Food laws and Food Safety for Indiaâ€™s diverse and local food economy
The Government has drafted a Food Safety and Standards Bill 2005 as an â€œIntegrated Food Lawâ€ which has been prepared with the intention to be contemporary, comprehensive, and ensure better consumer safety through food safety management systems and settling standards based on science and transparency as also meeting the dynamic requirements of international trade and Indian Food Trade and Industry. Clearly, the law has been designed to lubricate international trade and the expansion of the global agribusiness. Consumer health, nutrition, and food culture are not even mentioned as objectives of the integrated food law.
PFA needs strengthening, not dismantling
The case in the Indian Supreme Court filed by the Centre for public interest litigation shows how Coke and Pepsi are violating the Prevention of Food Adulteration Acts. We need strengthening the PFA, not diluting it or dismantling it through a new Food Law which floods India with toxics in foods and replaces our strict PFA and our natural food systems with toxic processed food. That is why we must reject the integrated food law which through Article 102 (overriding effect of this Act over all other food related laws) states
The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.
In effect, the Food Safety Law 2005 is a dismantling of the PFA. It is in effect the legalizing of adulteration of our entire food system with toxic chemicals and industrial processing.
There is no reference in the objectives to most distinctive aspects of Indiaâ€™s food systems â€“ indigenous science, cultural diversity and economic livelihoods in local food provisioning. Ninety nine per cent of Indiaâ€™s food is processed naturally and locally for local consumption and sale. Our science of food is based on Ayurveda, not the reductionist science which has treated unhealthy food as safe. This â€œfree economyâ€ that serves local community is governed by community control, and local culture, is now to be regulated by the centralized rules and standards appropriate for a 1% industrialized large scale manufacture. The â€œintegrated Food Lawâ€ is a law to dismantle our diverse, decentralized food economy.
We need stronger food safety laws, especially in the context of toxics in food and the introduction of GMOs in food crops. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act needs to be strengthened, not substituted by the proposed law.
Industrial food systems produce food hazards and disease
The case of Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola selling soft drinks with phosphoric acid, ethylene glycol, and huge amounts of sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup shows that industrial food producers need to be regulated with strict safety laws designed through democratic participation. The report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee following the disclosure of pesticides in soft drinks by the Centre for Science and Environment, as well as recent studies published in a large number of medical journals have clearly indicated that soft drink manufacturers have been using significant quantities of very harmful and toxic chemicals in their drinks in order to make them more attractive and addictive. They have been clearly pushing their sales and profits at the cost of public health. The sustained attempt by the Coke-Pepsi companies to refuse to disclose the contents and ingredients of their drinks, is clear Coke-Pepsi are refusing to abide by the order of the Rajasthan High Court ordering Coke-Pepsi to disclose the contents of their drinks (including pesticides) on Coke-Pepsi labels, and instead resorting to endless review petitions and appeals. In fact the requirement to disclose the ingredients of all packaged food items on their labels has been there in the Prevention of Food Adulteration rules for a long time. The fact that it has not been enforced again shows how Coke-Pepsi subvert and undermine our national laws.
It is now known that most soft drinks contain an extremely toxic brew of chemicals which are now known to be very harmful to human health. Apart from pesticides, the chemicals which are deliberately added include large quantities of phosphoric Acid (added to give them â€˜biteâ€™), caffeine (added to make them addictive), large quantities of sugar (to make it extra sweet), ethylene glycol (an extremely toxic and freeze compound added to allow them to be drunk â€˜extra chilledâ€™ at sub zero temperatures) and Carbon Dioxide.
Food safety is a growing concern with the industrialisaiton and globalisation of food. Food related diseases have spread.
As Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University, London reports, â€œincidence of food borne disease has in fact risen during the era of the productionist Paradigm. In West Germany cases of infections S.Enterites rose from 11 per 100,000 head of population in 1963 to 193 per 100,000 in 1999, in England and Wales formal notifications of the same disease rose from 14,253 cases in 1987 to 86,528 in 2000.â€
Food hazards have increased with industrialization of food production and processing. As Colin Tudge observes â€œthe modern food supply chain is convoluted and so long that it allows endless opportunities for malpractice of all kinds â€“ including many that beggar the imagination of those who are not criminally inclined. The supply chain is impossible to police because it is so complex, and because policing is so expensive (and nobody wants to pick up the bill â€“ certainly not the governments who win votes by keeping the price of food down). Sometimes though, it is not at all easy to draw a line between outright villainy (like the adding of contaminants) from the standard, legitimate practices of the modern food industry.
On a global scale, new diseases are emerging and more virulent forms of old diseases are growing as globalisation spreads factory farming and industrial processing and agriculture. Disease epidemics and food hazards are the outcome of food production methods based on hazardous inputs and processes.
In the U.K., more than 2 million cattle were found to be infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephelopathy (BSE) — the mad cow disease. By August 2002, 133 people had died from variant Creutz feld-Jacob Disease (VCJD) – the human equivalent of BSE .
New strains of Ecoli 0157 have led to 75 million cases of food poisoning annually in the US, resulting in 325,000 hospitalisation and 5000 deaths.
The Swine fever in Asia led to killing of millions of pigs. A newly emerged Nipah Strain killed 100 pig farm workers, infected 150 with non-fatal encephalitis and led to the slaughter of a million pigs to control the disease .
The Avian flu has already led to human deaths and the killing of millions of ducks and chicken. The first sightings of the H5N1 virus behind the Avian influenza came in November. The epidemic has spread to 10 countries. The disease has jumped from chickens to humans and killed eight people in Vietnam and Thailand. In 1997 the H5N1 Strain killed six people in Hong Kong .
Food production technologies have undergone two generations of changes over the last few decades. The first shift in food production technologies was the introduction of chemicals in agriculture under the banner of the Green Revolution. Toxic chemicals used in warfare were deployed in agriculture in times of peace as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Agriculture and food production became dependent on “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The Bhopal disaster in which a leak from a pesticide plant killed thousands in 1984, and has killed nearly 30,000 since then is the most tragic reminder of how agriculture has become dependent on war technologies designed to kill.
Genetic Engineering will introduce new food hazards.
New traits of viral promoter, antibiotic resistance markers being introduced in GM foods need public approval and strict monitoring for safety.
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho in â€œGenetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare? (1999) has identified the following risks to human health from genetically engineered foods.
· Toxic or allergenic effects due to transgene products or interactions of transgene with host genes.
· Vector-mediated spread of antibiotic resistance marker genes to gut bacteria and to pathogens.
· Vector-mediated spread of virulence among pathogens across species by horizontal gene-transfer and recombination.
· Potential for vector-mediated horizontal gene transfer and recombination to create new pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
· Potential of vector-mediated infected cells after ingestion of transgenic foods, to regenerate disease viruses, or for the vector to insert itself into the cellâ€™s genome causing harmful or lethal effects including cancer.
While Toxic and GM foods need stricter laws, local, natural processing in small dhabas, small outlets cannot be subjected to industrial regulation, both because they are not a source of toxic threat and because they are not centralized producers needing centralized regulation.
Whose Safety Rules ? Whose Standards?
However, while food hazards grow, food safety laws are being shaped which deregulate large corporations and over-regulate the small scale self organized economy. Such industrial food safety standards promote large scale globalised production, and act against local foods. These laws are also the basis of the Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary Agreement of WTO. An example of these inappropriate standards was used to destroy Indiaâ€™s diverse, decentralize edible oil industry.
In August 1998, a new packaging order was introduced for edible oils on grounds of food safety which shut down millions of small scale local oil mills and local edible oils like mustard. Combined with WTO trade rules of removing import restrictions, the laws of false food safety flooded Indiaâ€™s markets with oil from genetically engineered soyabeans.
India has used the coconut, groundnut, linseed, mustard, sunflower, and sesame for edible oil. Biodiversity has gone hand in hand with cultural diversity.
The main consequence of the mustard oil ban and the ban on sale of edible oils in unpackaged forms is the destruction of our oilseed biodiversity and the diversity of our edible oils and food cultures. It is also a destruction of economic democracy and economic freedom to produce oils locally, according to locally available resources, and locally appropriate food culture.
Since indigenous oilseeds are high in oil content, they can be processed at household or community level, with ecofriendly, decentralized and democractic technologies.
Soyabean oil is based on concentration of poor, from the seed, to trade, to processing and packaging. Monsanto controls seeds through its patents and its ownership of seed corporations. Cargill, Continental and other trading giants control the trade and milling operations internationally. Because of its low oil content, the extraction of soyabean oil needs heavy processing which is environmentally unfriendly and unsafe for health.
Pseudo safety standards destroy safe and healthy oils and have flooded the market with unhealthy hazardous oils.
Mustard oil and our indigenous oilseeds symbolize freedom for nature, for our farmers, our diverse food cultures and the rights of poor consumers.
Soyabean oil symbolizes concentration of power and the colonization of nature, cultures, farmers and consumers.
The manipulation of oil prices and the restrictions put on indigenous oilseed processing and sales are forcing Indians to consume soyabean oil and thus further strengthen a monoculture and monopoly system.
Free trade and economic globalisation has been projected as economic freedom for all. However, as the case of the mustard oil crisis and soyabean imports reveals, so called free trade is based on many levels of destruction of economic freedom of small producers, processors and poor consumers.
Small farmers are loosing their freedom to grow the diverse oilseeds adapted to their soils, ecosystems and cultures. With new patent laws, they will be forced to pay royalties for seeds and will be further pushed into poverty.
Small processors of eco-friendly and safe edible oil are being rendered illegal through new laws like the â€˜packagingâ€™ order which is in effect an instrument of market take over of big industry.
Further, while the rhetoric of free trade is that the government should step out of business, the decision on free import of soyabean, the packaging order and the proposed Food Safety Act reveal how the government is a major player in the transfer of production from small scale decentralized systems to large scale, centralized systems under monopoly control.
The state in fact is the backbone of the free trade order. The only difference is that instead of regulating big business, it leaves big business free, and declares small producers and diverse cultures illegal so that big business has monopoly control on the food system.
The asymmetric treatment of the small and the big is also evident in the regulation of food safety.
While the government reacted immediately to ban mustard oil, it has done nothing to prevent the dumping of toxic, genetically engineered soyabean. Adulteration in various forms undertaken by the global players gets protection rather than punishment from governments, in India, in the U.S., and across the world. This is why the PFA is being dismantled to legalise adulteration with toxic chemicals and toxic genes.
The highest level political and economic conflicts between freedom and slavery, democracy and dictatorship, diversity and monoculture have thus entered into the simple acts of buying edible oils and cooking our food. Will the future of Indiaâ€™s edible oil culture be based on mustard and other edible oil seeds or will it become part of the globalised monoculture of soyabean with its associated but hidden food hazards.
In Europe too the food safety laws were threatening small producers of typical foods. For example, Slow Food organised half a million signatures that forced the Italian government to amend a law that would have forced even the smallest food maker to conform to the pseudo hygienic standards that suit corporations like Kraft Foods.
Need for pluralism to protect food livelihoods and diverse food cultures
Local natural organically processed food is not the same as chemically processed food which is different from genetically engineered food. Different foods have different safety risks and need different safety laws and different systems of management. That is why in Europe there are different standards for organic, for industrial and genetically engineered foods. Organic standards are set by organic movements while the standards for genetic engineering are set at European level through the Novel Food laws. There is in addition the movement to protect cultural diversity of food, which is destroyed when industrial food processing standards are applied. Cultural diversity is protected through â€œuniqueâ€ and â€œtypicalâ€ foods. Carving out these spaces of freedom in the face of a globalised industrial food economy has been the contribution of the Slow Food Movement. These standards are cultural, based on indigenous science and community control not industrial â€œscienceâ€ and controlled by central government manipulated by Food giants like Cargill, ConAgra, Lever, Nestle, Phillip Morris and Gene Giants like Monsanto.
India, like Europe, needs 3 different laws governed at different levels for different food systems based on different production processes which produce different foods.
1. An organic processing law for local, natural small scale food processing governed by gramsabhas, panchayats and local communities. In cities this could be based on licensing by resident welfare associations as Urban Panchayats, and local municipalities. Community control through citizen participation is the real guarantee for safety.
2. An industrial processing law which already exists and is the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. This could be updated to deal with new food hazards. It should definitely not be dismantled.
3. A GMO food law which controls imports, labeling, segregation, traceability etc. This is the new law that the consumers need. This law should be drafted by the Central Government, but states and local communities should be free to introduce stricter standards. If regions want to be GMO free, this should be allowed under the principles of decentralized democracy.
However, the central government cannot try to license the last dhaba in India. It will unleash the worst form of license and inspector raj. It will establish a food facism based on food mafia, serving global corporations. It will destroy our food freedom, livelihoods, our food safety, our food diversity. The proposed integrated food safety law will be used to criminalise every tiny dhabawala and street vendor who are not introducing obesity and diabetes, cancer and heart disease in our society. They are providing safe, affordable dal and roti to millions of working people.
Since different food systems need different levels of management for safety, it is totally inappropriate to lump together all kinds of food â€“ organic, industrial, GMOs into one category as is done in Def 3 (k) which treat all food providers as the same. â€œFood businessâ€ means any undertaking, whether for profit or not, and whether public or private, carrying out any of the activities related to any stage of production, processing and distribution of food and includes import, export and sale of food and food service providers.
How food is processed determines its quality, nutrition, safety. Home processed bread is not the same as industrial bread. They are not â€œlike productsâ€ in the W.T.O. jargon. They are different products in terms of their ecological content and public health impact. A factory chicken is not the same as a free range chicken both in terms of animal welfare and in terms of food quality and safety. A GMO corn is not the same as organic corn. The former contains antibiotic resistance markers, viruses used as promoters, and gene for producing toxins such as Bt. Regulating Bt. corn for safety needs different systems than organic corn, factory farming needs different regulatory processes than free-range chicken.
Pluralism of production processes and products needs pluralism of laws and science appropriate to the safety issues and governance systems that a product or production process demands.
Chemical processing need chemistry labs and chemists, GMOs need genetic I.D. Laws, organic processing needs indigenous science and community control. The response of government to the mustard oil contamination in 1998 was to demand that every ghani have a lab, a chemist and must package oil. This response was inappropriate for the scale and method of production. One million ghanis were shut down, 20,000 small and tiny crushers were criminalized by an inappropriate law that opened the flood gates for import of soy oil. We cannot repeat the destruction unleashed by pseudo safety laws in the edible oils sector in other sectors of our indigenous food economy and food culture. We cannot replace safe systems with unsafe systems through manipulated laws and rules which serve agribusiness, leave them free to spread food hazards and disease, destroy our diverse foods and substitute them with unhealthy, anti-nutritive, hazardous industrial foods. We do not need to deregulate global trade and overregulate domestic production. We need to regulate chemicals and GMOs through centralized structures and regulate local, domestic food systems through local, democratic, decentrlaised, participatory processes.
The principles of food safety used in the proposed law are inappropriate to the indigenous self-organised food systems of India Act 17 (b) states that the Food Authority will take into account International Standards.
However, in the case of GMOs, there are no International Standards. There are European laws on novel foods and the absolute deregulation of GM foods in the U.S. On May 13th 2003, the US together with Canada and Argentina challenged Europeâ€™s moratorium on GM crops and foods. Arguing that their GM products were being unfairly discriminated against, they challenge the precautionary principle in decision making about GM crops that is supposed to be embodied into European decisionmaking. Bringing this case to the WTO is another excuse to attack the use of the precautionary approach in international law.
The new EU Regulations take account of the EUâ€™s international trade commitments and of the requirements of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety with respect to obligations of importers. The EUâ€™s regulatory system for GMOs authorization is in line with WTO rules: it is clear, transparent and non-discriminatory. There is therefore no issue that the WTO needs to examine.
Many countries are now looking at the EU policy to develop their own policy. The US fears that several countries will adopt a similar approach as the EU to regulate GMOs and GM food and feed products. The new Swiss GM legislation, entered into force on January 1st 2004, is a good example.
The Swiss law is stricter than current EU legislation on the liability and co-existence aspects. It is based on the precautionary principle and â€œthe polluter paysâ€ principle (Article 1) and aims to protect health and security of human beings, animals and environment. It also aims to permanently maintain biological diversity and fertility of the soil and to allow freedom of choice for consumers. The EU Moratorium represents the will of its people not to be force-fed. It crystallizes (as the patent on seeds still does) the worldwide mobilization of people against the reinterpretation of national security and sovereignty to increase the global control of US corporations over resources and market.
If Europe had not suspended its approvals process in 1998, these would have been some of the consequences:
- The indirect effects of growing GM herbicide tolerant (HT) crops on farmland wildlife would not have been taken into account. GM HT sugar/fodder beet and spring oilseed rape now known to be damaging to farmland wildlife would have been grown commercially in Europe.
- No requirement for monitoring of environmental or human health effects would have been introduced, maintaining the â€˜no evidence of harmâ€™ claim for safety.
- Consumers would not have been able to make a choice not to eat products derived from GM crops as the new labeling laws now allow for.
- There would have been no traceability requirement for GM foods. If an adverse effect had emerged, it would have been impossible to withdraw the product from the market quickly and easily. Following BSE, traceability is a cornerstone of European food safety systems.
Under Indiaâ€™s diverse decentralized plural economy, a centralized integrated law is inappropriate on many counts. Indigenous Gur and Mithai have no international standards, they need indigenous standards. India must craft her laws for her conditions. These laws must be appropriate to the level and content which they address. One law for all food systems is a law that privileges large-scale industrial commercial establishments and discriminates and criminalizes the small, the local, the diverse.
Our kitchens and dhabas, our cottage and household industry is being put in the same category as Nestleâ€™s Cargills and ConAgraâ€™s massive super industrial processing. Domestic and local consumption, including â€œnot for profitâ€ food provisioning is being put in the same category as imports of hazardous GMOs. This is not a science based contemporary system. It is an obsolete, corrupt crude and coercive system proposed by a corporate state to destroy 99% of our indigenous food processing so that global agribusiness MNCs which have spread disease and ill health control our entire food economy, destroying millions of livelihoods and millennia of diverse gastronomic traditions.
The Right to Information Vs Confidential Information
Instead of regulating hazardous food industry like Coke and Pepsi, the Food Safety law is in effect a law for deregulating hazardous industry. Article 14(5) on Functions of Food Authority states:
The food Authority shall not disclose or cause to be disclosed to third parties confidential information that it receives for which confidential treatment has been requested and has been acceded.
Coke and Pepsi are hiding behind Trade Secrets to not disclose the ingredients of their soft drinks to the Rajasthan High Court. Union Carbide hid behind Trade Secrets to not disclose the nature of the gas leak in Bhopal and allowed thousands to die and millions to be crippled. Food and health are too important to be sacrificed to corporate confidentiality. The Right to Information must be the basis of any Food Safety Law.
In the year 2004, we need to learn from the food mistakes of the industrialized food systems. Systems that have created Mad Cow Disease and unleashed an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. These diseases of unhealthy processing are not identified as â€œfood hazardsâ€ in food safety laws, though they are a hazard to health. That is why the proposed law is obsolete â€“ it fails to take into account the diseases related to industrial food processing which are creating ill health and should be treated as unsafe.
Law for Food Facism : The License Permit Raj for the Food Economy
The Food Safety and Standards Bill 2005 threatens to create a culture of â€œFood Facismâ€.
Industrial foods need chemical labs, genetically engineered foods need genetic I.D. labs, but cooking fresh dal and roti does not need testing for toxic chemicals and transgenes. The risk and safety standards for Lassi in a Dhaba and a synthetic Milkshake at a Fast Food chain must be different. As Eric Schlosser has reported in his best seller â€œFast Food Nationâ€, â€œA typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Buger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valeratge, cognac ssential oil diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2 butanone (10 per cent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, y-undecalactone, vanillin, an solvent.
We are better off sticking to Lassi and treating these toxics as Food Adulterants under PFA rather than allowing them into our food systems, and using the toxic food culture of U.S. as the standard for pseudo safety. Risk Assessment in the hands of centralized corruptible agencies is no protection for consumers as the disease and health epidemic in the U.S. linked to over processed, industrial foods shows. Even while the U.S. is at the epicenter of the food related public health crises, the U.S. government is trying to export its Food laws which deregulate the industry and over regulate ordinary citizens and small enterprise. This deregulation of the big and toxic and over regulation of the small and ecological is at the core of Food Facism, which the proposed Integrated Food law tries to introduce on the basis of the U.S. Model.
Firstly, it sets up a coercive apparatus of centralized control, which lends itself to corruption. It creates a license permit Raj in food when the rhetoric is about ending it. A license and inspector raj controlled from Delhi is a recipe for corruption. In the area of food, corruption could kill.
Secondly, it is inappropriate to â€œintegrateâ€ what are in effect different activities and different products. Small scale, local natural food processing for largely local consumption use fresh foods is based on transparent cooking, natural and organic processing without toxic chemicals in front of the consumer. This cannot be measured with the same safety standards as needed for large-scale processing with chemicals, or for foods containing GMOs.
Traceability is a particular challenge created by GMOâ€™s. IN a law for GM foods it would have a place. However to demand that in Indiaâ€™sâ€™ self organized, informal, orally organized local food economy, every food operator will have systems and procedures for traceability in which all for this information to be made available to the competent authorities is to kill small food providers with the burden of a corrupt and unwieldy bureaucratic control (Article 27 on Traceability). The core of the Act is bureaucratic control through a licence permit raj. Article 31(1) states that no person shall manufacture, sell, stock, distribute or exhibit for sale any article of food, including ready-to-serve food, irradiated food except under a licence issued by the state Commissioner of Food Safety or its authorized officer. Roasted peanuts or chanas, and irradiated foods have been lumped in the same category of hazards. A â€œbharbujaâ€ (maker of roasted grains) and the Mumbai dabbawalas will be burdened with the same licensing arrangements as a High Fructose Corn Syrup factory of Cargill. This mix up between a small scale self organized sector and a large scale industrialized food sector is the most lethal aspect o the proposed law. Undemocratic, bureaucratically designed, corporate driven food safety laws like the proposed law destroy safe alternatives and promote unsafe industrial food production. According to Colin Tudge â€œoverall, the food-safety laws of Britain are extensive and intricate and more and more detailed, so that its becoming very difficult even to keep a few chickens or pigs for local use, or to run a village shop, or to sell cakes at the church bazaar. Men and women in suits ow with nylon hats and clipboards descend like flies to point out ways in which small farmers and traders could in theory poison their customers. AT the same time, the government that makes these laws presides over policies that seem designed expressly to maximize the spread of disease.
In England where local economies have been destroyed, pseudo safety laws prevent little old ladies from selling their homemade cakes in churches for charity. In India such laws would criminalise â€œannadanaâ€, the langars of gurudwaras, the zakat at the Mosques and Dargahs, and the bhandaras which feed millions of poor people daily in temples, the livelihoods of our chaiwalas and dhabawalas, the entire household and cottage industry in food processing would be made illegal overnight, leading to the criminalisation of our safe foods and legalisation of food crimes.
There is only one system for food safety â€“ locally produced, freshly processed food â€“ of which we have abundance in Indiaâ€™s non-industrial local food systems. Pseudo hygiene and food safety laws that are designed for the disease producing industrial, long distance convoluted system of getting food from farms to tables will not produce safety. They will produce poverty and unemployment by destroying millions of small-scale livelihoods in food production and processing.
A modern food law would recognize that our decentralized food economy enhances nutrition, safety, culture and livelihoods. We need laws to protect our diverse local food cultures from the disease causing homogenous, centralized industrial food culture of the west. Our biodiversity and cultural diversity of food have built robust localized food economies. Our skilled and knowledgeable food processes are the future of food. We cannot allow a law manipulated by global food giants, promoted by power hungry bureaucrats to take away our food freedom and food sovereignty. We need a stronger PFA. We do not need a food police from Delhi to destroy our rich food culture through pseudo safety standards which serve global business. We need society led, participatory, democratic systems to enrich our food systems, promote health and nutrition and guarantee food safety. Delhi needs to control the Monsantos, Coca Colas and Cargills, not our dhabas and our kitchens. Let the government regulate agribusiness through the PFA. We will regulate ourselves as community and civil society. We will not be ruled through the law for food facism. We will shape laws for our food freedom. This is our food sovereignty. This is our Anna Swaraj.