Controversial BRAI Bill introduced in Lok Sabha

Greenpeace condemns the Bill and urges all MPs to reject the bill

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Press release - April 22, 2013
New Delhi: April 22, 2013: The controversial Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha today amid huge protests by opposition parties on the failure of the government on various matters. Mr Jaipal Reddy introduced the bill despite vehement opposition from several MPs led by Mr Basudeva Acharia, the floor leader of CPI(M).

Neha Saigal, Campaigner, Sustainable Agriculture, Greenpeace India said, "This shows that the UPA government has not only ignored the voices of the public but also the credible and exhaustive report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture which had tabled its report 'Cultivation of Genetically Modified Food Crops – Prospects and Effects' in the Monsoon Session last year. PSC had clearly recommended that the BRAI Bill is not the way forward for regulating GM crops in the country,".

The Bill though listed, has been facing opposition by all sectors of the society and Members of Parliament for the last 10 sessions of Parliament. The BRAI Bill has been in controversy due to its proposal of an easy single window approval mechanism for GM crops in India. It is also pointed out that BRAI which is be located within the Ministry of Science and Technology, a promoter of GM crops, is riddled with conflicts of interests as no promoter can be a good regulator.

The bill also lacks a scientific biosafety assessment at a time when there is increasing scientific evidence that points to the adverse impacts of GM crops on human health, biodiversity and farming.

State governments and civil society organisations are also agitated due to the absence of any decision making roles for state governments and clauses to over-ride the Right to Information Act in the current BRAI Bill.

During the BT Brinjal moratorium, the then Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh had said that at the moment there was a lack of long-term independent biosafety testing, which goes onto prove that the country is at a nascent stage in experimenting with this technology.

Given the threat GM crops pose to our nation Greenpeace urges all Members of Parliament to reject the current draft proposed by the government and demand that the Bill should be sent to the Joint Committee of the Parliament with members from all political parties from both the houses for amendments.

A Biosafety protection regime, is the need of the hour, as recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in the place of such cantankerous proposals like the BRAI Bill.

Notes to the editor:

http://indiagminfo.org/wp- ree-india.pdf)content/uploads/2013/03/Scientific_Papers_Compiled_March_2013_coalition-for-a-gm-f

http://www.greenpeace.org/india/Global/india/report/BRAI-Critique-Report.pdf

For More info:

Neha Saigal, Campaigner, Sustainable Agriculture, Greenpeace India: : +91-7760968772

Media Contacts:

Shuchita Mehta, Media Officer, Greenpeace India: : +91-9560990606

Debanjana Choudhuri, Sr Media Officer, Greenpeace India: : +91-9560990808

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