Know the Hubbub on GM Mustard

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is a body that evaluates genetically modified crops. On May 11, 2017 GEAC recommended the commercial use of GM mustard. GEAC is the apex body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests for ensuring ‘Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989′, under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Ever since the advent of the GEAC decision many sections of the Indian public – students, farmers, and environmental activists are once again up against arms to protest against the Ministry of Environment regarding approval given for commercial use of genetically modified mustard. It is to be noted that GEAC has given approval for GM Mustard after it was earlier rejected in 2002.

The nay-sayers state that GM mustard is inferior in yields compared to non-genetically modified organism Indian hybrid. Further the approval seems to have been carried out under pressure from Monsanto and Bayer and so GM mustard is actually Bayer mustard actually, especially if you look at their history, traits and patents of component technologies. GEAC is thus misleading the nation in that GM technology in mustard is to increase yields through producing a hybrid.

The real truth is that GMO mustard is herbicide resistant mustard that is resistant to Bayer herbicide glufosinate, which is established to be a neurotoxin. Further, Bayer has hundreds of patents related to GMO mustard. Now that Bayer has merged with Monsanto it can very well be termed Monsanto/Bayer mustard. So while on the one hand these companies are corrupting the regulatory agencies, on the other hand they are also trying to influence the courts to undermine the patent laws.

Article 3 J of the Indian Patent Act excludes seeds, plants and animals from being patented. Monsanto and Bayer are pushing GMOs to collect royalties from seeds. Actually they are doing two things simultaneous. One, pushing GMOs and second, attacking patent laws. And all the while their real intention is to patent seeds. To this end they are pushing a failed and toxic technology of genetic engineering on Indian farmers and citizens.

Experts tell us that GM Mustard is dangerous because India’s monopoly on its own mustard seeds would be gone, exactly like Monsanto took over monopoly on cotton seeds. The second danger is the spread of toxins in our agriculture that will occur through the spread of the herbicide glufosinate as well as through genetic modification by inherent toxicity.

More and more people are now beginning to understand that the assessment done by GEAC is a sham and that no feeding studies were done either on animals or humans. In fact there is no blood analysis available of the animals. GMO will cause devastation to not only biodiversity but also irreversibly impact Indian native mustard, bees, soil and organisms. We have witnessed this in the case of Bt Cotton ever since these corporations came to India, leading to the cycle of rural debt that pushed countless farmers to commit suicide.

The fact remains that the GEAC approval is only a recommendation. The government, especially the environment ministry has still to decide whether to accept the suggestion or not. More importantly agriculture is a state subject and bio-safety laws of India require state approval. All states producing mustard can maintain their commitment and say no to GM mustard. This is precisely how Bt Brinjal was stopped from being planted in India. Likewise a Sarson Satyagraha by farmers and citizens can push the movement to set things right.

‘Sarson Satyagraha’ comprises of a broad forum that includes numerous NGOs, farmers, consumers, scientists and others who are all resisting the approval of GM mustard in India. They condemn the recent approval to the herbicide tolerant GM Mustard for commercial cultivation of genetically modified Mustard. Once the crop is used for commercial purposes, it cannot be called back because of cross pollination and its impact on health that can be manifold, although as yet there is no scientific evidence on this. The protesters are challenging the ministry for a public debate on the use of such genetically modified crops. May 20 will see a global March Against Monsanto in several cities, including in India.




HERD ORGANIC FARMS Organic Water Melons to Beat the Summer Heat

HERD Organic Farms is offering a bumper produce of its 100 percent organic water melons that are harvesting to peak season now. This super fruit is so healthy you should be eating it every day – all through summer. Watermelons are 92 percent just water. It’s a great food item if you want to lose weight. Also it’s a diuretic that helps reduce belly bloat. Lycopene found in water melons prevents prostate cancer.

Low in fat content water melon has good amount of Vitamin C it and has very little sugar. Even as you enjoy bite after bite of the delicious fruit you would be ingesting essential nutrients that include vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids with just a dash of potassium too. The fruit reduces depression and oxidative stress of brain thereby curbing neurological disorders.

Not many are aware that most of the fruit is entirely edible. After you have enjoyed eating the melon cubes or balls whichever way you prefer them, you might want to make juice with the left over deep red portions that you might not have been able to finish off. It is advisable never to keep a cut water melon for too long. Its best finished off in one go.

Skin off the water melons hard green covering to carve out its soft white rind that is also edible. Make kimchi, pickles or add it to stir fry vegetables. The seeds have a nutty flavor and you may dry roast them and add to food items. Look for interesting recipes on the internet that you will love to experiment with and you may then never throw away the rind portions ever.

You can make a delicious juice by adding a carrot, apple, ginger and lemon that you will enjoy in the summertime. This combination drink will want you to simply keep sipping it all up. Cool, refreshing glasses of watermelon juice are the epitome of summertime delight. A word of caution here – ideally no food should be taken 30 minutes before or after eating melons. The saying goes ‘Eat melon alone or leave it alone, because it will make your stomach groan’.

Here are 6 surprising facts about this ubiquitous summertime fruit:

  • Watermelon has more lycopene than raw tomatoes.
  • Watermelon juice may relieve muscle soreness.
  • Watermelon is a fruit and a vegetable.
  • You can eat watermelon rind and seeds.
  • Water melon is mostly just water.
  • Water melon helps reduce high blood pressure.

Beejotsav Festival 2017 – All Things Organic!


HERD Organic Farms undertook organic farming to test its viability first hand. We are keen to find out ways to improve agrarian incomes and enhance livelihood options for a waning agricultural economy. We want to see that organic farming is a sustainable and profitable occupation. We work on farmlands lying 60 km from the city, hand in hand with rural farmers of Maharashtra covering initially an experimental 42 acres of land. In time we hope to inspire neighboring farmers to join in with organic farming practices through collective action, after we have established a fair supply chain.

HERD Organic Farms hand-holds all efforts to promote organic farming and is open to the idea of supporting like minded partnerships – formal and informal. We are developing good practices in strategic traditional farming areas that can be emulated by other farmers. We are also planning to evolve into a resource organization for effective knowledge management at the organizational level. By documenting our farming practices we hope to develop resource material and also to provide consultancy services.

It is now that time of the year again when we pitch in with Beejotsav to bring together organic farmers, producers, retailers, advocates and this time round chefs and cooks too for Beejotsav 2017 as we all band together to celebrate all things organic at the annual organic farmer’s festival in Nagpur. We will be putting together a wide range of organic produce for organic lovers of the city. For the first time visitors can enjoy eating organic cooked dishes that will be show cased as healthy specialty food. The event is a partnership between keen organic enthusiasts, farmers and getting good support from organic food lovers.

The celebration which is dubbed as one of its kind in Nagpur is the biggest in Vidarbha and widely known to feature different organic products ranging from seeds, grains, vegetables, fruits, to organic fresh, cooked food items as well as plants, organic cloth and a lot more that we will have to wait to discover! Organic inputs from over 40 exhibitors will be in place by small farmers, NGO’s, village people’s organization, and supporters and advocates for organic produce. This is the fifth year in a row that Beejotsav Festival is being held in succession. It has grown in strength from past years and involved lot more people than before.

Beejotsav 2017 will have you appreciating exquisite muslin fabric which is included in the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This will be another first for the festival to be introducing organic muslin that is as yet being created in mud houses without use of power of fossil fuels and maintaining the same superior quality. Each piece of Muslin is a masterpiece to behold and visitors will be delighted to see and buy it. So apart from eating healthy, visitors will also get to buy and wear healthy too! Tula India will also be exhibiting its eco-friendly apparel line in Beejotsav 2017.

Started initially with the intention of highlighting concern for traditional seed conservation methods, Beejotsav 2017 now takes on much more under its umbrella. However privatization of the seed sector and poor regulation over seed control has led to valuable seed varieties being lost to the greed of the corporate sector. This creates unrest for traditional cultivation and farming practices and so seeds remain a critical resource under threat.

Beejotsav stands by the concept of seed sovereignty and security as a prerequisite for livelihood security of marginalized farmers. Also various traditional varieties of crops like oilseeds, pulses, cash crops, fruits, vegetables are becoming extinct and inaccessible. Beejotsav works towards reversing this trend toward extinction by highlighting local crop varieties that ensure maintenance of the diversity.

Beejotsav 2017 festival will therefore begin with an invocation to traditional seeds on the first day of the organic fair! It will be a sight to behold as traditional seeds will be venerated in age old rituals. Come one – come all, to celebrate all things organic, all things sustainable and all things healthy! Come have healthy fun at this annual exhibition cum sale of wholesome, healthy and natural farm produce.


HERD Organic Farms – Reaping Rich Rewards


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HERD Organic Farms is a safe haven in today’s over-processed world! Specializing in cultivating genuinely organic produce – vegetables, fruits and the queen of spices –turmeric, HERD Organic Farms is nurtured with the utmost care and concern by a handpicked team of experts for growing natural produce. HERD Organic Farms remain committed to healthy produce inside out!

The mission is to provide honest-to-goodness, natural produce for discerning patrons keen on authentic organic foods. Each and every product goes through painstaking care at every stage of its growth with the kind of nurturance reserved for quality produce. Pesticide free, GMO free and certified organic produce is now the hallmark of HERD Organic Farms produce.

Take for instance our turmeric powder that is processed into fine powder before filling up 100 grams and 500 grams bottles. The dry rhizomes of organic Waigaon turmeric are grown on 10 acres of farmland. Since turmeric is an important spice since times immemorial, it was one product that HERD Farms was keen on providing to organic lovers. Its inherent qualities make it one of the best spices in the world. HERD Organic Turmeric is really – ‘sone pe sohaga’ meaning ‘icing on the cake’!

And then HERD Organic Farms grows plentiful vegetables that are a real delight to behold! Fresh deep green capsicums, firm red tomatoes, yellow pumpkins, crispy okras, crunchy cucumbers and bitter gourd for the love of it! Or check out the fruits that grow in such profusion –   unique flavorful guavas, mellow sweet limes, delicious mangoes, fleshy custard apples and delightful Mandarin oranges.

Oranges as we all know are the signature fruit of the region. HERD Organic Farms have planted 10 acres of Mandarin Oranges. The lush green orange orchard bears small citrus trees that are being cultivated through organic farming. Our delicious and juicy oranges contain an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and are truly delicious.

HERD Organic Farms produce is making waves in Nagpur. The produce carted directly from the farms lying 60 kms from the city bear the rural imprint in taste and flavor. We market it for our genuine clients keen on the finest organic products on the market. All products are vetted by the in-house team of professionals ensuring the best produce.

Our produce is genuinely organic from start to finish. This is because we believe in keeping chemicals off your plate. We are proud to provide you with alternative to regular conventionally grown foods. So dig in when you get HERD Organic Farm Produce. Eat it without any reservations. Know that no chemical has been sprayed at any stage of the produce and that you will never ingest pesticides or chemicals when you eat HERD Organic Farms produce. In fact you will receive more vitamins and minerals in the same volume of food!


Curcuma longa – Turmeric or Haldi


Turmeric is really a bulb or tuber (rhizome) not unlike ginger. This underground stem is usually available as yellow powdered condiment in stores. The yellowish-brown underground stem has a deep orange inside that turns bright yellow once processed. To turn it into fine powder used in kitchens, the bulbous stems are boiled for 30–45 minutes and then dried in hot ovens after which they get ground into a deep-orange-yellow powder.

Turmeric is a traditional spice used since times immemorial in the Indian subcontinent. Its main component is curcumin that has medicinal properties. So besides being used to color food it also lends medicinal additives to our dishes. Curcuma longa the plant offers its roots for the wonderful and aromatic spice that flavors our curries with its distinctive indescribable taste that may at best be described as mildly peppery.

The chemical compounds of turmeric known as curcuminoids include curcumin diferuloylmethane, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. The most minutely studied compound remains curcumin which constitutes on average about 3.14% of powdered turmeric. However there are variations in curcumin content depending on species of Curcuma longa. Additionally  turmeric has important volatile oils like turmerone, atlantone, and zingiberene. Other general components include sugars, proteins, and resins.

Turmeric is largely used in the form of rhizome powder. In some regions, especially in Maharashtra, Goa, Konkan, and Andhra Pradesh turmeric leaves are used to wrap and cook food. This happens around areas where turmeric is grown and where leaves can be freshly picked. Turmeric leaves impart their distinct flavor. Typically the root is used in its dried, powdered form. Often turmeric is also used fresh, like ginger, especially in East Asian cuisine in the form of pickles.

In medieval Europe turmeric was commonly known as Indian saffron since it became an alternative to the expensive saffron. Although in India it is readily available even so the powdered form may be subject to adulteration. It may include toxic, cheaper agents similar in color like lead (II, IV) oxide that gives adulterated turmeric its orange-red color instead of original gold-yellow. Another common adulterant could be metanil yellow or acid yellow 36 that is an illegal dye used in foods.

Turmeric is often known as the Queen of Spices. Its distinct aroma and golden color is loved by true gourmands. As per the Journal of American Chemical Society, turmeric contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains many healthy nutrients like protein, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. It is said turmeric can inherently treat a wide variety of health problems.

Here are ten best known benefits of Turmeric:

  • Turmeric Contains Bioactive Compounds with Powerful Medicinal Properties.
  • Curcumin is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound.
  • Turmeric Dramatically Increases The Antioxidant Capacity of The Body.
  • Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Linked to Improved Brain Function and a Lower Risk of Brain Diseases.
  • Curcumin Leads to Various Improvements that Lower Risk of Heart Disease
  • Turmeric Can Help Prevent (And Perhaps Even Treat) Cancer.
  • Curcumin May be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Arthritis Patients Respond Very Well to Curcumin Supplementation.
  • Studies Show That Curcumin Has Incredible Benefits against Depression.
  • Curcumin May Help Delay Aging and Fight Age-Related Chronic Diseases

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HERD Organic Farms Chargaon

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Two years back Herd Organic Farms began cultivating and producing organic produce. Looking to the fact that organic agri-produce needed a shot in the arm to boost both adoption of cultivation practices and adaption to modify eating habits, HERD Organic Farms at Chargaon became part of the revival of traditional agricultural practices, to revert back to as they were prior to advent of chemical fertilizers.

The organic agriculture scene today may not be exploding with organic produce but its demand and popularity is certainly rising steadily. More and more people are getting into the organic food fold and they do so because it is safer, healthier and tastier. Additionally it is better for the environment too – for the soil, land, water and the well-being of animals.

Organic food actually focuses on the process of how such crops are produced. They are grown without the use of artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms. And to be recognized as organic a product must be free of artificial food additives, so no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, coloring, or flavoring. In fact organic farming grows crops using natural fertilizers like home grown manure to improve plant growth. The pesticides used for weeds or pests are also non-chemical. Organic farming improves soil quality, conserves groundwater, reduces pollution and is good for the environment.

Commonly grown organic foods include variety of fruits and vegetables, grains and more. Nowadays you may even buy processed organic products that are increasingly being made available by a growing organic producer’s community. HERD Organic Farms produces organic turmeric and sells it after careful packaging. The medicinal qualities of turmeric are well known and grown organically the processed product becomes more beneficial.

Evidence suggests foods grown organically are more nutritious since they contain plentiful antioxidants and vitamins. Study after study has proved that organic foods generally contain higher levels of micronutrients like vitamin C, zinc and iron. In fact, it is said antioxidant levels can be up to 55% higher in these foods! In fact many varieties of organically grown fruits and vegetables contained over 50% more antioxidants and higher amounts of vitamin C.

So if one replaces regular fruits and vegetables with organic fruits and vegetables they derive extra antioxidants in their diet. This would be like eating 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables! Since organic plants are not dependent on chemical pesticides to safeguard them they produce more of their own protective compounds or antioxidants. This explains their higher levels of antioxidants.

Of course nutrient content may vary even in organic produce depending on varied factors like soil quality, weather conditions and time of harvest. Evidence suggests that consuming these foods reduces exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Many people therefore choose to eat organic for this reason alone, and that is to avoid artificial chemicals.

HERD Organic Farms is convinced that we need to act as a motivating agent to inspire rural farmers to take up organic farming practice. We hope to set an example in the rural region that growing organic foods is ultimately good for all. As more people demand organic food this will produce a domino effect to alter the economics and most certainly make it a profitable venture, in good time.