Here are some of the problems with this bill:
The approval of GM crops would be based on a presumption that GM crops are a potential solution to all agricultural problems and that the country’s food security crisis can be resolved by introducing GM crops. On the contrary, many scientists agree to fact that real solutions for today’s agricultural problems are in ecological farming methods.
The approvals also presume that the safety of a GM crop can be best assessed by the company which stands to benefit from the approval.
The bill proposes a centralised, technocratic decision making authority with no scope for democratic intervention. The apex authority is the BRAI with a chairperson and two members, all scientists with either a biotech or a health background.
BRAI gives no role to state governments in the approval of GM crops even though agriculture is a state subject under the Indian constitution.
BRAI sits inside the Ministry of Science and technology creating serious conflict of interest.Dept of Biotechnology – under the Ministry of Science &Technology, has the mandate of promotion of GE crops. DBT funds several GE crop development projects using public funds and is the nodal agency for redirecting funds from foreign governments to GE crop development projects.
Sections of the bill super cede the Right to Information Act and place the decision to disclose information for public interest with the authority instead of the Central Information Commission or the Delhi high court. The BRAI would kill any informed public debate on GE crops in future, one of the aspects that helped in stopping Bt Brinjal.
BRAI kills consumer choice and promotes GE polluters as it has no provision for labeling of GE crops, or liability of the crop developer due to economic losses by contamination.
There is a need re-draft the bill, first with an effort to disclose the draft bill and hold public consultations and take in suggestions and issues that are concerning the all citizens of our country.
With the Government failing us by giving an approval for the BRAI bill, our hope lies with the National Advisory Council under your chairpersonship. The fact that the council pro-actively and effectively intervened in the drafting of two important legislations, the Food Security bill and the Communal Violence bill and is doing so with many others, gives us confidence that you will heed the concerns of us citizens and would stop the bill from being tabled in the Parliament in its present form.