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Anti-GM activists appeal CMs to reject BRAI Bill

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The Coalition for a GM-Free India has written letters to the Chief Ministers of all the states requesting them to oppose BRAI Bill at the upcoming National Development Council (NDC) in order to safeguard the health of the people and sustainability of our farming from GM crops. The NDC meeting is slated for October 22, where the approach paper to the upcoming 12th five-year plan is being discussed.

The coalition has written to the CMs that the approach paper explicitly states promotion of GM crops, a health and environmental hazard, as GM crops today are seen globally as one of the biggest threats to sustaining agriculture. Civil society as well as scientists and various State Governments have been opposing the entry of Genetically Modified (GM) Crops in India.

The Union Government is planning to bring about a new regulatory system for GM crop approvals in India. The Bill called Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, 2011, has been listed for tabling in the upcoming winter session of the parliament. This new legislation is seen by activists as an overt effort to push GM crops in the country. The Bill proposes to put in place a centralised technocratic body which will take all decisions on the approval of GM crops with absolutely no role for the Indian public or their elected representatives in the decision making.

The coalition letter specifically pointed out that besides lowering the bar for GM crop approvals, the new regulatory system is also unconstitutional as it explicitly overrides the powers of the state governments on matters related to agriculture and health. It reminded the states that it was the opposition by 13 state governments that put the Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop under a moratorium. The proposed BRAI negates the powers of State to reject GM crops and protect state's interests, says the coalition for GM-free India.

The Coalition also requested the Chief Minister to ask the Union Government to withdraw the bill in its current form and ensure that state governments and the public are consulted before any regulation on GM crops is put in place as it is a question of safety and sustainability of our food and farming.

The Coalition urged the Chief Ministers to take up the cause of ecologically and socially farming for our sustainable future.

Write to d-sector  |  Editor's Note

 Other Articles by d-sector Team in
Human Development  > Food > GM Food and Concerns

Civil society demands immediate halt on all GMO field trails
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kerala government intends to ban GM crops
Wednesday, April 07, 2010

EU approves controversial Amphora potato
Thursday, March 04, 2010

After India, GM food worries China
Thursday, February 25, 2010

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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