19 April 2006


There is nothing new here, I have been eating poison right from my childhood and knew nothing about it. The body gets immune to the slow poisoning, the way ladies used to take arsenic in the 19th century. Perhaps it has affected my body, I don't know. Fertilisers and pesticides are nothing new. We are all aware of their ill effects. Believe me the pesticides go inside every grain.

I took off for 3 days to Karnataka on an invitation from my friends Mani and Balaji of pollachi.
Suddenly every thing looked scary.

Mani and his friend Vivek had organised a farmer's meet to promote organic farming at a village near HD Kote Karnataka, and came to know some disturbing facts on how we are poisoning our body, To add to the panic we are eating genetically altered or modified food specially in the western countries. And we in India are mindlessly following them.

They go to villages conducting such meetings at the grass root level and are doing their best to promote organic farming. I thought just by washing or cooking the food like rice vegetables and fruits its pretty safe to eat. All the pesticides sprayed are washed off.
I was wrong.
There are some pests which grow inside the fruit which cannot be killed by spraying of pesticides. So the entire plant is poisoned to ward off the threat of pests affecting the fruit or vegetable.

Now the process of evolution comes into play. Every new breed of pests are getting more and more resistant to present pesticides. Stronger pesticides are mixed with the soil which poison the entire plant and the fruit. The normal farmer is concerned only with the yield, and we see the produce in the supermarket. Here in rural India the farmer is extremely poor, burdened with the loans from private loan sharks or banks and paying interest all their lives ultimately most of them end up becoming bonded labourers. Some cotton farmers committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh recently, under these circumstances it is hard to tell them to experiment with organic farming, they want sure result, they want yield. Their survival is at stake. Though the government is willing on paper but doing almost nothing to promote organic farming by offering incentive or the loss coverage to the farmer. Now it is left to the NGOs and environmentally conscious people like Mani vivek and Blalaji to promote organic farming in rural Karnataka.

Things get worse, genetically altered or modified food products may not be new to you, they are new to us Indians and the people of other third world countries. Consumption of such food products is good or bad is a different subject and is under active debate.
Is that good for the environment ?
Every fruit vegetable or grain is poisoned before it reaches us.

Things get weird from here, genes from a completely different species are introduced in a plant. I don't have much information, for instance genes of a pig are introduced in fruits. I was upset that western countries, United states in particular are funding Indian agricultural universities to conduct such research.

We Indians and the people of other third world countries have become guinea pigs of big research foundations of the United States.
They are trying it on us.
This is not another joke like the American companies patenting basmati rice which we have been eating for hundreds of years.

If we keep altering the natural process of growth the evolutionary process will one day take a disastrous wrong turn. The process of evolution has taken a wrong turn in the past, and many species like the giant reptiles have gone extinct long before humans came, and the process of evolution has rectified its blunders and keeps rectifying from time to time.

For the planet the whole damage that we are causing now would perhaps last only a few seconds and it may not wait for the next minute.
The planet has the capacity to heal itself but we may not live to see the healing process.
We humans may not exist till then.

One day the evolutionary process may decide that we human are a big blunder and wipe us all out.
Believe me we are facing extinction.

Most of the junk food available in the US is genetically modified, and are considered 'nutritional disasters' by the experts.

The organic food produce that is available in the market is far too expensive and is beyond the reach of poor and middle class families.

The big business houses are playing with your life and the future of your children for a few dollars more.

Blunt Knife
Photo and Travel Blog


Lorraine said...

I'm glad you posted this Rauf, people simply aren't aware of the dangers of food processing. I'm lucky that I've had access to a lot of information, and luckily for me, there is an organic/health food store right around the corner. The benefits, not to mention the taste is worth the few extra dollars. I hope organic will become the norm and it will become cheaper so everyone has access to wholesome, natural food.
The way things are now is darn righ scary...

mudassar said...

thanks for the info uncle.. but i enjoy eating food. i thnk if u start looking at every small thing thenu will miss something which is really important to u.. enjoy ur lunch uncle :)

Rauf said...

Organic food is still three times expensive Lorraine. Only very rich can afford. There is no insurance coverage for Organic farming here, and the is expected to protect his farm with pesticides to get the loss coverage. Things are changing. Now insurance companies have started accepting organic farm coverage only when it is certified. Getting that certificate is another hassle. Poor farmer cannot be blamed. It will take time for things to change, when organic farming becomes a common practice the way it used to be hundreds of years ago.

Rauf said...

Mudassar, you know that I am pretty reckless when it comes to food, as I travel a lot I cannot afford to be choosy, I eat what I can get and afford. It needs great efforts for things to change in India, with so much poverty and ignorance. All they have to do is go back to the old style of farming, which is pretty hard for them to understand. they want maximum yield and they don't mind dumping the whole field or the farm with pesticides to protect the produce from damage

Cari said...

I would think naturally our bodies can break down some of these things...

I don't know Rauf.

What I do know is that ignorance is not BLISS!

Rauf said...

Yes Cari, the body gets used to the slow poisoning, like our planet our body has the capacity to heal itself without any medicine. Now most of us are allergic to this or that, something unheard of in the past. This could be food related. Living in the city is just as bad, but survival takes the top most priority, health comes next. We are forced to make adjustments.
I live in a city too and can't afford organic food products.

Hayden said...

If it makes you feel any better, the big chemical/agriculture companies are experimenting just as vigorously on us here in the US as they are on you in India. they've managed to keep us from having lables on the food showing us which is genetically modified, etc.

I am not so worried about the genetic modification (pig genes, etc) as I am the "why" of the modification. Soybeans are a good example. The most common soybeans are genetically altered specifically to thrive under heavy use of herbicides. They call it "Round Up ready." So the farmers plant and spray lots of round up so they don't need to weed and we get the extra dose of round-up in our food.

There is a big hidden cost associated with growing non-organic food. you become dependant on the chemical companies, must spray, must use their seeds, all very expensive. the soil gets so depleted from the abuse that going back is hard. Here it takes 3 years to certify the land. Thats a long time.

Rauf said...

No it doesn't Hayden, it doesn't make me feel any better. these guys are not going to spare their own children to make some more money.

Yes 'why' is a good question. Farming, domestication of animals is only few thousand years old. We are still dependant on the mercy of nature, perhaps these guys want to make some synthetic food.

When the whole town is running in one direction I can't afford to go in the opposite direction. I'll die in the stampede. so I have to run with them, same food for me Hayden.

By now you are familiar with my crackpot theories Hayden. 5 satellites privately owned, suck all the oxygen from the planet. then these guys's are going to market bottled oxygen. those who can afford to buy survive, those who cannot either die or become slaves. I think we better go extinct Hayden. Let some better and more understanding species take our place. On second thought lets stay and fight Hayde. Let us not allow the process of evolution win. We can give it a right direction.

Imemine said...

Now you're talking like my brother who earned his masters degree in agriculture from an Indian University in New Delhi and his PhD from a Mexican university. This is true, what you are saying. I'm probably poisoned too; I feel tired most of the time.

Rauf said...

I feel tired most of the time Imemine, feel like entire energy is drained out of me. Then the body heals itself, i feel normal, I haven't been to a doctor from past 30 years, that doesn't mean I am healthy. I allow the body to rectify itself, not a good idea to follow, i can only say I've been lucky so far, I get cold cough fever every now and then, I do nothing about it.

What is your brother doing now Imemine ? doing his own farming or teaching ? He'd do wonders with such qualifications. His services could be so useful to any third world country.

Lord Boo said...

great post, Poms ! but EEEEEKKKK! now i'm scared gto touch food :( and i'm starved already. i'd learnt in my food microbiology that when cooked properly, some chemicals are broken down and rendered harmless. i don't know if that statement was to comfort people like us, but it still is a scary thought! i think i would turn my garden into a farm, tee hee hee. Already planning to plant tomatoes, mint and peppers. Will ship some to you, Poms. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Rachel Carasons book "silent Spring" is a very good book for those who want to know what pesticides can do to life as a whole. in fact it was this book that opened the eyes of many americans especillay at the helm of affairs. To make organic farming to be a success there need to be starong encourangemnet from the govt. there have been a few success stories but one need money to invest initailly. one cannot expect the poor farmer who have been forced to give up traditional ways long ago to now go back. he needs to do a lot to get back the fertility of the soil.
some chemicals are brokken down, some excreted from the body, but there are stuff that stay in the body and keep accumulating since it does not get excreted. DDT is an example. so from the plant to the cattle to humans the concentration keeps increasing. Studies have shown the presence of DDT in mother's milk. so a new born which does not take anything else is affected too. Sudden decline in population of vulatures some where in N Inidia was astributted to high conc of DDT, which the vultures accumulated while consuming dead cattle. Rauf we are consuming poison and may be becoming live bombs.

Imemine said...

My brother used to teach Agronomy, and Plant Pathology at the University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna, and do research work for International Rice Research Institute, developing breeds of corn and other vegetables. In fact one time he won a presidential award for coming up with a corn variety he called wonder corn.
He stopped doing this several years ago and is now selling seeds to farmers.
He never told me much about his stay in India. It was a long time ago.

Rauf said...

Aree ghodee boo, vegetable garden is a good idea, but you have to depend on the supermarket for other products. Milk and milk products are other problem which I have not touched. Run with the crowd ghodee boo, we have no other choice.
ummmmmmmmmmmmmma dee say hi Her majesty the queen, tell her your problem.

Rauf said...

Rinsila, I should've consulted you before writing, I forgot I have an environmental engineer friend. you know me, I just wrote what came to my mind., thanks for the useful details. I'll be writing more on this subject. I'll consult you before I write, Idiot I am.

Govt. is encouraging only on paper but the poor farmers don't want to take risks they want loss coverage. Insurance companies are reluctant. Back to square one. please give me some more details Rinsila.

Rauf said...

Glad to hear about your brother Imemine. We have highly qualified people here but theirs is a voice in a wilderness. It will take time, or we have to wait for a disaster for things to change, and governments to open their eyes.

Anonymous said...

our problem is that govt gives support on paper. but those who have been successful are exporting to developed countries. ordinary people cannot afford it either in india or developed country. "industrialised aggriculture" including meat industry are causing a lot of damage. been reading a book on that and its been shocking. we get organic products here too, eggs from chickens not bred in captivity etc but we can't afford to have it on a regular basis.
while we are modifying other living things for our so called "benefit" we are getting modified in turn - cancer, still births, congenital diseases, miscarriages etc etc. cherian keeps fighting with me saying "environmentalist" do not support development..... give him a peice of your mind. he may listen to you.

Rauf said...

That is the first thing I wanted to mention Rinsila, Who ever is growing has eyes on export. Japanese are most interested as farming goes on 365 days here in India. They certify that this far, is organic and they buy from them.
Most of the organic produce is not meant for local consumption. first priority is export. You know indians, when organic food is hot selling, they'll dish out anything as organic. that is why a verification team is always present to certify organic food.
What ever little organic food is left for local consumption it is
very expensive.

No one can stop the development, any development need not be at the cost of environment. Some planning should go before the project is executed. Mindless development damages the environment. Mysore Bangalore road expansion is a recent example, used to be one of the most picturesque roads of india, with shady trees ob both sides, it was a beauty. all trees have disappeared, now the road looks like a desert highway.

sonal said...

hey! that pomegranate photograph i love... looking deliciously red and tempting and poisonous all at the same time.
i cannot see pomegranate photo without hearing eat the music in my head..

Rauf said...

EEEEEEEEE Sundri Sonal, the rope is still on the table. It hasn't moved an inch, stare harder Sonal

Lot more pomegranate ( copeed your spelling ) for you here where I sing about their virtues

me was eating your friend this morneeng wainright, hannibal lecter
style, he is really tasty, sings with ease, me now eating Loreena McKennit
Have to ask hannibal lecter if he was sure what he was eating was eating organic food ??

Zarina said...

It's horrible but the only way the farmers can feed the world today.
We as a people do not support our farmers and the government/the banks and the Rich slowly take their lands when they lose valuable crop in disasters. The Rich build homes to sell on this valuable land. Mindless to the fact one less farm means less food. Exploitation at the worse. We have seen the effects of the modifications in the size and weight of our children. A few children in canada are born with a line of fine hair down their backs. This we did not see many years ago. The hair eventually drops out. But..... its a scary thought.
I better stop her or I will be kicked out for my outbursts.
I hate cruelty and unethical/underhand behaviour but it is all around us.

Rauf said...

Quite right Zarina, its all around us, same thing happening here, the city growing out of proportions without planning, creeping into agricultural land and the farmers driven out by the builders, I nearly sank while taking pictures of a huge hospital which was built on agricultural land.

State of Orissa one of the most fertile states of india, repeatedly invaded and occupied in the past, is surplus with food grain even today, most of it is exported, but the people are eating grass to survive and witnessed many deaths due to starvation., farmers committing suicide. Foreign currency is more important than the survival of the citizens, its sad.

I've been eating poison happily all my life. Most of the organic food produced by big time farming companies is exported. Small time farmer doesn't want to take the risk without fertilisers and pesticides. Any loss is suicidal. government and the insurance companies are not very supportive.

Please feel free to express yourself Zarina, fill the pages.
Thank you so much for your contribution.

Davo said...

mm, the australian aborigines managed to survive, and thrive, for 40,000 years in a country not condusive to 'agriculture'.

I wonder how they did that without the 'benefit' of Monsanto, Union Carbide or ADM ; "Nike", "OMO", "Palmolive", "Preen" or "PineOclean". ???

Rauf said...

Davo, We have Mohanjadaro and Harappa (indus valley civilisation ) Agriculture and domestication of animals is hardly 6000 years old Before that only hunter gatherers.
All we do is go back to the conventional methods of farming using cow dung manure. Simple.

Razib Ahmed said...

The main problem that I see is that in the third world countries farming does not have 'prestige' as a profession and when a son or a daughter of a farmer gets high education then they do not want to be related to agriculture in anyway. As a result, the big companies and the governmental organizations can easily seduce the farmers to leave organic farming.

Rauf said...

Mr. Razib Ahmed, actually farming is considered a prestigeous profession now. More and more educated people are giving up technical or other professions and taking up farming. And what you say about the poorer uneducated farmers also is true, we have 2 extremes here. Educated farmers adopt modern methods of farming, equipment or technology wise.They do not depend on the mercy of nature, They have something to fall back on when things don't go right. and they export the produce mostly. Poor farmer (most of India in other words the poor farmer is India) depends on the mercy of nature, has nothing to fall back on, always under the burden of loans, failure of monsoon kills them, and as you say, they have no choice but to migrate to a city and become labourers.

Candy Minx said...

Wow Rauf, I am so pleased you wrote about all these details. It is so important to talk about and share even if we cannot afford the cost of organic. I think the photos really make this post an incredible experience to read and look at. I felt like I was thereat talks too.

Look how many people responded to this post. It obviously touches us. I believe each of us knows there could be a different way to make a living and share food...but it is true we must also fit in or we will look crazy.

but more and more people are talking about food and how to grow it and share it and water too. We are communicating about mental and physical energy.

Yes,w e are all feeling tired when we don' not have enough nutrients and synthetic nutrients.

I am surprised in America organic food is now very competitively priced. It is more expensive than my home, Canada. But even Canada it is only pennies more to eat organic.

The demand for organic produce in North America by educated consummers is why the price has become competitive.

WE CAN change by COOSING how to be consummers and our money speaks to the totalitarian agrgiculture complex we all are living in.

I believe crime, rape, prostitution, corporate greed have all been born of taking food and growing it and locking it up. When we direspect food and then we will disrespect life.

Primates don't need to grow food. It grows by god and for nature, free.

Something to think about?

Rauf said...

Candy, its a great news that organic food prices have become competitive, largely because of the educated consumers demand for it. People have become aware of the health problems, and they think more of their children's future, like breast feeding has become a common practice now.

We've been using mosquito nets, then came mosquito repellants. Next genertion of mosquitos became resistant to the repellants, so do the pests. Each year stronger pesticides are used, mixed with soil. to cope with the new breed of pests.

Going back to traditional or conventional farming would be a boon to the poor farmers in India,
As they don't have o spend on fertilisers and pesticides, but unfortunately they can't afford to take such risk, one crop is a matter of life and death for them.
As the planet heals itself, once we start growing food conventional way the pests too will disappear in due course.

Since survival is still a struggle here, people go for cheaper food.
Its a struggle for me to Candy. Once organic farming becomes a common practice with the help of the government, organic produce would be affordable to all, Its still a dream now.

I don't know when things started to go wrong, is it the farming itself the way Jared Diamond puts it. thank you Candy for drawiong reader,s attention to his article. Food water and oxygen is supposed to be free for all living beings, believe me they are still abundantly available in our planet. We humans have made a simple survival very complicated.

Maya Cassis said...

gulp!I just had a mango

Rauf said...

hehehe ! first of the season ?? don't worree Maya !! don tell me you yate the seed too. you'll be showered with pesticides.

EEEEEEEEE Mangalooru ?? Wowweee !

I am not a serious guy Maya, feel free to spray pesticides on my blog

Ruth said...

These are appropriate ruminations for Earth Day (this weekend), and for every day of the year. Thank you, Rauf, for all the information in this post. It is overwhelming, but I have to keep believing each one of us can make a difference. It starts with awareness, so thanks for your help with that.

Rauf said...

It was just a coincidence Ruth, never even knew that there is some thing called world earth day, came to know about it thru e2d's blog.

Yes each one of us can make the difference. Nature has been providing us with all our basic needs. You will not find a single person who does not love nature, and now we have become aware that nature deserves a little more love and little more attention.

wildpic said...

yo rauf, this is some serious stuff about human progress ... the idea of pyramids was pathetic, but not really ... will come back. feels good to blog again ...

Rauf said...

more coming Suresh, things are brewing in my head, some crackpot theories.

The Tart said...

The red top photo is gorgeous! Poison, bummer.

What is it?

The Tart

BTW Great pics here!

Rauf said...

Thanks Jocelyn
the first picture is pomogranate

Patty said...

Lovely photos & great post, Rauf! Sad about pesticides though.

Rauf said...

Lucky are the people who grow their own food Patty