Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill in Parliament

(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)

The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill is to be introduced in the Monsoon session.The ostensible stand of scientists defending genetic engineering technology in seed production is that utmost priority to a product’s impact on humans, plants, animals and environment shall be given.

The first problem arises out of the claim that “scientists are experts in their respective areas of specialization.” This is farthest from truth. It is a known fact nearly all Agriculture biotechnology scientists have sold their souls to the seeds multinational corporations and work for them; only a handful remain “independent” and increasingly under pressure to fall in line. In fact, how systematically just a handful of powerful seeds corporations destroyed scientific integrity of world’s leading scientific establishments itself serves as hard evidence of what the present “scientific establishments” have become.

The second problem arises out of lack of transparency. The Bill was earlier prepared under Official Secrets Act . Why? Was national security at stake?

In fact, yes. The Bill undermines national security, it undermines food security and food sovereignty, and it seeks to compromise public health. Since the Bill seeks to destroy three vital aspects of India as a nation. Please remember, India is the last bastion of food mega-diversity and seed mega-diversity. Until and unless the seed system and food system come under control of just five multinational corporations based in the USA and EU, they are not going to rest.

The third problem is that the Bill seeks to give primacy to genetically engineered seeds. Why should company manufactured seeds have primacy over farmer saved and farmer bred seeds? Is corporate profiteering more important that people health and India’s food security?

The fourth problem is the silence on “polluter pays” principle. Thus far the polluters have not paid, not compensated any farmer for destroying their natural or organic farms anywhere in the world. Only when farmers lodged court cases that in some instances some have been compensated but not to the extent they should have been.

The tide is slowly turning in some countries and we in India are not far behind. The producers of conventional and genetically-modified (GM) crops and the users of proprietary pesticides and herbicides that accompany them are now facing serious legal battles from natural and organic farmers.

All four issues raised here stem from basic human rights. If the Bill does not address even one of these, it should be scrapped.



(Editorial : Kisan Ki Awaaz Magazine)