Farmers’ unions, consumer groups and eminent citizens today urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to table the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill in Parliament.

In a letter written to the PM, they reminded the PM that there was enough scientific evidence to question the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops and therefore, the public protest on the technology and its products.

Signatories to the letter to the PM included veteran journalist Kuldip Nayyar, danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, Bollywood lyricist Gulzar, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, social activist Medha Patkar and Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal.

President Pratibha Patil’s address to the joint session of Parliament on the opening day of ongoing budget session had a reference to the government’s plan to introduce Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India bill, 2009.

It intends to establish the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) for regulation of modern biotechnology in the country.

BRAI is to act as the sole agency responsible for the regulatory system, including research, transport, import, manufacture and use of GM crops throughout the country.

What the government should have formulated is a statutory regulatory regime centred around protecting all citizens and our environment from the risks of modern biotechnology and the controversial technologies of transgenic, cloning etc, the letter added.

“The national debate on Bt brinjal, highlighted the objections of the society, including scientists, on GM foods in general and Bt Brinjal in particular, which resulted in a moratorium being declared on it last year,” Coalition for a GM-Free India Convenor Sridhar Radhakrishnan said.

Keywords: GM cropsBRAI