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Genetic Roulette

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, January 22, 2009 | 2:54 AM

Book launch of the internationally renowned book on the health impact of genetic engineering Genetic Roulette written by Prof Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology, USA. The Indian edition of the book is being brought out by the Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad, South Against Genetic Engineering and the Other India Press, Goa.

Venue: India Islamic Cultural Centre, 87-88, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi
Time: 10.30 AM
Date: 23 January, 2009

This is probably the time in our living history to put the issue of food on our plates. There is something eventful and sinister happening to our food and our lives even without our knowing about it. There is hardly any knowledge and debate around this issue. In a sense, this is as dangerous as, or even more dangerous than the Mumbai Terror that we have witnessed creating a national outrage. But for some strange reason, we are kept completely in the dark about it.

You all probably remember the controversy of pesticide levels in cola drinks. Even before this has faded from our memories, we are being forced to taste yet another dangerous food stuff-- Bt-brinjal, a genetically engineered form of our most beloved vegetable, Baingan. Bt-brinjal looks exactly like the brinjals we buy from the market and feed our children without suspecting that it might cause health problems to all of us..

How do they manufacture this Bt-brinjal?

A gene from a soil bacteria Bacillus Thurengiansis [Bt] is inserted into brinjal through a process called genetic Engineering to develop pest resistant brinjals (Bt-brinjal). This is supposed to reduce pesticide consumption in brinjal cultivation. Sounds very convincing, doesn’t it? But, thereby hangs another tale. In the process of manufacturing Bt-brinjal, along with the Bt gene, antibiotic resistant markers, and a promoter (often a virus) are also inserted. This is extremely dangerous.

 What happens if this antibiotic resistance is passed on from the proteins (from the foods you and your children eat) to innumerable bacteria that live in your intestine?

 How will the virus that is being introduced (along with the gene that is transferred to brinjal plant) behave and how will it cause any other problems?

One simple answer is that when we eat Bt Brinjal, the antibiotics used in this process will affect us in such a way that it will desensitize our body to them, and deprive us of their benefits when required. We will have to resort to higher levels of antibiotics to rid ourselves of infections! Thus even without realizing it, we will get onto the treadmill of antibiotics.

Experiments done elsewhere in the world have found that the viruses inserted into producing genetically engineered crops were responsible for organ damage and immunity damage in mice which were fed with these crops.

That is why genetically engineered foods are called Frankenfoods, a kind of Frankenstein creation which can become impossible to control even when we find them dangerous to us. As more and more scientists start looking at the downside of GE foods, more such horror stories will start emerging.

You can listen to a number of such cases and interact with the author of the international bestseller Genetic Roulette, the documented health impacts of genetically engineered foods by attending a special event being organized in HYDERABAD on 12th January, 2009. Prof Jeffrey Smith, the celebrated author of the book will be present and will narrate the GE impacts on human health and answer audience’s questions.

The Book Launch is being held at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, 87-88, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi [Ph: +91-11-43535353, Fax: +91-11-43535358]

The Indian edition of the book is being brought out by the Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad, South Against Genetic Engineering and the Other India Press, Goa.
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