Citing an opinion poll that says 80 per cent of people surveyed favoured the right to say no to government's decision on genetically modified (GM) food, an NGO on Friday sought withdrawal of the proposed "flawed" bill aimed at setting up a biotechnology regulatory authority.
"A total of 5,599 citizens across various socio-economic levels, age and income groups in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Guwahati and Indore were contacted. The poll gives a much-needed perspective on citizens' views on GM food," Jai Krishna, a Greenpeace campaigner, said.
Giving details of the poll conducted by a marketing firm GfK on behalf of Greenpeace, he said about 33 per cent of people had heard about either Bt Brinjal or GM food. Only 27 per cent said they understood what GM food is.
"A majority of the respondents, almost 78 per cent, stated that they have the right to information on all aspects of GM crops before the government makes irreversible decisions on GM food," Krishna said.
He said since 80 per cent of citizens said that they have the right to protest or reject government decisions related to commercialisation of GM food, the proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill must be withdrawn as it had a "flawed regulatory regime".
"The bill establishes a bureaucratic decision-making system and prevents intervention of elected representatives or other ministries, even state governments, violating their constitutional rights over the approval of GM crops," Greenpeace members said.
Greenpeace also objected to a clause in the bill that gives authority to supersede information requested under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The survey, which was done to assess awareness and perception of urban citizens on GM food, particularly Bt Brinjal, also found that a majority of people trust government agencies for both testing and certification of GM food instead of GM seeds companies.