I am no Lab Rat
From 13.10.08 to 09.11.08
The “I AM NO LAB RAT” campaign was aimed at consumers to create awareness about the health hazards of GM crops. These crops will soon be introduced without proper testing. This is a nation wide campaign which was launched in the city of Bhubaneswar on the 13th of October’08 at Hotel “The New Marrion”, Bhubaneswar.
Members of the Press, TV Media, students, academicians and other distinguished personalities were invited to the launch. The Chief Guest on the occasion was Sri Biswajit Mohanty, noted wild life activist of Bhubaneswar. Sri Saroj Mohanty of Western Orissa Farmers Union, Sri Prasant Mohanty of Vasundhara, Smt Sasiprabha Bindhani of Human Rights Law Network, and Sri Bhabani Das were the other distinguished guests. The speakers, Sri Biswajit Mohanty, Sri Saroj Mohanty, Sri Bhabani Das and Sri Debjeet Sarangi spoke on the occasion. This was followed by a press meet where the media was addressed and their questions answered.
The release was telecast by OTV, ETV as well as Doordarshan Oriya. The English dailies, The Pioneer, The Statesman and The Hindu carried the news. Amongst the Oriya dailies Samaja, Sambad, Dharitri, Prajantantra, Pragatibadi, Khabara, Anupam Bharat, Sambad Kalika and Amari Katha covered the event. The internet news portals like Orissa Diary and Orissa Central carried the news. The event was also reported in more than 150 Yahoo and Google groups on the internet. Many media persons carried the report on their own private blogs.
The Launch was followed by a Road Show from 16.10.08 to 22.10.08 where a specially designed TATA 409 truck was taken around important educational institutions. The institutes covered were the Utkal University, OUAT, KIIT, KIMS, MITS, IMS, C V Raman Institute of Technology, GITA, KEC, Orissa Computer Academy, BJB College, Rama Devi Women’s College, Koustuv Group of Institutions as well as Infocity which houses the offices of premier IT groups like Infosys, WIPRO etc. The truck was also taken around the city and stationed in front of big malls like the Big Bazar and Pantaloons.
There was an overwhelming response to the Road Show with around 3000 people flocking to the truck to know about GM food and its scientifically proven hazards from the handouts. More than a 1000 people signed the petition to the Health Minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, asking for a total ban. These petitions are being faxed to the Health Ministry.
During the campaign special presentations were made at the Utkal University, Institute of Media Studies, and the Orissa Computer Academy where students were addressed in classrooms and their doubts cleared. The faculty members of these institutions too joined these discussion sessions. At the IMS and the Utkal University seminars were conducted.
The Lab Rat campaign also visited the 3rd All India Horticulture Congress 2008 at the Swaminathan Hall of the OUAT where 600 scientists from all over India were informed about the science and politics of GM crops and also the Bt Cotton scenario in India. The scientists expressed their displeasure at the way GM was being imposed on agriculture.
At the State Level Symposium on Mother and Child Care held at Jaydev Bhawan, the campaign distributed 200 leaflets amongst doctors of homoeopathic and allopathic streams. Health department officials were also addressed. Most important, His Excellency the Governor and Health Minister were also handed over the leaflets which they read with keen interest. Senior AYUSH officials appreciated the nature of the campaign.
At the Rajdhani Book Fair inauguration ceremony at Bhubaneswar , the campaign distributed literature, 450 leaflets and collected petition signatures from writers, academicians, beaurocrats and teachers. Eminent writers were surprised that such a scheme to poison the food chain had the tacit support of the central government.
The Lab Rat Road Show as well as the campaign’s other activities have been covered by the Indian Express, the Pioneer and The Statesman.
It has been felt that the campaign must be intensified to spread awareness amongst the masses. Only a public movement can have an impact if we intend to stop GM crops and food.
The campaign created awareness about GE hazards amongst students, academicians, writers, beaurocrats, politicians, doctors, scientists, health officials and members of the public. More than 1000 petition signatures have been collected from the public against GE. The petitions are being regularly faxed to the Health Ministry. Though the city of Bhubaneswar was targeted, the campaign could reach out to people from all over the State and also scientists and doctors from the entire country as strategic workshops and seminars were targeted. Good media coverage ensured very good publicity and also widespread awareness. Popular English dailies like the Business Standard ,Asian Age ,The Times of India, The Indian Express ,The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Pioneer and The Statesman covered the campaign. The TV channels OTV, ETV and Doordarshan covered the launch. Amongst Oriya dailies popular newspapers like Dharitri, Samaja, Sambad, Samay, Pragativadi, Prajatantra, Khabar, Amari Katha, Sambad Kalika and Loka Samachar carried news about the campaign. The campaign, by letting scientists and policy makers know about the hazards of GE food prompted them to condemn the technology in their private capacities.