Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Giant Baigan ka Bharta makes for a delicious record

It was a grand lunch fit to feed an army. Chefs from Le Meridian, Indian Institute of Hotel Management and Indian Culinary Forum prepared two mammoth containers of mouth-watering, traditional Punjabi style 'Baigan ka Bharta.' What made this simple dish made from organic brinjal spectacular was that it made its way into the Limca Book of Records on Tuesday.

To protest the tabling of the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament, 

Greenpeace organized a cook in protest where a 342.5 kg dish was made from scratch with organic vegetables in Dilli Haat. A portion of the dish was delivered to the Prime Minister's residence along with a petition containing the signatures of one lakh citizens.
"The draft that is to be tabled is draconian and undemocratic. It not only violates the Right to Information Act but will also lead to a substantial increase in the use and commercialization of genetically modified crops," said Kapil Mishra from Green Peace.
"Our request to the government is not to present and pass the bill in a hurry. We are just asking them to conduct proper studies and research before introducing crops that can have a long-term effect on consumers," added Mishra.

According to Greenpeace campaigners, only four countries in the world -- United States, Brazil,Canada and Argentina -- use Genetically Modified crops. "We want the government to adopt precautionary approach to GM crops, just like other countries have done," said Mishra. Last year, BT Brinjal, the first GM crop to reach commercialization, had faced stiff resistance from citizens.
Lead by Davinder Kumar, executive chef and VP food and beverage at Le Meridian, around 40 chefs from across Delhi prepared the mammoth dish from 350 kg of organic brinjal, 100 kg of tomatoes and 100 kg of onions. It took the chefs around one-and-a-half hours to create the record-breaking dish.

"As a chef I find a huge difference in the taste of a genetically modified vegetable and one which comes from an organic crop. Even though a GM product might look beautiful it cannot match the nutritional value and taste of an organic vegetable," said Kumar.
After preparation, the Baigan ka Bharta was savoured by spectators at Dilli Haat and distributed to orphanages across the Capital.
Campaigners say that the BRAI Bill, if passed, will provide a single window clearance system for GM crops which is being criticized by many as hazardous to consumer health. Interestingly, on the same day scientists from government institutions, including Indian Agriculture Research Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture, made a plea to the Prime Minister to lift the moratorium put by former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on commercial production of Bt Brinjal and called it absolutely safe for human consumption.
"Considering that the product efficacy, biosafety and environmental safety of Bt brinjal was evaluated for over seven years, as per international standards, involving over 200 scientists and more than a dozen public and private sector research institutions, Bt Brinjal should be commercially released without further delay," said Dr P Anand Kumar, principal scientist, National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology.

source: Times of India

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