Letters to PM on crop trials

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Patna, Nov. 7: Three NDA MPs from Bihar — C.P. Thakur of the BJP, Jai Narayan Nishad and Anil Kumar Sahani of the JD(U)— have written separate letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing concern over reports of Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill being introduced in the winter session of Parliament.

They have sought an intervention to stop the process in the interest of farmers. “I have strong objections to it being infringement on the authority of the state on matters related to agriculture and health,” said Thakur in his letter. He also objected to the fact that the proposed bill would be tabled by the ministry of science and technology when it should have been under the ministry of environment or health.

Jai Narayan Nishad, in his letter, has pointed out that seven states — Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Kerala — have already objected to genetically modified crop trials. “You must also be aware that during the Bt Brinjal debate, 13 states had objected to the approval for its commercial cultivation,” Nishad said, adding that the bill and its provisions are going to leave behind a large impact because the livelihood of most of the people of the country depends on agriculture.

He has also expressed apprehensions about degradation of environment resources and serious changes in crop because of GM crops. “I believe you will agree that regulatory regime that does not pay attention to these issues, bio-safety-related as well as those beyond bio-safety, will only benefit the industry and fail our vast majority of poor,” Nishad said.

Sahani in his letter stressed that he has found the contents of the proposed bill “too centralised and thereby contradictory to the principle of decentralisation of governance”, he remarked recalling that the Bihar government had not only objected to the trial of genetic seeds within its state but also apprised the environment ministry of its strong objection to GM field trials. He urged the PM to take public opinion through debates and invite critical inputs before the bill is introduced in Parliament.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar has been in the forefront of objecting the proposed bill. A few months ago, he had written letters stressing that the proposed bill infringes on the rights of the state and that there was no provision for timely compensation to the farmers should the GM seeds fail.

He had been swift to oppose GM seed trial in Sabour and had expressed shock that the trials should have been done without the consent of the state government.

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