NEW DELHI: In a packed hall of the Indian Medical Association in Meerut on Sunday, Vandana Shiva — an environmentalist and physicist — kicked off the Anna Swaraj Andolan.

Shiva, who was the keynote speaker at the event, talked about the preservation of the soil, security of farmer’s rights and ecology during the meeting.

The event was organised by Navdanya and Shajad Rai Research Institute, Barauat and was chaired by Ajay Gupta, convener of the Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Samiti, Meerut.

Speaking to the HT later, Shiva said, “From Meerut, the sacred land of our first freedom movement of 1857, a new freedom movement for Food Freedom (Anna Swaraj) was launched today by Navdanya.”

“Food freedom is based on the liberation of the earth from ecological destruction and toxic pollution, the liberation of the farmers from suicides due to debt created by dependence on purchase of costly chemicals and seeds, and the liberation of the citizens from malnutrition and disease caused by toxic pesticides,” she added.

Overall, Shiva said, “We started the Anna Swaraj Abhiyan with a campaign on Food Smart Citizens for Food Smart Cities - connecting producers to consumers and the village with the town in direct links of safe, fresh, local and fair food.”

The event saw a huge attendance of doctors and residents of Meerut. People and farmers flocked to the Indian Medical Association hall.

Sharing the stage with Shiva was Dr VK Bindra, who spoke about the grave dangers use of insecticides and pesticides use posed. “Even low exposure to pesticides can lead to cancers. Pesticides can be mutagenic to human being,” Bindra said.

Mitul Jain of Meerut said: “India spends over hundred billion dollars in cancer treatments alone. I think if we just change our food habits and eat fresh and organic, all the pain and medical expenditure can easily be avoided. I hope they carry this message to all parts of the country.”

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About Navdanya

Navdanya means “nine seeds” (symbolizing protection of biological and cultural diversity) and also the “new gift” (for seed as commons, based on the right to save and share seeds In today’s context of biological and ecological destruction, seed savers are the true givers of seed. This gift or “dana” of Navadhanyas (nine seeds) is the ultimate gift – it is a gift of life, of heritage and continuity. Conserving seed is conserving biodiversity, conserving knowledge of the seed and its utilization, conserving culture, conserving sustainability.

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