Greenpeace volunteers protest outside the Parliament in 2011 against the same BRAI bill. © Greenpeace / Sudhanshu Malhotra
The list of opposition is only going to get longer.
I have a question to ask off our Minister of Science and Technology, Jaipal Reddy and I am very sure that I will be asking this question on behalf of many Indians, close to a lakh who have opposed the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill for nearly three years now, to protect their right to safe food and their constitutional ‘Right To Life.’
Dear Minister why would you go ahead and introduce this contentious piece of legislation on the 22nd of April in the Parliament despite the massive opposition to the BRAI Bill inside and outside the Parliament? Worse yet, the manner in which you chose to introduce the Bill amongst opposition from Members of Parliament on various other important issues, only go to show the intention of the Government.
The BRAI Bill is deeply flawed in many aspects and most importantly it is undemocratic and unscientific. The nationwide debate on Bt Brinjal brought to light many concerns with GM crops in general, but one of the main concerns it brought to the forefront was the inefficiency and inadequacies in our regulatory system. One would expect that the proposed BRAI would overcome these shortcomings, but unfortunately not. The BRAI is much worse than the current regulatory mechanism under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
One could only hope that the BRAI would have provisions for long term biosafety testing, public participation, transparency and deterrent liability, as these to some degree would ensure safeguards against the adverse impacts of GMOs. But our government would have none of this and would go so far as to create a single window approval mechanism for GMOs and put Industry’s profits before our own welfare and interests.
If the intent government was not obvious enough, they leave no stone unturned to make it clear. The BRAI is housed with the Ministry of Science and Technology, the very Ministry that is a major promoter of GM crops.
The Minister has clearly ignored our voices of concern and we are unable to understand why would he go ahead and introduce the BRAI Bill, even when the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture recommends that BRAI is not way forward to regulate GM crops in the country.
But there is no respite from these voices I would like to remind the Minister, they will not stop till a Biosafety Protection Regime is brought in place of the BRAI Bill. Already 16 MPs from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have addressed their opposition and asked Jaipal Reddy to withdraw the Bill, of these four of them are floor leaders from the AIADMK, TDP, BJD and the CPI(M). The State of Madhya Pradesh has asked for the withdrawal of the Bill and renowned social activist Arruna Roy has written to the chairperson of the UPA to intervene and withdraw the BRAI Bill till our concerns are addressed.
This list of opposition is only going to get longer and stronger until a time the Government gives back people their right to safe food and withdraws the BRAI Bill.
You can email Jaipal Reddy today demanding your right to safe food. Vist, http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/What-We-Do/Sustainable-Agriculture/GE-campaign/Email-Jaipal-Reddy/
Neha Saigal is a Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner with Greenpeace India