Below is the legal notice that's just been sent to India's GM regulators - the GEAC.
Comment from Aruna Rodrigues, chief petitioner in the case before the Supreme Court: "Such is the conflict of interest amongst the Regulators - and hence their great, all-out drive to pursue the introduction now of harzardous GM crops - that they have sought fit to 'add' to the Orders of the Supreme Court.
The approval given for 'Largescale Trials' of Bt Brinjal, a GM introduction that is unparalleled anywhere in the world, is a most unfortuante step by the Regulators and a most blatant contempt of the SC's Orders of the 22nd Sept 2006, which have been upheld in the subsequent Orders of the 8th May and 1st Aug 2007".
EXTRACTS: It is now abundantly clear that all the field trials, and other environmental releases approved by you in your 78th & 79th Meeting, including strip trials, represent new approvals and/or new events. These are therefore injuncted, in accordance with the Orders of 22nd September and continuing injunction of 8th May 2007.
It is especially distressing to see the GEAC giving approval for LSTs of Bt brinjal, which represents an unprecedented violation of the SC's Orders and therefore 'contempt of court'.
Date: 24th August 2007
M/s Ranjini Warrier
Member Secretary, GEAC
Ministry of Environment and Forests
Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO complex
Lodi road, New Delhi
SUBJECT: FIELD TRIALS AND ENVIRONMENTAL RELEASES OF VARIOUS GM FOOD CROPS AND BT COTTON APPROVED BY THE GEAC IN ITS 78TH & 79TH MEETINGS
I write with further reference to my letters of the 21st June and 17th July 2007 wherein specific information was requested of you and which has still not been provided. The Hon'ble Court in its Order of 1st August has "issued notice. Reply if any, be filed within three weeks". This notice is with reference to Petitioners' Application for Urgent Interim Orders filed on July 26th 2007, which made specific reference to the decisions taken on environmental releases of GM food crops as well as Bt Cotton field trials, in the 78th Meeting of the GEAC held on 22nd June 2007. I also now refer to the decisions taken at the 79th Meeting of the GEAC held on 8th August 2007, which has been belatedly published on your website only in the last few days. For the Record the Hon'ble Supreme Court in its order dated 22nd September, 2006 has specifically directed the GEAC to "withhold approvals". The relevant portion of the Hon'ble Courts order dated 22nd September, 2006 is quoted below;
"In I.A. No. 4, the prayer is for issue of directions to stop all field trials for all genetically modified products anywhere and everywhere with immediate effect, besides certain other prayers”¦”¦"
"At this stage, without the stand of the respondents, we are not inclined to direct stoppage of field trials. At the same time, we deem it appropriate to direct the GEAC to withhold the approvals till further directions are issued by this Court on hearing all concerned”¦”¦"
In the light of the Supreme Court Orders of the 22nd September 2006, 8th May and 1st August 2007, I am therefore, constrained to bring to your notice the following:
i. LSTs: That the approvals granted by you in your 79th Meeting of Large-scale field trials of Bt Brinjal are unprecedented and contravene the Orders of the Supreme Court. It is to be noted that LSTs of Bt Brinjal were not approved by the GEAC at any time prior to the 22nd Sept. 2006. Furthermore, your attempt to legitimise these LSTs by requiring them to be conducted in 'Institutional' premises whether of the ICAR or any other, rather than in farmers' fields, does not legitimise the trials in any shape or form. They remain in contravention of the Orders of the Hon'ble Court. For the record, neither do they insulate against the biological certainty of eventual contamination, the risk of which is substantially increased through LSTs.
ii. Other GM food crops: Similarly, you have approved field trials, strip trials and other environmental releases under diverse heads like pollen flow studies etc. of other GM food crops including rice, okra, tomato, Bt brinjal, ground nut etc. as follows:
a. You have endorsed the RCGM decisions in their meeting on 1-6-2007 of new events, new crops, and new approvals. These details are yet awaited.
b. We note from the 79th Meeting of the GEAC that Item 3.1 is listed as a new GM crop/event of TNAU comprising 4 Bt brinjal varieties under the EE1 or Cry 1Ac gene event.
c. Item 4 is listed as ‘Pollen flow’ studies of new GM Crops or events, for Bt brinjal (Cry 1F) of Bejo Sheetal Seeds; Bt Okra, of Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. ; Marker-free Bt rice (Cry2Ab); and marker free Bt tomato (cry 2Ab)
d. Item 5.0 is listed as 'strip trials of GM crops of new genes/events, for GM rice (truncated synthetic Cry1Ac) of Metahelix life Sciences; GM Groundnut vars Jl-24 (Chitnase gene) of ICRISAT
e. Item 10.2 Bt Brinjal Cry1 Fal gene of Bejo Sheetal Seeds. From other documents sourced from you, this is a new event.
These field trials listed above, by whatever nomenclature, represent new events. All of them are also new approvals for the Kharif season 2007 and some even, for the next Rabi season. New events and new GM products that remain outside the list of field trials conducted during May-Sept 2006 unambiguously contravene the Courts Orders of 8th May 2007. It is now clear from your Meetings, that all these are also new approvals. None of them fall within the "going on" category, which circumscribe the Hon'ble Court's Order of the 8th May 2007. It is emphasised that the SC has not vacated the Orders of the 22nd Sept. 2006.
It is regretted that the Regulators are attempting to muddy the waters by attempting to legitimise these field trials/open releases by requiring them to be conducted in institutional premises including those of the crop developer. It is now abundantly clear that all the field trials, and other environmental releases approved by you in your 78th & 79th Meeting, including strip trials, represent new approvals and/or new events. These are therefore injuncted, in accordance with the Orders of 22nd September and continuing injunction of 8th May 2007.
iii. Similarly, you are not permitted to conduct any fresh field trials of Bt cotton hybrids. Your minutes include a vast number of large-scale trials, as well as new events for which you have granted approvals.
You are also requested to kindly provide us with the recommendations of the Expert Committee on Bt Brinjal, which you admit have been finalised in the meeting held on 3.7.2007. You are aware, that the full bio-safety data for Bt brinjal has never been put in the public domain. What we require is the report presented to the Regulators, which is a compilation and statistical analyses of the raw data, as well as the actual raw data. Both these may please be posted on your website. The same reports are also awaited for Bt cotton.
Finally, I draw your attention yet again, to the even greater hazardous implications presented by GM food crops in particular, for environmental and health safety, and India's biodiversity. These approvals demonstrate a reckless disregard of the precautionary principle and the public interest, principles, which are underscored in the Court's orders. It is therefore hoped that you will see fit to withdraw approvals granted by you in the 78th & 79th Meetings of the GEAC, for environmental releases of GM food crops as well as field trials of Bt Cotton. It is especially distressing to see the GEAC giving approval for LSTs of Bt brinjal, which represents an unprecedented violation of the SC's Orders and therefore 'contempt of court'.
I look forward to a favourable response from you by 28th August 2007.
1. Secy. MoEF;
2. The Chairman, RCGM
3. The Secretary, Department of Biotechnology