With government action, public awareness and pressure now focused on issues relating to the safety and quality of food, milk powder and other products, the Research and Technology Ministry’s Industrial Technological Institute (ITI) needs to take a closer look at genetically modified food items – the latest being the so-called fortified rice.
Another positive issue recently was the decision of the Ministry of Agriculture to seek Cabinet approval for a ban on the unethical promotion imported of agro-chemicals and the appointment of a statutory body to work out long-term plans for a gradual turnaround to environmentally-friendly agricultural methods such as organic farming. This is vital for food safety because some of the vegetables, fruits and other products we use are known to be polluted or poisoned by toxic substances in chemical fertilisers, pesticides and weedicides.
The excessive use of agro-chemicals has brought about a calamity in the North Central and neighbouring provinces with ground water pollution widely believed to be the reason for some 20,000 farmers dying from a chronic kidney disease while thousands of others have to undergo the ordeal of regular dialysis.
The Health Ministry- which the Minister himself says is regularly invaded by officials of trans-national companies while many ministry officials themselves are corrupt- was mysteriously slow in diagnosing the kidney calamity. Ultimately the report was wague largely because the inquiry was allegedly influenced by a ruling politician’s brother who is working for the agro-chemical industry.
We commend the Research and Technology Minister Champika Ranawaka and the ITI for the bold and patriotic initiatives they are taking to ensure the safety and quality of food items, milk powder and other products.
For more than 35 years Sri Lanka and other Third World countries are known to have been the dumping ground for loads of garbage from rich countries. With the Milkgate crisis being exposed, public pressure is now building up and we hope the experts in the ITI will be able to scientifically name and shame those involved in economic neo-colonialism being carried out by trans-national companies that are throwing around millions of rupees and adopting other unethical methods.
Rice has been Sri Lanka’s staple diet for thousands of years. It was mainly organic farming that was people-friendly eco-friendly and was able to sustain our economy. It was after 1977 that the doors were opened for the TNCs to virtually invade our country to promote their dubious products and dump their rubbish here. It was a modern version of the Trojan horse, and we had not learnt the right lesson to beware of the TNCs even when they bear gifts.
During the past four decades the TNCs offered souvenirs and samples, scholarships and sponsorships, pleasure cruises and other colour- washed bribes to political leaders, professionals or their associations and others. The country was betrayed and many in high places acted and are still acting like modern Judases with not 20 but 200 pieces of silver if not gold.
It seems the time of judgment has now come for the TNCs and their ‘fifth column’ or agents here. Those who were milking Sri Lanka dry are now being exposed. The judgment day for trans-national agro-chemical companies, trans–national medicinal drug companies, trans–national food companies and others is at hand.