GM resistance increasing in India
2.Kerala Food Processing Associations Reject GM-Foods
1.Activists want BRAI Bill scrapped
Express News Service, Nov 12 2011
CHENNAI: Terming the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill as a "threat to the food sovereignty and security of the country," a committee formed by various activists, farmers' groups and traders in the State on Friday demanded that the Bill be scrapped with immediate effect. They requested the State government to take a stand against the infringement on its powers by the Centre through the Bill, expected to the tabled in Parliament in the winter session.
At a press conference here, members of the Joint Action Committee against BRAI Bill said the core objectives of the law were against the farmers as the Bill, without fully examining the pros and cons of the genetically modified (GM) crops, had come to the conclusion that GM crops were a necessity to the country and was setting up a regulatory body that would have "no transparency."
Elaborating on the Tamil Nadu experience with Bt Cotton, data for which was obtained from the government itself and released as a document on Friday, the activists said unlike the promise made by the GM seeds manufacturing companies, the use of pesticides has not come down. The cost of cultivation of cotton, which com es to about Rs 22,350 per hectare in 1999-2000, has doubled to Rs 42,145 in 20 09.
Pointing to the provisions in the proposed law, convenor of the Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture Kavita Kuruganti said the law gave the Centre overriding powers over the State governments despite agriculture being in the State list. Seven States have already taken a no-GM stand and Bihar has even written to the Centre.
Activists also said Section 2 of the Bill has brought in an expediency clause whereby the whole regulation of biotechnology is vested with the Centre. This apart, Sections 81 and 87 gave the Centre vast overriding powers that would affect the laws enacted by the States.
Promotion of genetic engineering is one of the objectives of the Department of Biotechnology coming under the Ministry of Science and Technology. This looked like a classic case of “promoter being the regulator” as the same ministry is the nodal agency for the Bill.
Sridhar Radhakrishnan, convenor of the Coalition for GM Free India, said an analysis of farmer suicides had revealed that most such incidents took place in Bt Cotton cultivating belts such as Vidarbha in Maharashtra. He questioned the rationale behind rushing with a regulatory Bill when a Parliament Standing Panle was still looking into the issue of GM technology. Later, the activists met Minister for Agriculture S Damodaran and submitted a representation.
2.Kerala Food Processing Associations Reject GM-Foods
The Hindu, November 13 2011
The Kerala Roller Flour Millers Association and the All Kerala Bread Manufacturers Association has called for the immediate ban on open air releases of Genetically Modified (GM) food crops.
The call comes amidst reports that the controversial Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill will be tabled in the coming winter session of the Parliament.
Memoranda in this connection on November 11 to the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and the Confederation of Indian Industry, the two food associations stated that their members have decided to reject GM food crops.
The communication says that the decision was taken after considering the concerns expressed at the 6th National Trade Fair for Bakery and Pastry Professionals in India held in Mumbai from November 6 to 11 on the implications that GM foods have on trade both within the country and outside. As per the decision the two associations will not accept GM crops from November.
The memoranda states that a consumer opinion poll conducted by the market research agency Gfk Mode shows that close to 80 per cent of the consumers in the country would not accept food containing genetically modified organisms. They said that in this backdrop any open release of GM crops is a cause of serious concern to them.
Demanding GM free zones, the associations said that in the past concerns had led to the ban on any open release, including experimental trials, of GM rice in the entire Basmati belt of the country. “This was to safeguard the rice exports from GM contamination which could have led to loss of trade”.
The memoranda says that since both the associations represent a significant part of the Indian food industry, it is essential for them to avoid any chances of contamination from GM crops into their chain of supplies especially in the regions from where they source their raw materials. The memorandum cites seven such regions in the country which are of concern to them and they are wheat from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar.
The two associations have urged the FSSAI to take up the issue with the Union Government in order to ensure that policies are put in place to safeguard the interests of the food processing industry.
Meanwhile in a communication to The Hindu in this connection the environmental organisation Greenpeace India wanted the Union Government to take into consideration the massive opposition that GM crops are facing from all stakeholders. “In this backdrop the BRAI Bill should be redrafted from its current form to one that underscores bio-safety”.
Greenpeace feels that in the current form the BRAI Bill falls flat in terms of its capacity as a regulator “because of the very fact that it seems more like a promoter than a regulator of GM crops”. The fear is that the BRAI Bill aims at bringing back the Bt brinjal and rice against the wishes of the people, the communication said.