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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

MP echoes hostility to bio regulatory bill

Sravani Sarkar, Hindustan Times  Bhopal, July 17, 2013
First Published: 10:44 IST(17/7/2013) | Last Updated: 10:48 IST(17/7/2013)

The MP government has once again made its opposition to the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India ( BRAI) bill very clear, with the state agriculture minister telling the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology and Forests that the ‘bill in its current form was totally unacceptable’.

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After West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh is the second state in country to strictly oppose the bill, which is presently with the Parliamentary Standing Committee, after being presented in the parliament last session.

Agriculture minister Ramkrishn Kusmaria has said: “Send as a feedback as sought by the parliamentary committee in context of the bill that such a body (biotechnology regulatory authority), which is centralised, non-transparent and biased is a sure recipe for corruption and a serious threat to food and seed sovereignty.”

The minister has said that the setting up of the authority would lead to opening the floodgates for dangerous genetically modified food in the country.

The parliamentary committee should take cognisance of the broad and strong objections to the bill, Kusmaria said.

“Any bill to regulate biotechnology ( and environmental release of genetically modified organisms in particular) should ensure that the state government and public are consulted as it is a question of safety and sustainability of our food, health, environment, trade and farming,” the minister’s letter stated.

Earlier too, the MP government had written to the Union science and technology minister Jaipal Reddy, opposing the bill.

The stand of the state government is that the country requires a bio-safety mechanism and not an authority that could provide early clearance to genetically modified food.

The minister has listed out several objections to the bill in its current form, mainly the fact the bill allegedly overrides the state government’s authority over health and agriculture and grants explicit authority to the Centre to deal with biotechnology.

This is in direct conflict with the constitutional provisions, the minister has said.

Objections have been raised on the fact that individuals and states are refrained from going to court if harmed or suffer from the impacts of the technology, as the bill specifies that only the appellate tribunal can be approached in the first instance.

Also, the bill has no mechanism of transparency and also bypasses citizens’ rights by overriding the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

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