| Food and civil supplies minister Shyam Rajak inaugurates the safe food campaign in Patna on Sunday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
The Bihar chapter of India for Safe Food on Sunday launched a drive in the state to make people aware of the risk of having food laced with harmful chemical and encourage organic farming.
From doctors to environmentalists, social activists to students, representatives from all walks of life attended the event to extend support to the national campaign. Even politicians were not left behind. While food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak was the chief guest of the programme, state BJP chief C.P. Thakur too attended the event.
Pankaj Bhushan, the national convener of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, said: “On June 24, the television show Satyamev Jayate anchored by Aamir Khan picked up a critical theme, ‘Toxic food-poison on our plate’. The episode showcased how our food and water are being contaminated by pesticides, which have been promoted by vested interests as necessary for better agriculture output. The reality is that we don’t need these pesticides and its use is detrimental to health. The solution is to adopt organic/ecological/natural farming. Through our campaign, we aim to motivate farmers for organic farming and discourage consumers from buying chemical-laced vegetables and food,” Bhushan added that in the coming days Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture members will organise a number of programmes, including nukkad natak (street theatre), signature campaigns, exhibition on organic farming products and others to ensure that the message reaches people.
Bhushan also talked about the website www.Indiaforsafefood.in. “People who want to show their support to this campaign can click on this portal. We have formed a petition format on this website in which people can submit their appeal to the Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar requesting him to ban the 67 pesticides that are already banned in other countries. One can get to know the latest news on organic and toxic farming on this site. We would update this website from time to time. One can also call on the number 022-33010031 to know about the latest updates of this campaign,” he added.
Rajak said there is a need of promoting organic farming.
“Besides, consumers should reject chemical-laced vegetables and food. Everyone should take an oath that they will not buy chemical-laced food. It will make a huge difference,” he said adding that his government would take action against those found to have adulterated food material.
Dr A. Nath, head of Mahavir Cancer Sansthan research centre said that during her research she found that even ponds in Bihar had become toxic.
“I found pesticides in fish muscles and cow milk,” she said, talking about the contamination of food in the state.
Thakur said strict laws need to be framed. “At present, the maximum punishment for the guilty person is six months jail, which is very less. Only strong laws can stop the practice,” he said.
Others present at the event included Dr Ajay Kumar, former president of Bihar branch of Indian Medical Association, Dr Diwakar Tejaswi, State Human Rights Commission member Rajendra Prasad and others.
The Bihar leg of the national campaign, India for Safe Food, was organised by Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture and launched at A.N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies.