Chew on This
Questions about the safety of genetically engineered food, currently estimated to affect up to 70 percent of our food supply, fuel hot debates in the news every day. You've probably heard the concerns of scientists, health workers, environmentalists, and consumer advocates about this new technology—namely, that it poses risks to the environment and to human health and economic well-being. But while it doesn't often make headlines, the ancient science of Ayurveda offers a unique perspective on the issue, one that suggests greater spiritual ramifications than even most critics will acknowledge.
As psychiatrist Byron P. Rigby, president of the Australian Association of Ayur Vedic Medicine, explains, genetic engineering actually poses not a crisis of biological science, but "a crisis of consciousness." The technology involves inserting genetic material from animals, insects, viruses, and other organisms into the DNA of food products such as corn, soybeans, and tomatoes—a practice that goes against the sacred fabric of life, says Dr. Rama Kant Mishra, Ayurvedic physician and director of research and development for Maharishi Ayur-Ved Products International. "Nature's organizing power is chetana, or intelligence. It is this intelligence in the DNA that determines the characteristics of different species. By splicing foreign genetic material into the DNA of a plant, the plant's fundamental connection with the wholeness of life is damaged."
This damage gets passed on to us at the dinner table. The Ayurvedic texts define the source of all disease and suffering as pragyaparadh, or "the mistake of the intellect." This occurs when individuals (or even single cells) "forget" their connection with the wholeness of life and believe themselves to be isolated entities. Creating, and then eating, genetically engineered foods exposes us to pragyaparadh. Continues Mishra, "It is said in Ayurveda that if you physically injure someone, it is usually possible to repair the damage. However, if you damage someone spiritually, it destroys the life force. Because nature's fundamental intelligence has been damaged in genetically engineered food, eating it causes spiritual damage."
We are all threads in the fabric of creation, say ancient Ayurvedic texts. To believe ourselves to be the weavers, capable of successfully manipulating nature's intelligence, is a symptom of pragyaparadh—and the assumption reveals our ultimate naiveté. Says Steven Druker, J.D., executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity, "The genetic program of a living organism is vastly more powerful and more complex than limited human intelligence."