neither of the draft plans mentioned in the points above the briefest mention of culture or community.

b) Such a view, distasteful and profoundly disruptive as it is to the institution of family, has come about because of the influences upon the ministry. Women and children are seen in this view as factors of consumption even within the family, and the decisions pertaining to what they consume, how much and when are to be controlled for lengthy periods of time by implementers and partners of the ministry’s programmes and schemes, which themselves are shaped by an international list called the SDGs in whose framing these women, children and their families played no part.

c) Sheltering behind the excuse of delivering the services of the ICDS, the ministry through its association with the Gates Foundation plans to collect at an individual level the medical data of millions of infants and mothers, for use as evidence. By whom? By the partners of the Gates Foundation and its allies which are the multi-national pharmaceutical industry, the multi-national agriculture and crop science industry and the multi-national processed foods industry. Hence we see the insistence on biofortification, micronutrients, ready-to-eat take-home rations and the money being provided (by the government through cash transfers) to buy these substances. The ICDS budget for the duration of the Twelfth Five Year Plan which ends in March 2017 is Rs 1,23,580 crore – a gigantic sum distributed amongst several thousand projects with a few hundred local implementing agencies including NGOs.

d) These objectives alone are reason enough to have the officials concerned, including the minister, immediately suspended and charge-sheeted for conspiracy against the public of Bharat. It is far beyond shameful that the valid reasons of malnutrition and gaps in the provision of essential services are being twisted in a manner that can scarcely be grasped. The 10.3 million children and women that are in the ICDS ‘supplementary nutrition’ net today form potentially the largest legitimised medical trial in the world, but with none of the due diligence, informed consent and independent supervision required for such trials in the so-called developed countries.

e) The ministry is entirely in thrall to its foreign ‘development partners’ – UNICEF, World Bank, DFID, WFP and USAID. For this reason the ministry has had the closest and cosiest of arrangements, from amongst all central ministries, with non-government organisations (NGOs) foreign and national. The international bodies such as UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP) and the large national aid agencies (Britain’s DFID and the USA’s USAID) provide programme funding to NGOs international and national who work with and advise the WCD ministry. In the 2000s this was in order to comply with the Millennium Development Goals, now it is for the SDGs, and this is why the policy view of the ministry aligns with the UN SDGs rather than with the needs of our families whether rural or urban.

What is the remedy? The ministry manages several programmes that are critical for a large number of families all over Bharat. However these are programmes that have much in common with the aims and programmes of three ministries in particular: the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, and the Ministry of Human Resources Development (for matters pertaining to regulation and policy, the Ministry of Law and justice). These three ministries become the natural recipients of the responsibilities borne thus far by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and when such a transfer of allied duties is effected, some of the most important years in the lives of the children and women of Bharat will not become data points and consumption instances for corporations but return to being families.

Written by makanaka

August 30, 2016 at 22:43