Civilians plea for scrapping Biotech bill

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New Delhi, Jul 26: 'The Coalition For GM-Free India', representing farmers' unions and civil society organisations sought scrapping of the National Biotechnology Regulatory Bill-2008 pleading that ''its provisions are unscientific, undemocratic and amenable to reduce Indians as 'guinea pigs' for the promotion of Genetically Modified (GM) crops and GM foods.''

The Bill envisages setting up a National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority (NBRA) for ensuring a 'single widow' provision for speedy clearance of GM organisms and products. Such fast clearance mechanism is being put in place to facilitate the approval and propogation in India of GM organisms and products being developed by Monsanto and multinational companies, said a communique issued by the farmer leaders and experts from civil societies network after a-day-long deliberations here.

Being hurriedly pushed through, the Bill fixes a deadline for public feedback on July 30 to circumvent any worthwhile discussion organised in public domain by scientific community or arranged by the Department of Biotechnology (DGT), which has mooted the Bill, said Dr Devinder Sharma, a noted food and trade policy analyst.

''The proposed mechanism is an express clearing house for fast track approvals in favour of the biotech industry, at the expense of health and environment requisites,'' he added.

The NBRA proposals have been drawn up by the wrong people for the wrong reasons with the wrong perspectives, said Mr Yudhvir Singh, a leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union. And the proposed Authority , he said, ''Denies and violates constitutional rights of the states on their agriculture and citizens rights to remain GM-free.'' This also creates a hurdle to progressive decisions made by the states including Kerala on implementating organic farming policies to protect farmers interests and imposes GM crops everywhere, Mr Singh said.

UNI

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