Poison on our Plate | Ramanjaneyulu GV | TEDxHyderabad


We are what we eat, but how many of us know
what we are actually eating? How many of us know what food does to the environment
before it comes to our plate. How many of you know what food does to the farmer
who is producing that food? Do you know? Have you ever thought? How many of you think,
when you are eating food, about the farmer who has produced it or the fate of the farmer
who has produced it? These are some of the questions which grappled me
when I was studying agriculture. While doing my PhD in agriculture, I had a choice. Like every young boy in the 90s, I was also crazy about getting
into Indian Civil Service. I was reading about the Indian economy. I really understood
about the Indian economy by reading for an exam. Finally, by the time
I got into the services, I was selected for Indian Revenue Service. But I also had a choice of joining
as an Agricultural Research Scientist. It was a tough choice. I made my choice to join
as an Agricultural Research Scientist. I thought, I should continue
working with farmers. (Applause) But that didn’t last long,
I’ll come to that. Before I come to that,
let’s understand: what is our food? What are we eating? How safe is our food? All of you saw this news, some time back. Pesticides residues
in soft drinks and bottled water. But forgotten the next day. Have you ever thought how pesticides residues got
into this bottled water or soft drinks? If bottled water and soft drinks
had pesticide residues, the water you used to make tea or coffee
also must be having. But we never worry about it. The news is short,
the next day we forget about it. At least this must be in your memory:
noodles having heavy metals. How many of you thought, how did these heavy metals
reach the noodles? If lead has to be added to the noodles, probably lead is more costly
than the noodles. Nobody will add it, but it came.
How did it come? If ingredients used
to make noodles had the lead, then the ‘aata’ which you used
to make your ‘chapati’ also must be having. Or the ‘samosa’ which you’re eating
also must be having, right? But we don’t connect the dots. Same story when we hear
about pesticide residues in vegetables. You all get horrified,
but forget it in the evening. We all think, if we buy food
at a good place, or eat it in a good hotel, it’s safe. Food is only as safe as it is grown. End of pipe solutions don’t work. The pesticides which are
used in agriculture, less than 1% actually kills the insects,
99% gets into the water, gets into the air,
and comes back into your food. We look at it very casually. Everything happening around us,
we look at it very casually. I’ll give you an example. While having the lunch,
I saw people painting there. What is that? Spray paint. Where does it go? Part of it goes onto the board,
part of it into the air. You were all eating there.
It comes there. We are all educated,
we feel we can make connections. We never make them. We expect that the farmer
will make those connections and produce safe food for all of us. I think that’s there is a disconnect between what we observe,
what we know, and how we act. It is a serious problem. It’s not only about the pesticides. Do you know the eggs
that you buy in the market, what kind of eggs are you buying? They are haploid eggs. Haploid means they are produced
without male and female meeting together. That’s why if you hatch the eggs,
they won’t make chickens. But how they are produced?
They are produced by using estrogens. And what happens to those estrogens? When you eat those eggs
they’ll come back to you. That’s one reason today
the puberty in girls has advanced. The gynecological problems
in women have increased. The breast development
in men has increased. Last year’s India Today’s survey shows that the largest number
of plastic surgeries done in India are to remove breasts in men. You got into the situation where fruit,
which is supposed to be healthy, is creating all these problems. It’s not just the pesticides,
or antibiotics, or growth hormones which are used in production,
but also how they are processed. You might have heard, last week,
10 days, doing rounds in all the media: artificially ripened fruits. But why are fruits ripened artificially? If all of you want
to eat fruits off-season: how do they do it? If you want mangoes in May,
how do you get mangoes? You have to cut unripened ones,
ripen it artificially, and sell it. Bananas which look uniformed yellow. What are they?
They are all carbon ripened. The apples, the shiny apples
which you see. What are they?
When were they produced? Where were they produced?
Do you know? California apples,
you get apples from California. Can you keep it fresh?
They are coated with wax. Go back to your home,
take an apple from your fridge. Just scratch it. You’ll see the wax. We are eating all that. The watermelons which are red in color, they are injected with injections, color. They are injected with growth hormones. The milk which is sold, we have seen in news
of the last several years, the reports say, “The milk is contaminated
with synthetic milk.” If you want to have milk
at 40 rupees a liter, that’s what you get. We want food cheaper, and there is competition
between the companies. They pay low prices to the farmers. They also contaminate it
and then get away with that. All brands of milk sold in Hyderabad, is prone to have been
contaminated with synthetic milk. GM foods. How many of you know about this?
How many of you have heard about this? Bt Brinjal. I’ll tell you simply what Bt Brinjal is. When pesticide is sprayed from outside,
it damages the environment. Like I said, 99% goes into the environment
only 1% kills the insect. So, scientists thought, “Why not
producing pesticide in the plant itself?” So the plant produces insecticides, so that whichever insect
eats the plant will die. But what happens to us?
Who eats that? So, there are several bio safety questions
in front of us which were never addressed. What you see here, yellow, white,
golden rice, which is going to come soon. Do you know why it was done? They say, vitamin A deficiency
is a serious problem, so we will produce vitamin A in the plant. If you eat that rice, you can have
as much as vitamin A as possible, but do you know vitamin A
is a fat soluble vitamin? It’s not just enough to have vitamin A,
but you also need to have enough fat, but if you have enough fat in your food
you don’t need golden rice. In 2005, we came across
a farmer in Guntur, who was cultivating Bt Bhendi. We were shocked. I said, “How did you get it?” He said, “The company gave me the seeds.” We went to the company,
and they said, “We are doing a trial.” We went to the government. The government said,
“Yeah, that’s their seed.” They said, “You are not permitted.” It was taken off in 2005. 2013, similarly we came across cotton, herbicide-tolerant cotton which is grown. No permissions. In 2009, when Bt brinjal was permitted,
there was a public discussion. It was the only time
there was a public discussion, to introduce whether we need
a food or not, and it was banned. Sometimes, some wise politicians
take better decisions. But otherwise we would have
been flooded with GM foods. Today there is case
pending in the supreme court, there is an expert committee
appointed by the supreme court which said, “We don’t need this
for next the 10 years. Let’s wait.” There’s a parliamentary standing committee
which also said, “We don’t need it.” But you don’t know how they are
going to come into your plate. Food is not only useful energy,
but also good for your health. It can treat many of the diseases.
Food is a medicine. It can act as preventive medicine,
and can also act as a curative medicine. I know many people who are working on
treating autism with good food. Many problems which you are seeing – obesity, diabetes, blood pressure –
all are because of the food which you eat. You need to make a right choice
about your food. Second: what food does to the environment. Let’s look at the ecological footprints. How many of you have seen rice fields? Almost all, right? What comes to your mind
when we think of rice fields? Full of water. How much water does it take
to produce an acre of rice? 6 million liters. 6 million liters per acre of rice. Which is equal to 100 families
annual consumption. One family of five members
eats about a kilogram of rice a day. Which is equivalent to
a tanker of water: 180 showers. All of us want to eat rice. You need more and more water
for the production of rice. Let’s make a making calculation: how much one meal of rice in Hyderabad
costs to the environment? It’s probably as big as a whole dam. We need to worry
about the ecological footprints. It’s not just about the water,
about pesticides, about growth hormone. Everything. What agriculture leaves
before it comes to your plate? And not just that.
What does it do to the farmers? The more and more pesticides
you spray, insects get resistant. They don’t work. First time you spray,
second time you spray, third time you spray,
fourth time you drink it. That’s what we have seen
all along, farmer suicides. The fall out of such things
is increasing cost of cultivation, but the prices are not increasing. Production costs for one kilogram of rice, 2,100 rupees
as per government calculations, but today the price is
on 1,400 rupees for farmers. Today a ton of sugarcane is 2,000 rupees. A ton of firewood is 4,000 rupees. How can farmers live? The policies are also lopsided. Today, the average income
of 83% of the farmers in this country is only 5,000 rupees. So farmers have lost
their economic independence. Not just economic independence,
but physical independence as well. These are photographs which we have taken of farmers standing
in queue for fertilizers. Standing in queue for seeds. Seeds which they can produce. Fertilizer which they can make
by composting, but they are not subsidized. If you buy it in a market,
they are subsidized. Lopsided policies from government. All these lead to farmer suicides. In last 20 years, 300,000 farmers
have committed suicide. Every day about 48. What is the point about just discussing
the dark side of the picture? How much and what can we do
to change the situation. Some of us working in agriculture
at various institutions came together, and we started an organization
called Center for Sustainable Agriculture, in 2004. We started working with farmers,
telling them how they can move away from the high external input
base agriculture to low external input based agriculture. It was not easy, but what we found is across the country
there were wonderful experiences. But all those experiences
were taught in ideological frameworks. They don’t talk to each other. There are good things and bad things, if they would discuss with each other
it would have been good, but they never talk to each other. Mainstream institutions
never worried about them. So we brought all the practices together, evolved what we called
sustainable agricultural practices. The first success came in Kulukulla. Kulukulla is village in Kamang district
which became completely pesticide free. The village, which was spending
about 6 million per annum, they completely stopped using pesticides. (Applause) The Agriculture minister came
and said, “Wonderful. What do you want?” The farmers said, “Make
Andhra Pradesh pesticide free.” He was amazed. He said,
“Certainly I’ll do. But what do you want?” I said, “We are happy with what we have.
Just change all agricultural practices.” He brought all the scientists
of the department of agriculture together to see and then make a change. They said, “Sir, this is one village.
We can’t do it. It is not possible.” Then came Enabavi. This is about 80 kilometers from here,
completely organic village. The last three years, more than 10,000 people
have visited the village to know how they are doing farming. But this also has not changed
anything under government. But consumers have changed. Many people have started
understanding what is good for them. This is an advertisement
which is The Hindu uses for itself. This is a village called Dorli. Dorli is in Vardha. After Telangana, you hear
lots of suicides from Vardha. In 2005, the village was put up for sale, farmers decided we can’t do farming. They put up village for sale. We went there in 2006 and said,
“Can we start working together?” Today all of them have repaid their loans, all of them are back to farming. (Applause) It’s possible. It’s possible. All examples are in front of us. We also started working with the woman self-help groups
in Andhra Pradesh. These are cover stories
of “Down To Earth” magazine, which tracked the whole change. We started with 225 acres in 2005. Today its 3.5 million acres
in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana together, pesticide free. (Applause) 50% of use of pesticide
in the state has come down. We were third in the country
in terms of per acre pesticide used, today we are 20th in the country. (Applause) This was part of a show
on Satyamev Jayate, some of you may have seen it. In this show we had
an interesting discussion. The other side was the largest
pesticide seller in this country. Towards the end Amir Khan asked me
a question, “I am fully convinced with what you’re saying
and what you’re doing. It is possible to do it India. But how do I convince
this man who is sitting here?” I said, “Ask his brother, His brother is the largest
organic exporter in this country.” (Applause) And he said, “Yes.” That shows that people see it as business. If pesticide sells, they sell pesticides,
if organic sells, they sell organic. You buy pesticides
or other organic pesticides or certificate from us saying
you haven’t used any of these things. Farmers are made into consumers. But what are our consumers doing? Then what we did is we brought some consumers
in Hyderabad together to form a consumer cooperative
called Sahaja Aharam. We also brought all farmers together
to form farmers cooperative, so that they can market directly. Today we have 20 farmer cooperatives who produce organically
and directly sell in the market. While many of you worry
about organic food prices, the organic Sahaja Aharam prices
are 20% lower than the market prices, and 75% of what the consumer pays
goes to the farmers. In the regular market it is
just 20% which goes to the farmer. (Applause) What do I see from here? I see a ray of hope. It’s possible. If all of us can join hands together,
we can make a change. But it’s a long way to go
in terms of Government Policies. Still there is a serious crisis
in agriculture. Yesterday, you may have seen
about farmer’s suicide. Today, this morning’s newspaper,
you may have seen. Numbers of farmers are dying. It’s a responsibility of all of us. Business as usual is not an option. We need to change as consumers,
we need change as farmers. We all need to come together
to pressurize government to make a change. Otherwise, the future is very, very bleak. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Poison on our Plate | Ramanjaneyulu GV | TEDxHyderabad

  1. Great cause, Kudos, great respect to farmers and others who are empowering them, Even if our government is trying to do good due to the outdated model and insufficient support from government the result is still under performing to the farmers, New Zealand, Holland and Israel are very small countries with very less fertile land are becoming world leaders in agriculture market with their outstanding technologies we as an agriculture country detoriating day by day, agriculture supply chain model, farming technology, seeds quality, land quality has to be upgraded in india else we will end up eating imported plastic everyday.

  2. Do you have any Facebook page where we can get more information on organic farming? So that we can make people aware about it.

  3. Main thing, farmers are ready to put Effort,, but they need encouragement, people's need to buy their products or els, good food goes to foreign. We fools eat same old pesticides. N goes to Hospital…

  4. Sir u r doing good job so that we can save future generation is it possible to implement on all state of farmers bcoz they r backbone of agriculture

  5. Suggest to the food and agriculture ministries as they are in deep slumber of corruption and criminalization and Indians are falling severely sick. Would love to work with you.

  6. Non sense. Ok tell me what is the reason for Iga Nephropathy via plate ? My immune attacking my own organ (kidney) instead of attacking foreign agents. Doctors have said we don't know. I'm 26 teatotaler. Don't give lame speeches TEdx. I was here for motivation to survive.

  7. These problems are being deliberately created in the third world countries.
    Our rulers think this is an effective way to control the population.
    How do you otherwise think that India's population growth has been stabilised in the last 2-3 decades?
    The general life expectency thus has been reduced by 15-20 years on an average.

  8. Everyone should learn, create awareness more and more about agriculture. This is very very helpful warning speech as it is high time to change the cultivation system. Thank u very much sir

  9. Wow. What a speech. Government is spending crores and crores of money for researching at the moon. But not trying to make the necessary upgrade here on the globe.

  10. Bro, you are just amazing. Iam Ramanjaneyulu M, working as social teacher. Your presentation is very informative. Thanks & regards.

  11. Nice information, However sir need to update your knowledge about Egg, no egg in India is produced by estrogen use. If you have any proofs kindly share … otherwise stop making thses false allegations

  12. We face the same in Sri Lanka. I am into farming and know what he is talking. Those who gave thumbs down are not humans I guess??

  13. You have done a great job job.
    Congratulations.
    Slowly others will join you.
    It's need of the hour.
    Saved Farmers.
    Made people understand how much to be spent to produce a kilo of Rice.
    There will also be monsoon failure, labourer problem.
    Inspite the farmers are continue doing it. By hearing speech like this many are aware of it. Hats off to you Sir.

  14. Clear thoughts, making impact in society, feel like having some time with such fundamentally strong people, his speech is making us to think, he is making us to foresee, noble guy, noble team

  15. In india ministers are those people who didnt have a degree of BA. Forgot about agriculture . How they encourage or innovate.

  16. Time to understand the NEED and move to the real organic food to stay healthy and STOP paying to corporate hospitals.

  17. Facts proposed by you is a realistic view of farmers in our country and most what food we eat ?
    Revolution in agricultural in whole country should needed with mordern mechanisation but not with morden pesticidation.

  18. I had been served POISON hundreds of time at restaurants. I know very well but since its part of my secret research so i never explsined about it .
    Because then i will be able to do the same and when i do not Protect people from Eating CYNIDE then they self Eat POISON & they either DIE DEATH or HEALTH DETERIORATES SEVERLY
    example#### KIDNEY FAILURE/HEART FAILURE/HEART STROKE/CANCER CELLULAR RE-GENERATION/BLINDNESS/etc. etc. Happens.

    FOOD & BEVERAGES are GOD'S GIFT to HUMAN BEINGS . …….

    11-10-2019 FRIDAY
    4.01 am

  19. CAN you Eat LIQUID(chemical form of CYNIDE) MIXED in your GOOD(FOOD)OR BEVERAGES ????????

    CAN YOU REMAIN ALIVE if not Protected against FOOD POISONS MIXED in your GOOD(FOOD) & BEVERAGES ??????????

    THINK T H I N K T H I N K T H I N K

  20. We eat good food, we maintain and improve our health. We eat rubbish… I am sure you can complete the sen

  21. If people like him replace Modi, India will be a healthy happy peaceful country….corrupt countries are as a result of corrupt leaders and corrupt people supporting those corrupt leaders.

  22. You are a true hero 👌👍who have the guts to go out there and expose the reality of these pesticides/ herbicides ( the toxins) that their end use deposits in our food chain. 👏👏👏 good on for great work you do and make the change .. 👏👏👏👏🙏🙏🙏

  23. We all need to think seriously regarding helping our farmers and of course selfishly ourselves through them.
    God bless this young gentleman achieve his mission.

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