Bt brinjal approval condemned
BACKGROUND: Center for Science and Environment report: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/full6.asp?foldername=20090415&filename=news&sec_id=9&sid=42
BT BRINJAL APPROVAL A SHAME FOR INDIA;
DECISION BY GEAC CONDEMNED, TERMED "UNACCEPTABLE"
Coalition for a GM-Free India, October 14 2009
New Delhi: Close to World Food Day, a controversial decision that was taken by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of India to approve Bt Brinjal, the first such GM vegetable ever, was condemned as “unacceptable” by Coalition for a GM-Free India. It is a shame that regulators in this country have put the interests of corporations over the interests of ordinary citizens, the Coalition said.
"We are yet to see the Expert Committee report. But Prima facie, it appears that the Expert Committee has not responded to all the issues raised about the safety of Bt Brinjal adequately. More importantly, it appears that no satisfactory answers have been yet proferred about the very need for this Bt Brinjal when safer, sustainable and affordable alternatives exist. For us, this is not the last word on Bt Brinjal and the government has to heed to democratic voices asking for a scientific and sustainable vision for Indian farming and food systems”.
Farmers' organizations and other civil society groups from across the country sought to remind Mr Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Environment & Forests about his assurance to them against the entry of GM foods into India. "We want him to keep his promise to us, keeping in view the best interests of farmers and consumers in this country and keeping sustainable development objectives at the fore," they said.
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had circulated the “voluminous” Expert Committee’s report only two nights before and today, the GEAC members were supposed to have taken a decision on this this is just not acceptable, said anti-GM activists. "The least that the regulators could have done is to bring the Expert Committee members and the international scientists who had reviewed Mahyco's biosafety data face-to-face, finalise the report properly, put it out in the public domain and obtain feedback before taking a decision. This undue haste is indeed unholy."
"This Expert Committee and its ToR, its constitution, its processes etc., are all fraught with problems. We had discovered that a few of the Expert Committee members were not even aware that the report was finalized. Further, at least two members carried a brief from their agency to only sit in the Committee as observers and not to provide inputs. Two of the members were earlier involved in the biosafety research and trials commissioned by Mahyco and they also sat in this Committee to review their own findings! One of the Expert Committee members is a GM crop developer himself. Given all of this, we do not know why we should trust this Committee to take decisions that are in the best interests of people", explained members of Coalition for a GM-Free India.
The members of the Coalition want the Government of India to reject the application of Bt Brinjal and point out that no GM crop has been allowed in the world in its Centre of Origin/Diversity. "We need real, sustainable solutions and not false and faulty solutions for the crisis in Indian farming. We hope that the Government will heed to these concerns”.
For more information, contact:
Kavitha Kuruganti, Kheti Virasat Mission, +91-9393001550
Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, +91-900069702
Rajesh Krishnan, +91-98-456-50032