GM Free Bihar Movement Rejects BRAI Bill

Patna, October 16, 2011: The GM Free Bihar Movement today rejected the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill as anti-people and anti-nature, saying that the Bihar Government should also pitch in immediately to stall the Bill before it becomes a law.

Activists, Consumers, Students & Farmers are raising their voice against BRAI BIll on World Food Day

At a dharna held at the Kargil Chowk, farmers and activists also started a signature campaign against the Bill which they said denied State Governments their authority over Agriculture and Health, which are primarily state subjects.

They felt that besides other failings, there is urgent need to review the Bill before its introduction to the Parliament so that the interests of farmers could be protected and that the Bill should be introduced not by the Ministry of Science and Technology but by the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Environment & Forests.

The speakers at the protest also attacked the Bill for its attempts to bypass the citizens’ Right to Information, as they said, “This Bill, through Section 28, expressly seeks to classify some information as Confidential Commercial Information and leaves it to the discretion of officials of the Authority to share or not share this information.”

“This is regressive, given that the Bt brinjal controversy saw express Supreme Court orders to the regulators asking them to put out all the biosafety data in the public domain,” said Rekha Modi, a Senior Activist from Bihar. She further said that the Bill has very weak penal clauses and does not address liability issues at all.

“The bill will affect our farmers, it will hit our villages. But even then it does not provide for consultation with people at our panchayat levels which is most shocking,” said Pankaj Bhushan, the coordinator of the GM Free Bihar Movement.

Bhushan said Indian farmers have lakhs of varieties of crops developed through their knowledge that will be under threat if the bill in present form becomes law. “That is what we are protesting because we want our farmers, our nature to be protected for they are our real wealth with which we are born,” he added.

Even the noted agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan recently criticised the proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (Brai) bill, saying it is against the spirit of Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi and decentralised governance.

The GM Free Bihar Movement also pointed to a recent press release issued by Senior National Advisory Council Member & associated with The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) Ms. Aruna Roy, who too criticized the BRAI Bill for total lack of transparency and being an antidote to RTI.

Activist & member GM Free Bihar Movement, Prakash Bablu said The BRAI Bill is also a regrettable attempt to curtail spaces for people’s participation and democratic oversight in decisions that could affect the lives of the entire population of our country.

The fact that this Bill has been listed for introduction in Parliament with no discussion of its contents in the public domain is an indication of the intent to push this bill through without discussion and debate, said Kanchan Bala, Activist from Patna.

Social Worker Archna Sharma said this bill will end our choice of food in near future.

Pankaj Bhushan

Convener, GM Free Bihar Movement

National Co Convener, Alliance for Sustainable & Holitic Agriculture (ASHA)

9472999999

kisanswarajpankaj@gmail.com

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