State joins campaign against BT regulatory authority

The Bill formulated by the Science and Technology Ministry is a blatant attempt to bulldoze public resistance and genuine concerns over genetically modified crops, said Ananth Hegde Ashisar of the Western Ghats Task Force.

Addressing the media, Ashisar said a meeting was convened to discuss the various nuances of the Bill, where there was a joint consensus that the Bill should be scrapped.

Ashisar said the Bill would deny the state governments its Constitutional authority over agriculture and health. He also said the BRAI mechanism makes the regulatory system even weaker than the existing Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) mechanism. He also demanded that the Members of Parliament should oppose this Bill.

Why the opposition?
* The Bill is being introduced by the wrong ministry. To prevent risks to the health and safety of people and to the environment and biological diversity in particular, the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Environment and Forests should host the proposed autonomous regulatory authority.

* The Bill envisages only an advisory role for the state governments in the form of “State Biotechnology Regulatory Advisory Committees” with no decision-making powers.

*  It seeks to classify information as Confidential Commercial Information leaving it to the discretion of officials of the Authority to share or not share information. The Bill also has clauses on oath of secrecy.

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