Size does matter in a bad way as large chickens prove

Express April 22, 2010

KARACHI: Through his documentary, Food Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner has attempted to lift the veil on America’s food industry that is being controlled by a handful of corporations who have been putting the lives of their consumers at risk. But what makes this film particularly relevant to Pakistani society is the similar treatment meted out to farmers and cattle in the local food industry.

As Genetically Modified (GM) food crops suffered a setback in European and American markets, companies have shifted their focus to countries in South Asia where GM food products such as corn and soybean are gradually seeping into the food system. On Thursday, the 94-minute documentary, screened at The Second Floor cafe, was followed by a presentation by Abbas Raza, who is working towards introducing organic products in the market.

Through his organic home farm, ‘Mom’s garden’ Raza’s idea is to encourage people to grow fruit and vegetables at home and live healthy. The film exposes how biggerbreasted chickens are raised twice as fast than they were 50 years ago and how multinational companies have kept farmers under pressure and how herbicide-resistant soybean seeds are used in foods. This unhealthy content has led to widespread obesity and an epidemic level of diabetes among young people, which Raza fears may soon be the story of Pakistan if consumers do not protest. “If we followed the source of our food and milk, we would realise how unhealthy our daily food products are,” he said.

“Genetically modified foods are gradually entering our food system and not much is being done to control their flow into our markets.” Local farmers are switching to corn to feed their chicken and cattle because it is a cheap grain, but not many realise how over-consumption of corn can infect the cattle that is the primary source of our food, said Raza. What people do is save at supermarkets, but they end up spending at hospitals, he told the audience. “The change has to come from the consumers, not farmers who are already heavily indebted,” said Raza. “The least you can do is vote to go organic three times a day.”


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