19 December 2011

Press Conference against BRAI Bill 2011 by DELHI ALLIANCE FOR SAFE FOOD - Humanist Party's stand on the issue

18 December 2011.

The HUMANIST PARTY of INDIA, as part of the DELHI ALLIANCE FOR SAFE FOOD, supports the Campaign for immediate cancellation of the "BIOTECHNOLOGY REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF INDIA BILL 2011", that is proposed to be tabled in the Parliament at any time.

The BRAI bill 2011 signifies the blatant nexus between Multinational Seed companies who are pushing their Genetically modified crops in India and our government institutions, and the corrupt Politicians and the bureaucracy.
The BRAI bill 2011 is a negative legislation since it is based on “anti-life-manipulation-of-science” - it indeed truly represents CORRUPTION of Ideas acting in the fields of Science, Law, Industry, Politics among others.

This corrupt practice of multiple players, being presented to India by Monsanto and its partners in this death-game is unfortunately getting the full support from UPA Government headed by the Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh, and deserves full-complete opposition from all life-supporting Indians.

The campaign being conducted under the banner of DELHI ALLIANCE FOR SAFE FOOD, formed by a wide cross section of consumers, farmers, traders, civil society, trade union activists, scientists and academics from Delhi support of hundreds of Organizations representing millions of Indians, urges the Manmohan Singh Government to not only drop the proposed legislation completely but also cancel all the current trials being conducted in different parts of India on different kinds of GM seeds. These trials are not just illegal and immoral but also anti-life, as we have seen deaths of hundreds of thousands of farmers specially in the areas where BT-Cotton has been allowed over the last years.

No Government in a true-democracy has the right to sell the security & sovereignty of its people's lives. If any Government attempts to do that, it will risk facing the strong opposition of people leading to the end of its undemocratic rule.
Continuation of insisting this bill will only prove the corrupt-violent credentials of the current Government and the people of India, in that case will have no choice but to work for a new Government that will be formed based on the following principals :


(Sudhir Gandotra)
Major concerns with BRAI Bill, 2011

  • The fundamental basis of regulation on products of modern biotechnology lies in the risks associated with modern biotechnology. Therefore, there should only be one primary mandate or objective to this statute: to prevent risks to the health and safety of people of India, its socio-economic fabric, its environment and its biological diversity in particular, from the development, handling, transport, use, transfer and release of any living modified organisms. But the preamble of the current proposal gives one a feeling that products of modern biotechnology are a fait accompli and the law is being made to 'promote' safe usage.

  • There is an inherent, objectionable conflict of interest as the BRAI is proposed to be under the Ministry of Science and Technology, which already has a mandate to promote GM crops, a product of modern biotechnolgy which BRAI is supposed to regulate. The very mandate of the BRAI Bill is inappropriate.
  • There is no intention or mention of independent, long-term and rigorous biosafety assessment of GM crops.
  • Centralised and narrow decision-making with no mechanism for consultation with the public or involvement of multiple stakeholders in decision-making is present in the bill, which is against the spirit of democracy and against the Cartagena Protocol, to which India is a signatory.
  • No mechanism for transparency- Worse yet, the Bill bypasses the citizen’s right to information by overriding the Right to Information Act, 2005, for commercial interests.
  • The Bill overrides the state governments’ authority over health and agriculture and thereby challenging the federal polity of the country.
  • It is also objectionable and problematic that this Act will have an over-riding effect over other laws in force, since this Bill is indeed inconsistent with legislations like the Biological Diversity Act.
  • The Bill has very weak penal clauses and lacks deterrent liability mechanisms to ensure prevention of mishaps and irresponsible actions by GM crop developers and promoters. It also lacks any redressal mechanisms where by stakeholders [farmers, consumers etc] can be compensated for damages [deliberate or otherwise] caused and remediation ensured.
  • Very importantly, the Bill fails to talk about any needs evaluation, socio-economic assessment and assessment of alternatives, which was also stressed by the Government in its Bt brinjal moratorium decision – and assumes that all biotechnology and GM crops are a fait accompli.

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