The Candid Eye

September 19, 2010

Antibiotics in most honey brands: Study

NEW DELHI: If you have been giving your kids honey bought from the market in the hope that it will help boost immunity and fight bacterial infections, this could come as a shock. According to a study carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment, most honey brands being sold in the country contain varying amounts of antibiotics and their consumption over time could induce resistance to antibiotics, lead to blood-related disorders and injury to the liver.

CSE said the study busts the myth that commercially produced honey was a ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ product. For the study, 12 samples were picked in Delhi, all well known brands including one each from Australia and Switzerland.

“Other than a single brand, Hitkari Honey, all were found to contain multiple antibiotics. While there are no standards for antibiotics in India, the honey samples would have failed the standards set for export by the Export Inspection Council. The two foreign brands also do not meet their own domestic standards,” said Sunita Narain, director, CSE.

Antibiotics are widely used by beekeepers. In 1965, an Italian species was introduced in India by Punjab Agriculture University due to its better yield. But it was frail and needed heavier doses.

Oxytetracycline, an antibiotic, is widely used by keepers to get queen bees to lay more eggs. “While no checks are prescribed for antibiotics in honey, when we procure our stock we do not know whether it contains the drugs. The industry has been aware of the problem for several years. Most big industries are not concerned with manufacturing and only sell packaged honey. It is only a question of knowing the areas where such methods of bee-rearing are not used,” said Nitin Malhotra, general manager, Hitkari Pharmacy, manufacturers of Hitkari Honey.

Hitkari does not have a huge honey business and only operates in the field seasonally. “We get our honey from small bee owners, those not operating commercially. They work on such a small scale that they couldn’t think of using antibiotics or pesticides,” added Malhotra.

Narain says since there are no domestic standards, no monitoring is carried out. Honey meant for international markets, meanwhile, goes through stringent checks. “That stock which gets rejected for export since it is considered unsafe for consumption finds its way back to the domestic market. A total of seven companies own all commercial bee farms in India. The European Union has rejected Indian exports on several occasions. For this, India set up export standards but doesn’t seem to care about what Indians are consuming. However, we have found a lot of the honey is actually coming from China where costs are comparatively quite low,” she said.

Honey in India is regulated under three legislations that include prevention of food adulteration rules, 1955, Bureau Of Indian Standards and AGMARK. Anuraag Sharma, director, Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhavan Pvt Ltd told TOI: “We do not manufacture honey. We subscribe to AGMARK and carry out all checks. However, no specific parameters have been set for antibiotics so we do not check for those. Checks should actually be carried out at the beekeeping level.”

From: Antibiotics in most honey brands: Study – The Times of India

April 10, 2010

Ayurveda cooking new buzz in moms kitchen

Ayurveda cooking new buzz in moms kitchen

The Forgotten Ajwain Is Getting A New Lease Of Life As Antacid

Nandita Sengupta | TNN

New Delhi: Its back to the spice route in more ways than one. Taking grandmas gharelu nuskhe (home remedies) to a grander level, ayurvedic cooking – all about the right mix of spices and foods is the new buzz in the kitchen.
Cooking the ayurveda way is sheer chemistry: Food properties, what type goes with which spice, how to snap the time, temperature and mix right and mapping all this to a persons constituency . Its about rediscovering basic principles, says 27-year-old Kaushani Desai, a Mumbai SNDT Food & Nutrition graduate, now ayurveda cooking instructor with Art of Living.
Wrong combinations counter foods good properties while right combinations nullify the bad ones, says Desai. For instance, adding methi to pumpkin can kill its tendency to trigger acidity. Fruit-milk combines are a complete nono , replace cheese with grated mix of potato, nutpowder and salt; replace meat with a combination of root foods like potato, jimikand and sweet potato: for the same satisfaction are some quick tips.
Eating opposite to your nature is key, says Desai. So, a hot, light and dry diet is for those on the heavy and oily side. Desai also sees the time a person has for cooking and whats available (you cant have a grocery in your kitchen) to prescribe the balance.
With wrong cooking techniques, the healthiest diet wont yield any result. Recent convert 45-year-old Sangeeta Anand, for instance, always believed she ate right. A persistent back problem troubled despite a diet of of fruits and nuts. I had to sort out what was going wrong with me, she says. Healthier for having switched to holistic eating , she says, I never realised that my simple milk-tea and rusk in the morning were bad. Milk-tea takes a day to digest while the soda bicarb in rusk triggers acidity, says Anand.
She was comfortable with cheesy stuff, instant noodles and the like, says Shatakshi Chaudhry, 32, but everyday pains nagged. She never believed the way she cooked or when she ate would be as important as what she ate. Its about using spices intelligently, she says. Having once gone into the kitchen with newfound zeal, she says she needed no special diet. Her aches and pains disappeared. I’m not overeating or craving the wrong food, she says.
Realising the need for people to snack, Smita Naram started Swadshakti in Mumbai’s Malad an ayurveda restaurant , one of a handful. But with growing interest in holistic eating, more restaurants are on the cards.
Modern-day nutrition paradigm is fundamentally flawed, says Desai. It categorises people on the basis of their disease. So all diabetics are clubbed together , as are heart patients. But thats not how it is in real life. Ayurveda works on the principle that every individual is unique in how he/ she responds to food. Thats realistic, she says.
Finally, the acid test for any cook is to have boys sampling the wares. My sons loved it, says Tripta Dhawan, of tawa-fried cutlets coated in magaz , a powdered mix of melon, pumpkin, cucumber and sunflower seeds. Her kitchen now is an ayurvedic lab of sorts.

Busting Ayurveda Myths

Its banal |

No, its not karela juice and lauki. Its all foods and spices normally used. Funda is to cook right food at right time with right spices

Takes hours, kitchen has to be rejigged |

Same spices, same foods, only cooking techniques change

Individual body types/doshas of kapha (earth & water), pitta (fire) and vatta (air) cant be catered to |

Ayurveda a holistic approach, a balancing act. A meal caters to all

Spice Route

Cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon are good for all

Vatta |

Go for cloves, mustard seed, small quantities of black pepper

Pitta |

Go for fennel, ground ginger, spirulina, coriander, dill, parsley, mint, cardamom, anise, basil

Kapha |

Go for dill, clove, basil, sage, curry, parsley, oregano, pippali, black pepper, ajwain, fenugreek, cayenne





March 1, 2010

Criticising GM crops may land you in jail

With the money received from Monsanto, our politicians are now very busy in passing a bill that will destroy the very purpose of this congress government being elected to power.To protect the basic rights of  its citizens.

Criticising Genetically Modified (GM) products could land you in jail — if the draconian draft Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill (BRAB) of 2009, which will be tabled in the current session of the parliament by the UPA government, is passed.

In an unprecedented muzzle on the right to freedom of speech of the citizen, Chapter 13 section 63 of the draft bill says, “Whoever, without any evidence or scientific record misleads the public about the safety of the organisms and products…shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that shall not be less than six months but which may extend to one year and with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or with both.” The BRAI Bill drafted by the department of bio-technology under the Ministry of Science and Technology comes on the heels of a moratorium on Bt Brinjal announced by the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Monsanto Skull and Bones - The ghost supported by our ministers

“What they are doing is much worse than what Hitler or Mussolini did. Through this bill, they want to take absolute authority. They are behaving like a vendor instead of a regulator,” Pushpa M Bhargava, a member of the Supreme Court appointed Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) said.

There are also other provisions in this bill which are disconcerting.

Article 27 (1) of the bill seeks to keep the information related to the research, approval and science of the GM Products out of the purview of the Right to Information ( RTI) Act.

In other words, farmers, NGO’s and Environmental groups that have been on the forefront of the campaign against BT Brinjal and other genetically modified crops, can no longer obtain information about it.

Not only that, the three member experts of the Department of Biotechnology will override any existing legislation about GM technology in the states.

The draft bill also states that the BRAI will set up its own appellate tribunal which will have the jurisdiction to hear arguments on the issues concerning biotechnology. In case of any disputes, petitioners can only approach the Supreme Court of India.

“The BRAI bill is more draconian than what the nation faced during the Emergency ‘’ says Devinder Sharma, writer and Food Policy Analyst. “If the Bill was already in force, I would have been in jail.

Jairam Ramesh too would have been in jail for challenging the health and environmental claims of the company developing Bt Brinjal,” he said. The bill demonstrates the extraordinary hold the multinational companies have over the UPA government, he added. Kavitha Kurugunti of Kheti Virasat Mission said that this bill is just a way to silence the voices who are opposed to GM technology.

Our minsters are oblivious to the fact that the company Monsanto is the one which has caused enormous harm to the Americans by introducing slow poison seeds.Check out the documentary film – The world according to Monsanto

February 28, 2010

The World According to Monsanto

Filed under: Food,India,USA — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

Source: The Top Documentary Films

There’s nothing they are leaving untouched: the mustard, the okra, the bringe oil, the rice, the cauliflower. Once they have established the norm: that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control food, they know it – it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world. The story starts in the White House, where Monsanto often got its way by exerting disproportionate influence over policymakers via the “revolving door”. One example is Michael Taylor, who worked for Monsanto as an attorney before being appointed as deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. While at the FDA, the authority that deals with all US food approvals, Taylor made crucial decisions that led to the approval of GE foods and crops. Then he returned to Monsanto, becoming the company’s vice president for public policy.

Thanks to these intimate links between Monsanto and government agencies, the US adopted GE foods and crops without proper testing, without consumer labeling and in spite of serious questions hanging over their safety. Not coincidentally, Monsanto supplies 90 percent of the GE seeds used by the US market. Monsanto’s long arm stretched so far that, in the early nineties, the US Food and Drugs Agency even ignored warnings of their own scientists, who were cautioning that GE crops could cause negative health effects. Other tactics the company uses to stifle concerns about their products include misleading advertising, bribery and concealing scientific evidence.

Watch the full documentary now

February 19, 2010

Genetic engineering: The world’s greatest scam?

November 23, 2009

Is eating personal?

James E. McWilliams, an associate professor of history at Texas State University at San Marcos and a recent fellow in the agrarian studies program at Yale University, is most recently the author of “Just Food.” Excerpts from his recent article that appeared in “The Washington Post”.

James E.McWilliams : Image Courtesy - http://www.txstate.edu/

I gave a talk in South Texas recently on the environmental virtues of a vegetarian diet. As you might imagine, the reception was chilly. In fact, the only applause came during the Q&A period when a member of the audience said that my lecture made him want to go out and eat even more meat. “Plus,” he added, “what I eat is my business — it’s personal.”

I’ve been writing about food and agriculture for more than a decade. Until that evening, however, I’d never actively thought about this most basic culinary question: Is eating personal?

We know more than we’ve ever known about the innards of the global food system. We understand that food can both nourish and kill. We know that its production can both destroy and enhance our environment. We know that farming touches every aspect of our lives — the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we need.

So it’s hard to avoid concluding that eating cannot be personal. What I eat influences you. What you eat influences me. Our diets are deeply, intimately and necessarily political.

This realization changes everything for those who avoid meat. As a vegetarian I’ve always felt the perverse need to apologize for my dietary choice. It inconveniences people. It smacks of self-righteousness. It makes us pariahs at dinner parties. But the more I learn about the negative impact of meat production, the more I feel that it’s the consumers of meat who should be making apologies.

Here’s why: The livestock industry as a result of its reliance on corn and soy-based feed accounts for over half the synthetic fertilizer used in the United States, contributing more than any other sector to marine dead zones. It consumes 70 percent of the water in the American West — water so heavily subsidized that if irrigation supports were removed, ground beef would cost $35 a pound. Livestock accounts for at least 21 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions globally — more than all forms of transportation combined. Domestic animals — most of them healthy — consume about 70 percent of all the antibiotics produced. Undigested antibiotics leach from manure into freshwater systems and impair the sex organs of fish.

It takes a gallon of gasoline to produce a pound of conventional beef. If all the grain fed to animals went to people, you could feed China and India. That’s just a start.

Meat that’s raised according to “alternative” standards (about 1 percent of meat in the United States) might be a better choice but not nearly as much so as its privileged consumers would have us believe. “Free-range chickens” theoretically have access to the outdoors. But many “free-range” chickens never see the light of day because they cannot make it through the crowded shed to the aperture leading to a patch of cement.

“Grass-fed” beef produces four times the methane — a greenhouse gas 21 times as powerful as carbon dioxide — of grain-fed cows, and many grass-fed cows are raised on heavily fertilized and irrigated grass. Pastured pigs are still typically mutilated, fed commercial feed and prevented from rooting — their most basic instinct besides sex.

Is meat eating, a cause for Global warming?

Issues of animal welfare are equally implicated in all forms of meat production. Domestic animals suffer immensely, feel pain and may even be cognizant of the fate that awaits them. In an egg factory, male chicks (economically worthless) are summarily run through a grinder. Pigs are castrated without anesthesia, crated, tail-docked and nose-ringed. Milk cows are repeatedly impregnated through artificial insemination, confined to milking stalls and milked to yield 15 times the amount of milk they would produce under normal conditions. When calves are removed from their mothers at birth, the mothers mourn their loss with heart-rending moans.

Then comes the slaughterhouse, an operation that’s left with millions of pounds of carcasses — deadstock — that are incinerated or dumped in landfills. (Rendering plants have taken a nose dive since mad cow disease.)

Now, if someone told you that a particular corporation was trashing the air, water and soil; causing more global warming than the transportation industry; consuming massive amounts of fossil fuel; unleashing the cruelest sort of suffering on innocent and sentient beings; failing to recycle its waste; and clogging our arteries in the process, how would you react? Would you say, “Hey, that’s personal?” Probably not. It’s more likely that you’d frame the matter as a dire political issue in need of a dire political response.

Vegetarianism is not only the most powerful political response we can make to industrialized food. It’s a necessary prerequisite to reforming it. To quit eating meat is to dismantle the global food apparatus at its foundation.

Agribusiness has been vilified of late by muckraking journalists, activist filmmakers and sustainable-food advocates. We know that something has to be done to save our food from corporate interests. But I wonder — are we ready to do what must be done? Sure, we’ve been inundated with ideas: eat local, vote with your fork, buy organic, support fair trade, etc. But these proposals all lack something that every successful environmental movement has always placed at its core: genuine sacrifice.

Until we make that leap, until we create a culinary culture in which the meat-eaters must do the apologizing, the current proposals will be nothing more than gestures that turn the fork into an empty symbol rather than a real tool for environmental change.

September 21, 2009

Consumers reject GM food, demand Nestlé India go GM free.

New Delhi: 16th September 2009: More than 500 consumers today pledged to return their Nestlé products to the company’s corporate office in Rajiv Chowk today, even as Nestlé continued to deny the consumers their right to GM free products. Greenpeace volunteers, who acted on behalf of more than 20,000 consumers across the country, placed the rejected products marked with question marks, into larger than life nests in front of the office building, parodying Nestlé’s well known logo. This symbolized questionable contents of Nestlé products owing to the company’s failure to have a GM free policy.

MG_4999-150x150

Greenpeace India released the Safe Food Guide in New Delhi recently ranking 17 major food companies as ‘green’ or ‘red’ on the basis of their policies regarding the use of genetically modified ingredients. Only two companies Nestlé, and Hindustan Unilever had indicated a policy which favoured the use of GMOs.

Hindustan Unilever, which was initially slotted in the ‘red’ list, has since clarified to Greenpeace that it does not use any GM ingredients in its products. This clarification by HUL has made Nestlé, with brands like Maggi, Cerelac, Lactogen, Kitkat and Nescafe, under its umbrella, one of the big brands, openly supporting the use of GM ingredients in its products.

As a result of the pro GM food position indicated by Nestlé, thousands of consumers across the country have started demanding that Nestlé, in sync with its policies in the European Union and Russia, should go GM free in India as well. Over 21000 emails have been sent to the Chairman and Managing Director of Nestlé India, Mr. Antonio Waszyk demanding that Nestlé India go GM free.

Last week, Greenpeace in China discovered Nestlé’s baby food products contaminated with GM ingredients. Like India, Nestlé has had a history of disregard to consumers in China. Soon after the news of this scandal, over a 100 people called the Nestlé India head office demanding a GM free policy from the company.

“Overwhelming public opinion shows that consumers reject GM food as unsafe and unnatural. Nestlé needs to respect consumer choice and declare itself GM free like it has in Europe and Russia. Anything else will be merely a manifestation of double standards. If MTR foods can, why can’t Nestlé” said Jai Krishna, campaigner with Greenpeace India.

(1) Of the 17 major food brands, 6 are in the ‘green’ list. 11 companies are in the red list. In the green list, MTR is the only company to have a policy rejecting GMOs in their food products. For the entire guide log on to http://www.safefoodnow.org

(2) http://www.greenpeace.org/china/en/news/nestle-baby-food
India has not approved any GM food crops as of today. However there are more than 11 food crops which have been under hundreds of acres of field trials. In addition to this, unauthorized imports of packaged foods and even grains, makes the threat of contamination a reality.

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