Proper tests not done before giving nod to Bt Brinjal: Parliamentary Panel

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by Predator, Aug 10, 2012.

  1. Predator

    Predator Regular Member

    Apr 25, 2012
    Likes Received:
    NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel has recommended a thorough probe into the controversy surrounding Bt Brinjal and indicated the approval committee was under tremendous pressure from the "industry and a minister" and did not conduct requisite tests properly before granting approval for introduction.

    The 31-member parliamentary standing committee on agriculture tabled its report in Parliament on 'cultivation of genetically modified food crops - prospects and effects' on Thursday. The 492-page exhaustive report on the issue has rejected the idea of genetically modified food crops for India, punching holes in the theory of an urgent need to increase food production through bio-technology. The committee had taken up the issue suo moto in 2010, when a debate over Bt Brinjal and Bt Cotton was raging. It has now observed it was convinced that the government did not carry out significant tests properly before giving a go-ahead for commercial production of Bt Brinjal.

    The committee said it was indicative of "collusion of a worst kind". Standing committee chairman Basudeb Acharia said the observation was made after testimony of Dr PM Bhargava, the Supreme Court nominee on Genetic Engineering Appraisal committee (GEAC), before the parliamentary panel. Bhargava said co-chairman of GEAC Prof Arjula Reddy confessed that the tests asked by Bhargava for assessing Bt Brinjal had not been carried out and even the tests undertaken were performed badly as Reddy was under pressure with calls from industry, GEAC and the minister to approve Bt Brinjal. Speaking to reporters Acharia refused to divulge the name of the minister. When asked whether the committee was told the name, Acharia replied in the negative. The committee found that GM crops have an impact on health and the environment and these aspects were overlooked while approving Bt Brinjal trials in India.

    After examining the issue for two-and-a-half years, the committee felt there was no need to introduce genetically modified food crops in India. Acharia said, "in a country like India, where 82% of farmers are small and marginal we should not go for genetically modified food crops. But if at all the government decides to - because of the argument that the demand for food will increase abnormally by 2020 and existing technology would not be sufficient - then there should be enough safeguards in place. Even then we feel that the government should go for indigenous alternatives. If you see in the past we have been able to increase our food production from 56 million tonnes to 254 million tones, then why do we think in future we won't be able to achieve such growth in food production?"

    The committee has strongly criticised the present regulatory system for genetically modified crops, calling it antiquated and inadequate. It has pointed out serious conflict of interest of various stakeholders involved in the regulatory mechanism as well. Making sharp observations on the issue, the committee has recommended that the government bring an all-encompassing umbrella legislation on bio-safety, "which is focused on ensuring the bio-safety, biodiversity, human and livestock health, environmental protection and which specifically describes the extent to which bio-technology, including modern bio-technology, fits in the scheme of things. Acharia said the committee as recommended that the government bring such a legislation "after due consultation with all stakeholders and bring it before Parliament without any further delay".

    The panel has also recommended proper labelling of genetically modified food. Acharia said the consumer had the right to know and make an informed choice. He pointed out that other countries which allow GM food, such labeling laws are in place.

    "The committee recommends that the government should immediately issue regulation for making labeling of all GM products, including food, feed and food products, so as to ensure the consumer is able to make an informed choice in the matter of what he/she wants to consume," the report says.

    The report is significant as it comes at a time when the Centre, especially the Ministry of Science and Technology, is trying hard to introduce a new regulatory system for GM crops by the name Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India.

    The committee is dominated by UPA with 11 Congress MPs, two from DMK and one Trinamool Congress member. With one member from Samajwadi Party and two from BSP, the total strength of UPA and supporting parties is 17 on the panel. Left Front has two members, including Acharia and one Forward Bloc MP and NDA has 12 MPs.

    Ironically, the stand taken by Acharia-led committee is divergent from the view of CPM, Acharia's party. CPM polit bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai had kicked up a storm in Kerala last year when he had nuanced his party's view by saying complete opposition to genetically modified crops was superstitious. Pillai also appeared before the standing committee as the president of the All India Kisan Sabha and said: "I am for making use of the achievements of science and technology in agriculture as in the case of other areas... There are possibilities for increasing productivity and production in agriculture by making use of genetically modified crops... Very rigorous bio-diversity tests should be conducted to ensure that the genetically modified crops should not cause any ill effects on human life, other plant and animal life and also on the overall environment."

    Proper tests not done before giving nod to Bt Brinjal: Parliamentary Panel - The Economic Times

    the unnamed minister is jairam ramesh, acting like chief agent of monsanto in india.

Share This Page