The Coalition for a GM-Free India has written letters to the Chief Ministers of all the states requesting them to oppose BRAI Bill at the upcoming National Development Council (NDC) in order to safeguard the health of the people and sustainability of our farming from GM crops. The NDC meeting is slated for October 22, where the approach paper to the upcoming 12th five-year plan is being discussed.
The coalition has written to the CMs that the approach paper explicitly states promotion of GM crops, a health and environmental hazard, as GM crops today are seen globally as one of the biggest threats to sustaining agriculture. Civil society as well as scientists and various State Governments have been opposing the entry of Genetically Modified (GM) Crops in India.
The Union Government is planning to bring about a new regulatory system for GM crop approvals in India. The Bill called Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, 2011, has been listed for tabling in the upcoming winter session of the parliament. This new legislation is seen by activists as an overt effort to push GM crops in the country. The Bill proposes to put in place a centralised technocratic body which will take all decisions on the approval of GM crops with absolutely no role for the Indian public or their elected representatives in the decision making.
The coalition letter specifically pointed out that besides lowering the bar for GM crop approvals, the new regulatory system is also unconstitutional as it explicitly overrides the powers of the state governments on matters related to agriculture and health. It reminded the states that it was the opposition by 13 state governments that put the Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop under a moratorium. The proposed BRAI negates the powers of State to reject GM crops and protect state's interests, says the coalition for GM-free India.
The Coalition also requested the Chief Minister to ask the Union Government to withdraw the bill in its current form and ensure that state governments and the public are consulted before any regulation on GM crops is put in place as it is a question of safety and sustainability of our food and farming.
The Coalition urged the Chief Ministers to take up the cause of ecologically and socially farming for our sustainable future.