Biotech industry blamed for "sabotaging" COP MOP 6 talks
Business Line, October 7 2012

*Urges Govt to discard Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill

Hyderabad: The Coalition for GM Free India has alleged that the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP MOP6) has exposed the global biotech industry's attempts to sabotage the Nagoya-Kaula Lumpur Supplementary Protocol.

"They have attempted to discourage and dissuade parties from ratifying it. They have lobbied with nations to adopt the industry-sponsored voluntary compensation mechanism. This follows years of attempts by the global (and Indian) industry to assert the supposed safety of genetically modified (GM) crops," members of the Coalition have said here in a recent press conferenceo.

They criticised the attempts by some national and international agricultural research institutions for "toeing the industry line" and trying hard to dismiss the real concerns raised by civil society and independent scientists across the world. Amongst the 18 decisions adopted at the MOP6, the decision to establish an ad-hoc technical expert group (AHTEG) on socio-economic considerations is of particular interest to India.

Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Convener of the Coalition, has demanded that the Indian Government enact a comprehensive National Biosafety Protection Law to address the risks posed by genetic engineering technology. "Any future consideration of release of GM crops should be done only after establishing a biosafety regime based on precautionary principles, complete consideration of socio-economic realities and strict liability and redress is implemented," he said.

The Coalition has asked the Government to discard the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill as it "violates the key commitments being made by India under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and its Supplementary Protocol."

It also demanded the Government to consider all open-air field trials of GM crops as environmental releases and should be stopped forthwith, as recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture.