1.Protesters opposing the BRAI bill arrested
2.Agri-biotech firms pin their hopes on the BRAI Bill
VIDEO: Peaceful protesters against the BRAI bill arrested at Parliament House: http://t.co/AWwMMUz
TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition against the BRAI bill: http://t.co/3H9EWvW Over 57,000 people from all over India and beyond have signed it already – let's make it 100,000!
COMMENT from Aruna Rodrigues, lead petitioner to India's Supreme Court (GMO PIL): This is how the BRAI Bill starts: "to promote the safe use of modern biotechnology by enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of regulatory procedures." This Bill couldn't be more open and confident about its strange objective (of promoting GM crops), an approach supremely unsuited to a high risk technology that requires the most rigorous oversight and precaution. There can be only one objective: BIOSAFETY FIRST.
GM crops are being given this push in India because of a corrupt conflict of interest amongst our public sector scientists and the bureaucrats in the DBT (Department of Biotechnology) of the Ministry of Science and Technology... Such is the conflict of interest and so confident are they that they will get away with it, that no attempt is being made to even hide it, as is very apparent in the clauses of the Bill
(I don't write lightly, this evidence is in the Supreme Court).
Why don't just they call it 'The GM Crop-Promotion Bill' and scrap the 50 pages of paraphernalia that follow to disguise the intent of this Bill in a lot of fluff?
This Bill is so wrong that one would think it is plain idiotic that they imagine they can push it through Parliament. Maybe they can. But if they can, we are in trouble for more reasons than GM crops.
1.Protesters opposing BRAI bill arrested
Greenpeace India, August 17 2011
*Govt plans to slide in BRAI bill amidst nationwide protest
New Delhi: The Union Government's plan to table the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill, 2011, today saw opposition right outside Parliament. Greenpeace volunteers were arrested and taken away by the police while unfurling a banner saying, "Don't Corrupt our Food, Stop BRAI Bill" reminding the government that public is against GM crops and any legislation promoting it. Prominent members of Parliament cutting across party lines called the bill anti-people and anti-farmer.
The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill, 2011 was listed to be tabled in the Lok Sabha by Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Minister of Science and Technology today. The Bill has been courting controversy ever since the government tried to formulate a proposal for a new regulatory body, allegedly to create a single window clearance system for Genetically Modified [GM] crops in the country. The new authority is proposed to be based within the Ministry of Science and Technology which also has the mandate to promote GM crops.
Sri Basudev Acharya, CPI[M] Leader of the party in Lok Sabha who found the proposed BRAI objectionable stated that, "There are numerous concerns with relation to the health and environmental safety of GM crops." Acharya who is also the chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture further opined, "This bill read along with other legislations like the seed bill, that is up for tabling in this session, shows the government's real intent of siding the biotech seed corporations against the farmers and consumers of our country."
Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Former Union minister for rural development and Member of Parliament from Bihar while stating his opposition to the BRAI bill in the Lok Sabha called it a threat to our food safety and a recipe for destruction of our agriculture and rural livelihoods. He stated, "The bill in its current form is a classic case of conflicting interests where the ministry which is supposed to promote GM crops have been asked to regulate it for safety."
The bill proposes to set up a five member Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India, of which two are part-time members, under the Ministry of Science and Technology which will take all decisions on the research, transport, import, manufacture and use of organisms and products created through modern biotechnology. All the other institutions proposed as part of the regulatory system like the Inter Ministerial Governing Board and the Biotechnology Advisory Council are all advisory or supportive in nature. The Bill also reverses the state government’s role in permitting open air field trials of GM crops.
"The sly and hasty manner in which the Government is trying to table the bill in the parliament, without even putting the draft bill in the public domain for any discussion is a commentary on the complete lack of transparency and accountability of our government," said Kapil Mishra, sustainable agriculture campaigner of Greenpeace India. He further expressed shock at the sweeping powers being given to the proposed authority even to over ride the Right to Information Act 2005, “BRAI will take away the people's right to information on things as essential as biosafety assessment of GM crops.”
GM crops have been in a controversy ever since the introduction of Bt cotton, the only GM crop commercially cultivated in India, owing to their impacts on health, environment and socio-economic fabric of this country. Bt brinjal, the first food crop to have reached the commercialization stage, was put under an indefinite moratorium last year due to the above concerns being raised by farmers, consumers, sections of the scientific community and civil society groups.
"BRAI is a ploy by the government to circumvent the massive opposition seen against GM crops in the country" said Neha Saigal Greenpeace activist who was dragged away by the police while unfurling the banner in front of the parliament. She also opined that "Our government wants to give backdoor entry to potentially dangerous GM crops like Bt Brinjal and the sad part is that the proposed system even fails to do sufficient independent safety assessments before approving GM crops."
Greenpeace urged the Members of Parliament not to approve any proposal on a regulatory framework for modern biotechnology and its applications/products that overlooks biosafety for our citizens and our environment. "Instead the Government should table a legislation to protect and enhance biosafety and to ensure democratic processes are adhered to when dealing with issues as important as food and farming in our country" Mishra concluded.
1. Link to the BRAI Bill:
2. Link to the critique of the bill:
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2.Agri-biotech firms pin hopes on BRAI Bill
DNA, August 23 2011
Bangalore: Crop companies are optimistic that the legislation which would grant a single-window clearance to genetically modified crops will soon be passed by the lawmakers.
The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, which seeks to form a five-member regulator for biotechnology, was to be tabled in Parliament last week, but was delayed due to the Anna Hazare fast.
"We are very supportive of the Bill and are hoping it will get tabled in the current session of Parliament. If approved, it should take at least a year to get operational," said V Ram Kaundinya, chairman, association of biotechnology led enterprises-agriculture group (ABLE-AG), which is a consortium of about 12 crop companies including Advanta, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, Monsanto, Metahelix, etc.
"There have been concerns over when it will get tabled as the Bill has been talked about for quite a while. However, now it looks closer to getting tabled,2 said Usha Barwale Zehr, joint director of research, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co (Mahyco), which is also a member of ABLE-AG.
The biotech regulatory authority, once set up, will take all decisions on the research, manufacture and use of organisms and products created through biotechnology.
Kaundinya said the key advantage of the Bill is that it would provide for a single-window clearance for all biotech products. "Currently, we deal with the agriculture, environment and science and technology ministries. So, if there is one unit with full empowerment, it will be beneficial for the sector."
However, some agriculture and farmer groups are of the view that the Bill has certain clauses which are not in public interest.
Kavitha Kuruganti, convenor, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (Asha), a farmers and consumer group network, said that the Brai Bill is being proposed by the science and technology ministry which is an inherent promoter of genetically modified crop.
"This leads to a conflict of interest. It should be the health or environment ministries dealing with this Bill. Moreover, biotech regulation is not just about bio-safety, but there are issues related to farmers' rights, consumer rights, which should also be looked into."
Another concern with the Bill is a clause which seeks to classify some information as confidential commercial information and leaves it to the discretion of the authority to share or withhold.
"Bio-safety and other data related to biotech products which will be consumed by people should not be classified as confidential information. People who will consume the products have a right to know all details," said a food policy expert.
Another concern is that the Bill has very weak penalty clauses, as well as no mention of compensation to affected parties in case of any damage caused. "It should address issues such as liability, compensation and not just be a supreme body empowering the corporations," said Kuruganti.