Reyes works for Greenpeace's Research Labratories and is normally based in Exeter but she's just begun a year long project working with our office in India. Reyes already wrote for the blog relay last month but we convinced her to write a monthly update about her adventures in India and here's her first update.
I'm now based in the office of Greenpeace India in Bangalore, as part of Greenpeace's scientific research to develop the agriculture and water campaigns in Asia.
As I go around the city on my bicycle, I can feel the impressive growth India is experiencing. I see malls sprouting up in the main avenues and shining new supermarkets selling ‘plastic-style' groceries. These are just signs of how much developing countries are eager to embrace the western ways. And these new ways increasingly include the prevailing model of industrial agriculture and food.
But agriculture and food are not as industrial here yet, at least not to the extent multinational corporations would like them to be. The Green Revolution has brought more grain farming to India, but also degradation of soil, water and biodiversity. As the country struggles to produce more food, multinational corporations push to sell their false solutions.
Greenpeace in India is working very hard to prevent them from introducing genetically modified crops into the country's food. Monsanto is trying to introduce GM brinjal (you'll know it as aubergine but with lots of delicious local varieties) and Bayer with rice (the soul of Indian food). But Indians are fighting back. And the recently appointed environmental minister said he will work to prevent genetically modified crops getting into Indian food. We are now going to make him walk the talk!
Here in India you can feel and taste the beauty of what being close to your food means. Food comes mostly from the farm, without processing, plastic wrapping or list of ingredients (no need for that when you can just see and smell). Food is mostly seasonal. Food is mostly plants. Food is what brings people and earth together.
But food is also an urgent need for the one billion people in the world that go hungry every day. Climate change will make this worse. It is urgent that we stop climate change and work for an ecological farming system now.
As a scientist I'm interested in the recent studies that back our definition of ecological farming. Ecological farming ensures healthy farming and healthy food for today and tomorrow, by protecting soil, water and climate. Ecological farming promotes biodiversity, and does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or genetic engineering.
And that is what I will be working on and writing about for the next year while I'm based here, as well as enjoying all the variety of foods India has to offer.