Over 40 people comprising students, food-rights activists, members of I-Cycle, Bangalore Bikers Club and more, took part in a cycle rally for Safe Food on August 19th, Sunday. The rally started at Cubbon Park, went through Brigade Road, Garuda mall up to Lalbagh before returning. The participants were nourished by a specially cooked organic lunch from ‘In The Pink,’ an organic food restaurant located on Bannerghatta Road.
The event which was organised by India For Safe food and it started at 11.30am from the Victoria statue at Cubbon Park. With placards strapped on to the front of the cycles and everyone wearing t-shirts which read “Safe Food- Our Right! No Chemicals, No GM!” the cyclists rode through MG Road, Brigade road and halted at Lalbagh and returned to Cubbon Park.
The movement is aiming to place before the Agriculture Minister and the Union Government four main demands:
a) That the government should encourage and promote organic and ecological farming without the use of pesticides, and genetically modified organisms.
b) ensure that organic food is accessible and that organic food outlets are available.
c) provide special poison-free (chemical free) food schemes especially for children and pregnant women.
d) ban all those pesticides in India that have been banned in other countries which have been known to cause various chronic diseases.
During this event, the cyclists stopped and spoke to people on the streets and asked people to support these demands and show solidarity by giving a missed call to 022-33010031. Every missed call is the same as one more signature on the petition to the agriculture minister.
“I think the idea of cycling is good, as large groups get noticed”, said Deepika Ganesh, a college student who participated in the event. “From a campaign point of view, this event wasn’t a large one, but this is a start. I wasn’t sure how people would respond initially, but I found that people did listen and showed their support by giving a missed calls. However, hardly anyone had questions about the campaign and that could mean two things. Either they weren’t really interested, or that they already knew about the issue being addressed.”
In order to maximise the outreach to citizens, the cyclists halted at Garuda mall and walked in and around the mall with their bright yellow bibs that read “To Join call:” and billboards that carried various messages and facts about the dangers of the use of pesticides and chemicals. Pamphlets were also handed out.
“It was around two months ago that Satyamev Jayate (a tv show) chose to highlight the problems of chemical pesticides and showed the environmental health disaster unfolding in places like Punjab and Kerala. While the show chose these as stark examples of the havoc that pesticides can cause, we should remember that all of us are affected by these poisons in some way or the other” said Kavitha Kuruganti, Convener, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), who helped organise this event.
“While farmers are affected more directly, health-wise, degradation of resources and often at the farm economics level also, other citizens are exposed to pesticides as residues in their food and water”, she said.
Two months ago, India for Safe Food was launched and today, as part of the campaign, there has been public outreach and events across 15 states at various cities, towns and villages. Safe-food melas, street plays, and press conferences have also played a part in reaching out to citizens.
Citizens who are interested in supporting the movement can join the campaign by giving a missed call to 022-3301 0031(toll-free), and by signing the online petition to the Agriculture Minister at www.indiaforsafefood.in.
For more information contact: Kavitha Kuruganti (09393001550)⊕