The battle for our food

 


Where we are today…
The biggest contributor for global warming is harvest of our present day genetically modified, GM, rice and wheat, which consume plenty of fertilisers, pesticides, chemicals for increase of their shelf life and enormous quantities of fresh water. It’s contribution towards climate change surpasses that of our industrial and automobile pollution put together.
They are harvested in different parts of our country, procured by the Government and distributed all over India, even exported. Plenty of energy is spent for this process.To grow these heavily water dependent crops we build dams at the cost of deforestation and damage the environment. But what has this got to do with our health…

Let us take a look at what the creators of these monsters are doing… 
The ‘western world’/‘advanced countries’ which created this monster, GM rice and wheat, have woken up to chaos they have created and have been addressing it seriously for the past several years. Their intelligentsia has seen many well organised movements speak up and publicise the harmful effects of the modern-day rice and wheat. These countries are making amends for their people and have been fairly effective in creating awareness. To a large extent they even have the resources to address a good portion of the health care costs and other facilities required to ‘manage’ the health of the already affected. Whereas we in India neither have done anything substantial to study the issue nor have we done anything to create awareness from the research findings of a few caring scientists and well-meaning forums. Further there is no way we in India can afford even a tiny fragment of the health care cost required to ‘manage’ the diseases. Needless to say, there is no cure for the diseases these GM rice and wheat have brought.

Where is the battle now…
In any war, enemy is countered when at the border. But here the enemy has already made a place inside our heartland. It is at our navel and the fight is simply in our taste buds. We have been so conditioned to the tastes of the these GM grains in its many forms. While many of us know the issues associated with consumption of these grains, we continue to give in to the demands of our palate. The reason is simple. These modern-day rice and wheat have reached all of us. They are not only consumed directly but also in the form of processed food like maida, sooji, puffed rice, etc., which are used to make various dishes at home. They are present in almost every processed food product found in every shelf in every store in our country. In the form of potato chips, biscuits, bread, ready to cook batters, breakfast cereals, pastas, noodles, to many concoctions commonly found and consumed every day by almost everybody in our present day life.
The enemy is in our midst… 
But we are blissfully unaware. Apparently, nor do we care. We need to fight this battle. But the beauty is, no external agency is required for this revolution to happen. No help is required from the Government, no change in its policy needs to be sought. No demand needs to be made of the processed food manufacturers or the growers of rice and  wheat. If you and I shun consumption of rice & wheat and consume only Siridhanya, the war is won. The primary health of everyone who consumes Siridhanya is improved. The human suffering associated with consumption  of modern-day rice and wheat will decline. The high cost of health care associated with consumption of rice and wheat will reduce drastically. For this to happen, the demand for millets will have to increase significantly. The health benefits of consuming Siridhanya will get noticed in everyone who consume these, within days if not hours, of consuming them. This will raise the demand for these healthy grains.

What the avengers have already done…
In the past 50 or so years since these GM rice and wheat made their appearance, the amount of fertilisers, pesticides and water required for growing these crops has increased with more and more of the same being required for subsequent harvests. If a certain amount of fertiliser and pesticide is required for growing one harvest of these crops today, the next harvest is not possible without an increase in utilisation of the quantum of these chemicals because the soil loses its ability to yield crop. This also results in increased amount of water requirement for every subsequent harvest. Most agricultural lands in many parts of our country have come to a point where no amount of fertiliser, pesticides and water can any longer make the land fertile enough to harvest anything. In other words a good portion of our agricultural land has become waste land where no agriculture is possible.
The increased amount of fertilisers and pesticides required for harvesting the present day rice and wheat along with the huge amount of chemicals required for increasing their shelf life which is needed for transporting the so produced grains to various parts of our country, has resulted in these harmful chemicals entering our body systemically during the past 50 years or so. The extent of this damage has been devastating. All kinds of diseases starting with acidity to constipation, to hypertension leading to complex cardiovascular diseases, to diabetes leading to amputations and to even more complex diseases including many cancers have been on the rise significantly. So much so that it has already reached the point of no return for most of the middle-aged. The pain to the human body is mind-boggling and health care for these diseases is limited to disease management, not cure. The health care cost for these diseases, which have become common to all sections of our society regardless of rich and poor, caste and creed, aged and new-born, rural and urbanites, educated and illiterate, to even the tribal, is devastating.

Our strategy…
This shift from modern-day rice and wheat to Siridhanya is bound to happen sooner or later, with or without any effort on anybodys part. It is inevitable since it is not possible to sustain the demands of fertilisers, chemicals and fresh water for growing the present day rice and wheat. Sooner than later these modern day rice and wheat will have no choice but to disappear. Many unsustainable Government subsidy programs are presently in play to deliver the rice and wheat we consume, to our door steps. It is estimated that the real cost of one kilogram of rice is about Rs. 250, while we pay about Rs. 60 for the same due to Government subsidies at various points. There are subsidies for purchase of seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, providing low-interest loans to farmers, chemicals required for increasing the shelf life, costs of distribution and so on. This data needs to be mined from myriad source of information and it is difficult to arrive at accurately. But the fact remains that present day rice and wheat is being produced at a heavy cost to the exchequer. In other words we are paying heavily for ill treating our bodies and mind after which we go through a great deal of suffering and further spend mindless amounts to ‘manage’ the diseases the present day rice and wheat cause.
Dynamics of scale will work in favour of driving down the landed cost of Siridhanya for the end-user. Today the cost of milling and cleaning these small-sized grains is very high since machines are not available for de-husking and cleaning of these grains. Manual labor is the predominant method adopted for this activity, which is the root cause of the high retail prices of millets. Machinery required for this has not been developed since the commercial viability for developing, manufacturing and selling the required machinery is not attractive. Consumption of millets is itself too low for such machinery manufacturers to develop the required machinery.
The cost of harvesting these millets is very low because it requires no fertilisers or pesticides and needs very little water. About 300 litres of water per kilogram of millets vs. 9,000 litres of water per kilogram of rice/wheat. With increase in consumption of millets, mechanisation of the cleaning process will come into the picture, heavily reducing the cost of the biggest component in distributing Siridhaya, which is de-husking and cleaning of these grains. Further this demand will pave the way for improving the poor distribution networks millets are presently managing with. Larger and more organised distributors will find it commercially viable for getting into the business of procuring Siridhanya from the place of it’s harvest to putting them on the store shelves they are procured from by the end-user. The Government too will start procuring Siridhanya for Public Distribution System as well as for its many subsidised grain supply programs for the poor, in place of procuring the present day rice and wheat.

How the battle can be won…
Let there be no doubt. The revolution is around the corner. But, no external agency is required for this revolution to take place. No help is necessary from the Government, no change in its policy needs to be sought. No demand needs to be made of the processed food manufacturers or the growers of rice and wheat. If you and I shun consumption of rice & wheat and consume only Siridhanya, the war is won. The primary health of everyone who consumes Siridhanya is restored. The human suffering associated with consumption of modern-day rice and wheat will eventually disappear. The high cost of health care associated with consumption of rice and wheat will reduce drastically. For this to happen, the demand for millets will have to increase significantly. The health benefits of consuming Siridhanya will get noticed in everyone who consume these, within days if not hours, of consuming them.

Our weapons…
The question is will we do our bit to spread the word, share the wisdom, defy our palate, make the change and win the war. Or will we wait for the inevitable to happen in its own time, allowing our environment to be destroyed, global warming to increase and suffer ill-health in the meanwhile…

Happy Independence Day

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