We wish to respond to the article "Securing our food supply with GM crops" by Dr. Hoe-Han Goh published in the New Straits Times on 14 November 2015. Dr. Goh extolled the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops in several countries, but his article failed to provide the full picture and we seek to address this important gap.
In the case of India, after 10 years of Bt cotton (a GM cotton) cultivation, the Indian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture released a report in August 2012 stating that "There have been no significant socio-economic benefits to the farmers because of the introduction of Bt cotton. On the contrary, being a capital-intensive agricultural practice, investments of the farmers have increased manifold, thus exposing them to far greater risks due to massive indebtedness, which a vast majority of them can ill afford. The experience of the last decade has conclusively shown that while [GM agriculture] has extensively benefited the industry, as far as the lot of poor farmers is concerned, even the trickle down is not visible".
The increase in the market price of chicken has caused dissatisfaction among Malaysian consumers. In the two weeks since the beginning of Ramadan, the dramatic rise of chicken price has become a hotly discussed issue among consumers, traders and policy makers. Previously, the price of chicken was around RM7 per kg. Now, at the Jelutong Market for example, chicken price is between RM8 to RM9 per kg. The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has received more than 50 complaints from consumers regarding this issue.
In conjunction with the World Environment Day 2013, the Consumer’s Association of Penang urges consumers to end food wastage. This year’s theme for World Environment Day celebration is Think. Eat. Save, which is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages reducing our food print.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, one in every seven people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die daily from hunger.
Rice is our staple food and central to our culture. Thus it is dismaying to learn that almost 100,000ha of paddy land in Peninsular Malaysia has been converted in the past 15 years, arising in increase in rice imports to meet local needs.
The Malaysian government’s ill-defined development strategies and pursuance of export earnings has brought us to the stage that we have to import more rice and food. Over the years our paddy land has been paved over with highways, factories, houses; converted for aquaculture, oil palm plantations, and cash crops; all in the name of progress.
The project has been undertaken in a highly suspicious manner and we call on the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and the State Government of Perak to take full responsibility for this dangerous situation, as well as take immediate measures to rehabilitate the paddy fields in order to safeguard the food security of Malaysians.