Random Thoughts

Food Fuzz At Maple Land

It's been since 120 days, my stomach had any kinda *spicy* [read, Indian] foods regularly. Blame it on my shift to Atlantic Zone, where anything and everything on dining table is varied-non-vegetarian stuffs. Name it - rollers, ketchup, soups, Burgers, Pizzas, and its entire sister varieties - abound and stuffed with any kind of N-V items, as it pleases for them. I would be 'potentially' scary/cautious any thing I grab in our O' Brien Mess, get doubly clarified with chefs, "whether veggie or non-veggie?".

I had it as a custom to enquire before transferring 'anything' to my plate. My only favorites are those ostracized stuffs: Cakes, Cookies, raw veggies, juices and mostly Ice creams. I loved them for the simple reason that they are not 'non-veggie'. Mid-way, in a conversation with a food-scientist, I exclaimed how much difficult it was for me, to be a veggie in the Northern hemisphere! He noticed I was eating too much of ice creams. I reasoned, am a Ice-cream-savvy. He laughed and bombed me that the ice cream I have is basically non-veggie, as it has 'gelatin' - a chemical ingredient derived from 'meat'. It banged me and I flurried to our manager - he confirmed that and added additionally, all our cookies, cakes have G-M ingredients. [I dint bothered to know about the GM stuff that time]. It wasn't a principle or any religious blah-blah to not to have non-veggie, basically I just abhor them. Well, am no more a pure-vegetarian. And then whenever anyone asks about my food-habit, I categorically, say am a Conscious- Vegetarian. I wont expect them to understand why I utter that way.

Later, once my friend picked me up to Atlantic Super Store [Grocery-Mall], I wondered at the weird size, shape and color of the vegetables, fruits they had. I couldn't grapple why so. Most of the items are of strange configurations, which was very abnormal to me. Friend clarified: They are GM [Genetically-Modified] products. I remotely heard of that, a bio-technological term, wherein things are characteristically modified for desired properties. Its a kinda cut-and-paste technology performed by genetics' at sophisticated labs under controlled conditions to optimize 'desired' [rather manipulated] effects, at gene level. Agape that the technology has come down to the grocery-market level. Then I got more interested in knowing about them. I had kept an eye on this issue whenever I read newspapers/magazines, which had at the end, enlightened a lot and lot, leading to know about the controversial topic of today's debate: Bio-ethics.

Proponents of G-M foods argue using biotechnology in the production of food products has many benefits: it speeds up the process of breeding plants and animals with desired characteristics; can be used to introduce traits that a product wouldn't traditionally have; can improve the nutritional value of products; and can produce cheaper and more environmentally-friendly fertilizers. All is not that well, critics are worried saying, G-M foods could have dire consequences to our health and enough time hasn't passed to study the long-term effects of the foods. For that matter, Canadian Health regulation is being mooted to enact a mandatory-labeling system on all G-M food products, leaving the 'decision' problem to the consumers. However, here too, most food processing industries are still strong-headed in not labeling their products. Apparently Canadian-consumers aren't that finicky about this technology and ignorant of the risks, whatever and if any.

As long as the foods and fruits are cheap, they are happy. G-M food market is operating at Canada in such a bigger scale that, the technology is not costlier, which is aided by the 'approved' customers. There is a stark Atlantic-divide too, since the dish in Europe has a different story. Coined "Frankenfoods" for G-M foods, Europe is persistently 'conservative' and went about even staging a moratorium on approving G-M foods. They aver so much that much of hype and attention been given to the anti-GM bandwagon, that GM related research had severe backlash at UK. They too had their reason - their previous bitter experience with 'Mad Cow' disease. Not to speak of America, it has the giant-galloping industries for G-M products, tied-up with Canada - they are the driving force for the GM crop development [They savor the pride of producing the world's 70% GM crop production]. I did neither understood the stand taken by UK, nevertheless, I charged, UK is always a kinda leftist-Western and they used to breach everything scientific, heeding to the Catholic Churches. Scientifically, GM is revolutionary, since the technology offers - seasoned in brief-cultivation period, nutritioned, colored, optimized foods at small fertile land and without pesticides. And since am pro-science, i took the stance of pro-GMO. But the true reason for anti-GM is a second blow to me, which I realized only last week.

The 'No-GMO' wave across Atlantic from UK, is sweeping slowly Canada now. Down the Barrington, last week, we witnessed a protestation demonizing GMO. Shouts went something like this: "Bud spud in the poison mud, riggin down the highway dying. The buds are sick on the back of our rig, they're genetically modifying...Flavor saver, the immortal tamater, swimming down the river drowning the fruits are sick, they put a fish in it, they're genetically modifying in your neighbors backyard garden" --- It said, Genetic engineering will take genes from a fish and put it into a tomato, and from a human into a cow or from a soil organism into a potato. And having all said that, and been a Canadian-Food eater, it again reiterated that, even the vegetables, I took are no-longer 'veggie', but has genes of fish or cows! - 'Unconsciously' I had been turned to a Non-Vegetarian, four months ago. I cursed, 'deceiving science'. Am yet to survive with this GMO, as Canada would not in future cave-in to these anit-GM propaganda, as though, Canadian economy is non-agrarian, this GM Crop production sales and exports stacked up 10% of Canadian GDP consistently in the last years.

For Canadian farmers and Government, Food issue has become promising revenue - However the future of GMO crops is to be decided by both the U.S and Canadian customers, who already run the risk of umpteen diseases, simply owing to their obesity. I wont be surprised, if they turn a deaf-ear to this issue. They are almost tuned to 1000 assorted GM products ranging from - beverages, frozen and canned foods, candies, baking supplies, cereals, oils, pastas, condiments, sauces,.....Contrary to the critic that Canada being always subservient to U.S, in most of its policies, it is considering an option of drafting the stringent labeling regulation and screen-testing for the GMO products. It is likely that U.S would have a perusal of these guidelines. Canada went against the mainstream expectation, last month, when it signed the Kyoto Protocol, though US refrained. Symptoms of getting more 'Canadian' rather than 'North American'.

Anyway, I decided, if there were going to be any rally for anti-GMO and against the grocery retailers, like Nestle, Kellogg's and McCain - I would enjoin them and raise the slogans, "No more GMO"! "Get Away, Leave vegetarians as vegetarians!!"    


More by :  M. D. Mukesh

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