Posts Tagged 'GM Free Bihar Movement'

SAY NO TO BRAI BILL

SAY NO TO BRAI BILL

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बी आर ए आई बिल विधेयक को लेकर घमासान , किसान संगठनों ने आन्दोलन की दी चेतावनी

बिहार ऑब्जर्वर:पटना,  राष्ट्रीय जैव प्रौद्यागिकी नियामक प्राधिकरण विधेयक (बी आर ए आई बिल) दिनांक अप्रैल को केन्द्रीय विज्ञान एवं तकनीकी तथा पृथ्वी विज्ञान मंत्री श्री जयपाल रेड्डी द्वारा केंद्रीय लोक सभा में बड़े नाटकीय ढंग से पेश कर दिया गया. विदित हो कि केंद्रीय मंत्रिमंडल द्वारा राष्ट्रीय जैव प्रौद्यागिकी नियामक प्राधिकरण विधेयक (BRAI Bill,बायोटेक्नोलॉजी रेगुलेटरी ऑथीरटी ऑफ इन्डिया बिल) कि मंजूरी दे दी गई थी जो संसद में विगत दो वर्षों से लंबित था. इसका मुख्य कारण है कि इस् बिल में राज्यों के संवैधानिक अधिकारों को छीनने की कोशिश की गई हैं साथ ही साथ इसके पारित होने से सूचना के अधिकार अधिनियम एवं पर्यावरण संरक्षण अधिनियम का भी हनन होगा तथा हमारी खाद्य सुरक्षा एवं किसानी पर बड़ा सवाल खड़ा होगा।

यह बातें जी एम मुक्त बिहार अभियान के संयोजक एवं कोलीशन फॉर जी एम फ्री इंडिया के सह संयोजक पंकज भूषण ने कहा।श्री भूषण ने केन्द्रीय विज्ञान एवं तकनीकी तथा पृथ्वी विज्ञान मंत्री श्री जयपाल रेड्डी को पत्र भेजते हुए निवेदन कहा कि इस् बिल पर तुरत ही रोक लगायी जाये साथ हीं उन्होंने बिहार के मुख्य मंत्री को पत्र के माध्यम से अनुरोध किया है की अविलम्ब इस् बिल को रोकने की शिफारिश की जाये, साथ हीं उन्होंने यह भी अनुरोध किया की यदि इस् बिल पर रोक नहीं लगती है तब इसे संयुक्त समिति को अग्रसारित किया जाये या संसदीय कृषि समिति को दिया जाये।विदित हो कि इस् बिल के विरुद्ध बिहार के पूर्व मुख्य मंत्री एवं सांसद श्री रामसुंदर दास, पूर्व केंद्रीय मंत्री-सांसद एवं तत्कालीन भारतीय जनता पार्टी के प्रदेश अध्यक्ष डा० सी पी ठाकुर, सांसद एवं पूर्व केन्द्रीय मंत्री कैप्टन जय नारायण निषाद, सांसद श्रीमती अश्वमेधा देवी, तत्कालीन सांसद स्व० उमा शंकर सिंह, सांसद ओम् प्रकाश यादव, सांसद डा० अनिल कुमार साहनी, पूर्व केंद्रीय मंत्री एवं सांसद रघुवंश प्रसाद सिंह जैसे कई सांसदों ने केंद्र सरकार को पत्र लिखकर कड़ी आपत्ति दर्ज कराई थी ताकि यह बिल संसद में पेश नहीं किया जाये, परन्तु केंद्र सरकार ने बगैर कोई संसोधन के इस् बिल को लोक सभा में पेश कर दिया. प्रस्तावित विधेयक में जन सहभागिता के लिए कोई जगह नहीं है।

जैव विविधता के बारे में कार्टाजेना प्रोटोकॉल (जैव विविधता समझौते के तहत) के अनुच्छेद 23.2 में साफ कहा गया है कि जी0 एम0 के मामले में फैसला लेते समय जन सहभागिता भी सुनिश्चित की जानी चाहिए। भारत इस संधि का हस्ताक्षरकर्ता है। इससे एक तरफ राष्ट्र के नागरिकों के हक का भी हनन होगा और दूसरी तरफ पर्यावरण पर भी गंभीर खतरे के बादल मंडराने लगेंगे।

इस् विधेयक में कृषि और स्वास्थ्य पर राज्यों के संवैधानिक अधिकार को छीनने की कोशिश की गई है जो कि देश के संघीय ढ़ाँचें की व्यवस्था का घोर उल्लंघन है। प्रस्तावित विधेयक में राज्य सरकारों को राज्य बायोटेक्नोलॉजी नियामक सलाहकार समिति में सिर्फ सलाह देने तक ही सीमित रखा गया है। इसे दो कारणों से स्वीकारा नहीं जा सकता है। पहला कृषि और स्वास्थ्य राज्य का विषय है और दूसरा इसमें जैव विविधता कानून बनाने के राज्यों से अधिकार को छीना जा रहा है। ऐसे में यह फैसला जैव विविधता के संरक्षण और उसे बरकरार रखने के लिए एक विकेन्द्रीकृत प्राधिकरण की व्यवस्था का भी उल्लंघन है। खाशकर इस समय यह बिल बहुराष्ट्रीय कंपनियों के स्वार्थ में पेश किया गया है जब बिहार, केरल, मध्य प्रदेश, कर्नाटक, छत्तीसगढ़ ओडिशा एवं पश्चिम बंगाल जैसे राज्यों ने जी एम फसलों के परिक्षण को मना कर चुके हैं।

अब देश भर के हजारों गांव खुद को जीएम मुक्त घोषित कर रहे हैं।जी एम फ्री बिहार के संयोजक बबलू कुमार ने कहा कि यह जग जाहिर हो चुका है कि बिहार के मुख्य मंत्री के पहल पर बिहार में बी टी बैंगन की खेती एवं जी एम मक्के का परिक्षण रुका, साथ हीं एक नियम भी बन गया कि किसी तरह के परिक्षण के पूर्व राज्य सरकार की अनुमति आवश्यक होगी। फिर इस बिल का क्या अचित्य है? अतः उन्होंने मुख्य मंत्री बिहार से माँग की है कि जैसे बिहार सरकार ने बीज विधेयक पर किसानों के स्वार्थ में घनघोर आपत्ति की थी उसी प्रकार बिहार सरकार हमारी किसानी एवं पर्यावरण की रक्षा हेतु पुनः इस् बिल पर आपति प्रकट करते हुए केंद्र सरकार को अपने मंतव्य से अवगत करावे. उन्होंने कहा कि जिस तरह मध्य प्रदेश सरकार द्वारा कड़ी आपत्ति दर्ज करते हुए केंद्र को प्रस्ताव भेजा जा चुका है, उसी तरह बिहार सरकार भी अविलम्ब आपत्ति दर्ज करे ताकि हमारी किसानी बच सके।

अभी हाल में प्रसिद्ध कृषि वैज्ञानिक एम. एस. स्वामीनाथन ने कहा कि यह बिल महात्मा गाँधी की भावना के विरुद्ध है, जिसमे खाशकर जैव परिवर्धित फसलों की स्वीकृति के लिए एकल खिड़की की व्यवस्था है। साथ हीं सूचना के जन अधिकार का राष्ट्रीय अभियान से जुड़ीं राष्ट्रीय सलाहकार समिति की सदस्या एवं समाजसेवी अरुणा राय ने भी हाल में हीं प्रेस विज्ञप्ति के माध्यम से इस विधेयक के धारा 2, 28, 70, 77 पर कड़ी प्रतिक्रिया जाहिर करते हुए कहा कि इस विधेयक के पारित होने के बाद इससे संबंधित कोई भी सूचना प्राप्त नहीं होगा और उसे गोपनीय ठहरा दिया जाएगा जो कि सूचना के अधिकार अधिनियम 2005 का सरासर उल्लंघन है। जिससे भारतीय गणतंत्र के नागरिकों के अधिकारों का हनन होगा।

किसान-मजदूर गठबन्धन के प्रदेश अध्यक्ष कृष्णा सिंह ने कहा कि यह बिल बहुराष्ट्रीय कंपनियों के बहकावे में आकर केंद्र सरकार ने पेश किया है जिससे हमारी किसानी तबाह हो जायेगी, जिन जैव परिवर्धित बीजों (जी एम) को बिहार सरकार ने रोककर एक ऐतिहासिक कार्य किया है, अब इस् बिल के आ जाने के बाद पुनः काविज हो जायेगा. उन्होंने कहा कि अंतिम चरण तक हम इस् बिल के खिलाफ लड़ेंगे और जरूरत हुई तब गठबन्धन इस् के लिय आन्दोलन भी शुरू करेगा. खाद्य सुरक्षा पर बल देते हुए कहा कि यह भी ध्यान रखने योग्य है कि हमारा भोजन असुरक्षित होता जा रहा है। जीएम फसलों व खाद्यान्न के आने से उसके जहरीले होने की संभावना भी बढ़ गई है। इसीलिए इस बिल के पेश किये जाने का विरोध करने की जरूरत है।

GM-Free Bihar Movement Cries Foul Over BRAI Bill

Bill introduced despite opposition within and outside Parliament

Patna, 24th April 2013: The GM-Free Bihar Movement today expressed deep anguish at the Central Government’s action of introducing the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill 2013 in Parliament despite serious reservations of parliamentarians, scientists, civil society groups and farmers.

“This Bill, dubbed as a ‘wrong bill by the wrong people for wrong reasons’ in its various versions has been extremely controversial due to provisions facilitating the biotechnology industry at the expense of public good,” GM-Free Bihar Movement Convener Mr. Pankaj Bhushan said in a press release here.

The Bill’s flawed approach to regulation in trying to create a single window clearing house for products of modern biotechnology, instead of an express mandate to protect and uphold bio-safety given the acknowledged risks of modern biotechnology, has been opposed time and again.

“As we have reiterated on numerous occasions, the Bill is steeped in conflict of interest as the Ministry promoting biotechnology is about to house the regulator; it undermines the federal polity of our nation by overriding the authority of state governments, even though Agriculture is a State Subject as per the Indian Constitution. It also attempts to circumvent the right to information and transparency laws and is focussed on creating a three member technocratic, undemocratic and centralised decision making body. As the Bt brinjal moratorium decision shows us, even a more broad-based regulatory body had gone wrong with its decision-making – why can’t the government learn lessons from the past and aspire for a progressive legislation in the interest of Indian citizens and environment, rather than promote corporate interests?” Bhushan said.

The problems with this technology particularly in our food and farming systems, where the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are released into the environment are widely known and documented. “The Bill introduced in Parliament on April 22, 2013 overlooks the ever-increasing evidence on the impacts of GMOs on human health, biodiversity and socioeconomic aspects and lacks any scientific independent, long term assessment to look at the safety as well as the very need of GMOs before their open release.”

Bhushan termed the bill anti-farmer and anti-consumer, saying, if passed, it will only result in people losing control over food choices and seed sovereignty. “The bill should be withdrawn,” he demanded.

BACKGROUND:

The introduction of this Bill at this juncture is all the more shocking and unacceptable, given the following recommendation from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture which studied the subject in detail and presented its report to Parliament in August 2012:

The Government has been for some years now toying with the idea of a Biotechnology Regulatory Authority. The Committee feels that regulating biotechnology is too small a focus in the vast canvas of biodiversity, environment, human and livestock health, etc. and a multitude of other such related issues. They have, therefore, already recommended in a previous Chapter setting up of an all encompassing Bio-safety Authority through an Act of Parliament, which is extensively discussed and debated amongst all stakeholders, before acquiring shape of the law. Unless and until such an authority is in place, any further movement in regard to transgenics in agriculture crops will obviously be fraught with unknown consequences. (Section 8.120)

Analysing the lacunae of the existing regulation and studying the proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India, the Standing Committee said the following:

“In such a situation what the Country needs is not a biotechnology regulatory legislation but an all encompassing umbrella legislation on biosafety which is focused on ensuring the biosafety, biodiversity, human and livestock health, environmental protection and which specifically describes the extent to which biotechnology, including modern biotechnology, fits in the scheme of things without compromising with the safety of any of the elements mentioned above”.

The GM-Free Bihar Movement strongly urges that Parliamentarians cutting across the political spectrum should respond to this retrograde and anti-people bill and prevent the control over our food and seed by a few biotechnology majors.  Discussing the Bill in a limited context of a Standing Committee on Science & Technology would not suffice, given the large potential impact of the issue at hand.

We demand that the government show its sensitivity to the broad based opposition by withdrawing the bill. We urge Parliamentarians to ask for circulation to elicit  response and understand the importance and need to set up a Joint  Committee in this current instance (ideally headed by the Chairperson of the Agriculture Standing Committee, given its deep links to farmers’ livelihoods, an issue pertaining to the largest number of Indians).

Raghuvansh Prasad Singh: BRAI Bill – Bulldozing public opinion

The government has finalised the draft of the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill. A close reading of the draft shows that, on the one hand, this Bill intends to provide single-window clearance to genetically-modified (GM) crops promoted by multinational seed companies; on the other, it ignores the possible risks and threats to our agriculture, health and environment from this controversial technology.

The nation saw a widespread debate on Bt brinjal, the first GM food crop to have been considered for commercial cultivation in the country. Public consultations organised during that debate clearly highlighted the objections and concerns of all sections of society, including scientists, on GM foods in general and Bt brinjal in particular.

Despite the moratorium, there have been many efforts in the past several months to overlook the legitimate concerns over GM crops and this proposed regulatory system called BRAI is one such significant effort.Twelve state governments, including the largest brinjal-cultivating states – West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha – expressed their concerns with regard to this novel and unnatural GM food crop. The government responded rightly to the diverse voices all around and placed a moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal on February 9, 2010.

A hasty move in the wrong direction

The fact that the draft of the Bill was not put in the public domain and the haste with which the Bill was listed for tabling – it was given to the MPs just a few hours before its scheduled introduction in the Lok Sabha on August 17 – makes it clear that the government is in no mood for an informed debate either inside or outside Parliament on BRAI. It was thanks to the raging anti-corruption debates in the Lok Sabha that the Bill could not be introduced by the ministry of science and technology.

The problems with the current proposal of the regulatory system starts with the conflicting interest in which ministry is tabling the Bill, the ministry of science and technology that also has the mandate to promote GM crops in the country. The Bill also proposes to have an appellate tribunal that is the sole forum for redressal. This is a scary situation in which the promoter himself becomes the regulator, prosecutor and the judge. This is the recipe for a corrupt autocratic system.

One of the biggest issues with the current regulatory system, with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) as the nodal agency, was that it overrules the constitutional role of state governments in policy decisions regarding agriculture and health. After almost 13 years of existence and resistance to it, the GEAC recently amended its rules to give state governments the decision-making power on the approval of field trials, which is the first level of open release of GM crops. The proposed BRAI seeks to reverse this and take control of decisions related to any open releases of GM crops, be it for experiments or for commercialisation. This is clearly an unconstitutional move since agriculture and health, two sectors that would be impacted by GM crops, are under the state list of the Indian Constitution and states should have a role in deciding anything that has an impact on these sectors.

Adding to the unconstitutionality is the powers that have been given to the five-member Biotechnology Regulatory Authority to override the provisions in the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The provisions laid out in Section 2, Section 28, Section 70 and Section 77 of this Bill undermine the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression, and the right to life, by violating the provisions and protection of the RTI Act. And by preventing civil courts to have jurisdiction on any matter under the Act.

Anti-farmer and anti-people

This draft Bill clearly intends to circumvent opposition to GM and to facilitate the monopolisation of our seed sector by multinational seed giants like Monsanto. Besides having the wrong mandate, the proposals are completely sidestepping the precautionary approach and not addressing all the serious shortcomings of the existing regulatory regime. The BRAI proposal does not talk about the mandate of protecting India’s environment and health from the risks of modern biotechnology, which should be the primary mandate for any regulatory regime.

Given the growing concern in the country about the impact of GM crops to our health, our farmers livelihoods and food and seed sovereignty, it is high time that the government recognises it. Instead of coming up with such cantankerous legislations as the BRAI Bill to promote risky technologies like genetic modification, it should go after real solutions that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

In the light of public concern on GM crops and such blatant violations of constitutional rights in the current BRAI Bill version, the prime minister should not let his science and technology minister introduce the BRAI Bill in Parliament without widespread public consultations.

The author represents the Vaishali constituency of Bihar in the Lok Sabha and is a member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was Union cabinet minister for rural development in the first United Progressive Alliance Cabinet

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.

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

New WikiLeaks Cables Show US Diplomats Promote Genetically Engineered Crops Worldwide

by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

Dozens of United States diplomatic cables released in the latest WikiLeaks dump on Wednesday reveal new details of the US effort to push foreign governments to approve  genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the worldwide interests of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont.

The cables further confirm previous Truthout reports on the diplomatic pressure the US has put on Spain and France, two countries with powerful anti-GE crop movements, to speed up their biotech approval process and quell anti-GE sentiment within the European Union (EU).

Several cables describe “biotechnology outreach programs” in countries across the globe, including African, Asian and South American countries where Western biotech agriculture had yet to gain a foothold. In some cables (such as this 2010 cable from Morocco) US diplomats ask the State Department for funds to send US biotech experts and trade industry representatives to target countries for discussions with high-profile politicians and agricultural officials.

Truthout recently reported on front groups supported by the US government, philanthropic foundations and companies like Monsanto that are working to introduce pro-biotechnology policy initiatives and GE crops in developing African countries, and several cables released this week confirm that American diplomats have promoted biotech agriculture to countries like Tunisia, South Africa and Mozambique.

Cables detail US efforts to influence the biotech policies of developed countries such as Egypt and Turkey, but France continues to stand out as a high-profile target.

In a 2007 cable, the US embassy in Paris reported on a meeting among US diplomats and representatives from Monsanto, DuPont and Dow-Agro-sciences. The companies were concerned about a movement of French farmers, who were vandalizing GE crop farms at the time, and suggested diplomatic angles for speeding up EU approvals of GE Crops.

In 2008 cable describing a “rancorous” debate within the French Parliament over proposed biotech legislation, Craig Stapleton, the former US ambassador to France under the Bush administration, included an update on MON-810, a Monsanto corn variety banned in France.

Stapleton wrote that French officials “expect retaliation via the World Trade Organization” for upholding the ban on MON-810 and stalling the French GE crop approval process. “There is nothing to be gained in France from delaying retaliation,” Stapleton wrote.

Tough regulations and bans on GE crops can deal hefty blows to US exports. About 94 percent of soybeans, 72 percent of corn and 73 percent of the cotton grown in the US now use GE-tolerate herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup, according to the US Agriculture Department.

A 2007 cable, for example, reports that the French ban on MON-810 could cost the US $30 million to $50 million in exports.

In a 2007 cable obtained by Truthout in January, Stapleton threatened “moving to retaliate” against France for banning MON-810. Several other European countries, including Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria, have also placed bans on MON-810 in recent years. MON-810 is engineered to excrete the Bt toxin, which kills some insect pests.


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