As part of observing National Science day, Department of Social Work and Department of Chemistry in collaboration with Swadeshi Science Movement and Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) conducted a National Seminar on “Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security – Issues and Prospects” on 27.02.2013.
The Role of GM Crops and food security remains a subject of controversial debates. Consequently Policy makers are unsure whether the technology is suitable for developing countries.GM Crops are plants, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques, in order to improve resistance and growth”, assisting farmers efficiency; ensuring the access to essential nutrition, ie food security.
In the inaugural session, Dr.Viswanathan, Chairperson, Department of Chemistry, Amrita VishwaVidyapeetham welcomed the delegates and talked about several factors that badly affects the development of the technology. With his speech he conveyed the message that ‘curiousity and determination’ is more important for mankind.
The theme of the seminar was introduced by Shri Abga. R. Joint – Organizing Secretary, Swadeshi Science Movement, Kerala State. He congratulated the effort that the social work department had undertaken and commented on the evolution of social work’s concern on science. Dr.GopinathanPillai, Principal, ASAS Amritapuri, in his presidential address exhorted for a holistic approach of Genetic Modification techniques. He commented the new initiatives in biotechnology and genetic engeneering which is a matter of wonder whether it is going to be a solution or problem and also added the changes that had happened on science and social science and winded up his words, that “the genetically modified food is two sides of the same coin”
The seminar was inaugurated by Dr. C.K.K.Nair, Dean of Research, Pushpagiri Institite of Medical Sciences and Research Centre,Thiruvalla by lighting the traditional lamp followed by the inaugural address. In his address he pointed the fact that “cultivable land is reducing day by day, land is less for cultivation and the productivity of the land is less for cultivation and usage”, and so we have to be more conscious in adopting new technology and science. Dr. Renjith R Pillai, Chairperson, Department of Social Work, Amrita ViswaVidyapeetham offered felicitations. A small gift as our token of love and respect was also presented to the delegates during the occasion. Mr.Rajeev MM, Vice Chairperson, Campus coordinator of Seminar proposed the vote of thanks in the session. Swami Vedhamrita, Amrita college of Ayurveda was also kind enough to grace this event as well.
The first session of the seminar started at 11.00 am with a keynote address on the topic “GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS AND FOOD SECURITY – ISSUES AND PROSPECTS” by Chairpersons Dr. Renjith R Pillai and Dr.Viswanathan.The session contained three presentations.
The first paper “Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security” was presented by Dr. C.K.K.Nair, Dean of Research, PushpagiriInstitite of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Thiruvalla. He highlighted the difference between food safety and food security and said that Right for food is a fundamental right without which other rights like right for liberty and right for fraternity etc cannot be enjoyed. He also mentioned thepossible risks of GM foods and said that if people had no adequate food, diseases will be more prevalent and that would reduce resources instead of ensuring food security.
The Second paper was presented by Dr.SmithaChandran.S, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Amrita University on the topic “Scientific Advancements of GM”. She explained GMO crops and genetic engineering applications and techniques. She said that, genetic engineering changes organisms drastically for perceived human benefit; disregarding effect on the environment.
The Third paper was presented by Mr.Renjith Kavumkara, Lecturer, Department of Social Work, Amrita University on the topic “Social Concerns over Genitically Modified Crops”. He emphasized the three pillars of food security namely food availability, food access and food use putting forward a question “Is GM the answer to food insecurity?”He said‘India had no issues of food availability’, and mentioned that suicides are not associated with GM crops. The main reasons for opposing GM crops areunpredictability, irreversibility, Uncontrollability. He concluded the seminar stating inter connected issues and urged for the need of a sustainable solution asking the society to think calmly and take wise decision in spite of taking emotional decisions.
Discussions and Clarifications were made between the delegates and students on the presented papars.
The Second session of the seminar started at 1.30 pm. The Team presentation Session was chaired by Mr.V.S.KochukrishnaKurup, (Lecturer) & Mr.Ranjith Kavumkara, (Lecturer) Dept. of Social Work, Amrita Vishwavidyapeetam.
The first paper was presented by Ms. Arya Gopinath and Ms. Winnie Elizabeth Johnson on the topic “Genetic Modification and Biodiversity”. The Scientific approach and its positives and negatives were discussed. The second paper was presented by Ms. Jasmin R Pereira and Supriya K Rajappan on the topic “Genetically Modified Food Crops – Health Issues, Benefits and Drawbacks”. The team pointed out the Health Issues with respect to Humans and Animals,Environmental Damage, Benefits and Drawbacks of GM Crops and Ethical and Social Concerns.
Session – III
Poison on the Platter
Documentary “Poison on the platter” which conveys the adverse effects of genetically modified foods was screened. The film depicts the reality that GM crops and food is no more a farmer’s issue alone, it’s a matter of the consumers’ right to food safety and “Right to choose safe food is a fundamental right of consumers in a democracy where however, the onslaught of GM crops has been robbing the people of their right to choose”. Mahesh Bhatt (Filmmaker) and Ajay Kanchan (Director) portrays the introduction of Genetically Modified crops in India as the end of choice. The film aims at raising awareness of GM crops in the Indian market and the irreversible adverse impacts on human health.
The ethical and religious angle of the issue was also highlighted. The film definitely succeeded in conveying the message to the audience making everyone think on the same.
The valedictory session waspresided over by Dr. Renjith R Pillai, Chairperson, Department of Social Work, Amrita ViswaVidyapeetham and Dr.Viswanathan, Chairperson, Department of Chemistry, Amrita VishwaVidyapeetham.
Dr. Renjith R Pillai in his address, summarized the whole seminar in a nutshell and spokeabout the successful organization of the national seminar.
As Chief Guest, ShriAbga. R. Joint – Organizing Secretary, Swadeshi Science Movement, Kerala State and Dr.Viswanathan distributed the Certificates to all the participants and invited guests and speakers.
Mr. Rajeev M.M, Vice Chairperson, Campus coordinator of Seminar proposed the vote of thanks and appreciated the efforts put in by the organizing committee and students and congratulated for the grand success of the seminar.He acknowledged the participation shown by the all the participants.He also encouraged the students to organize such programmesin the upcoming future. A feedback was also given by the participantswherein they showed their gratitude for the efforts made by the committee fororganizing such successful seminar. All the participants as well as guests attended the entire event.
Jasmin R Pereira, Supriya K Rajappan & Arya Gopinath