Farmer unions decry Biotech Regulator bill

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Farmers unions and civil society groups have rejected the proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill “as a wrong bill by the wrong people for the wrong reasons”, and instead demanded setting up of a National Biosafety Protection Authority.

At a press conference here, Malla Reddy of A.P. Rythu Sangam said it was unfortunate that BRAI bill was being moved with undue haste to facilitate single-window clearance for genetically modified (GM) crop developers while sitting over Seeds Bill of 2004 that was intended at protecting farmers’ interests.

David Shourie of Bharatiya Kisan Morcha asserted that the bill had ‘draconian’ clauses to stifle anti-GM voices and was designed to be a one-stop clearing house for GM crop applications rather than protecting the health of the people and environment in the country.

He cited a section from the proposed Bill which says “whoever, without any evidence or scientific record misleads the public about safety of GMOs and products thereof shall be punished”, perhaps with imprisonment and fine! Forces unhappy with the current indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal are seeking to bring in GM crops through the backdoor, said G. V. Ramanjaneyulu of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. D. Narasimha Reddy, social activist , said thatit has brought in clauses on retaining confidentiality instead of having sections on information disclosure.

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