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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bt brinjal - inching to our plates? wake up!!

There has been mention of Bt brinjal here and here..

A very important GEAC meeting is to take place on 27th April on BT Brinjal.

This is following the Moratorium that was passed by the MOEF under Mr.Jairam Ramesh last year against the commercial release of BT Brinjal. after that historic public consultations by him! One of the first times a democratic process in full flow in India, thanks to Mr.Jairam Ramesh, happened then. Amongst the various issues raised by the Minister for Environment & Forests in his moratorium decision note, there was a crucial point on alternatives to chemical pesticides.

Now a 16 member panel meets on 27th April to review the situation!

Meanwhile there were also lots of questions around the members of this panel itself, because many were seen to be part of the GM industry and were obviously floating in conflict of interest. The constitution of this 16 member panel is very questionable. No social scientists or genetic toxicologist!

There has been no improvement on the ground situation from the time Moratorium came in to effect.No specific development to re-consider Bt brinjal at all. Infact there has been major setback for this technology and GMO food in general with many independent analysis and tests across the globe showing inadequacy of safety of these foods as well as risk assessment.

No independent analysis or testing conducted by the industry nor the regulatory Govt body.

The independent analyses that was undertaken by American and New Zealand scientists (Prof David Andow and Dr. Lou Gallagher) of the Bt brinjal biosafety dossiers of the company (Mahyco) have already shown that the test protocols were inadequate, that findings were masked or wrong interpretations made, and that our regulators don't take up detailed independent analysis, leave alone independent testing!

All of this is apart from what emerged during the bt brinjal debate, which includes what state governments and their experts pointed out and what jairam ramesh himself pointed out in terms of lack of conclusive evidence on the safety, including through long term tests for chronic impacts etc. The entire bt brinjal biosafety dossier as it exists today should just be rejected.

Ofcourse when so many scientists across the globe questions its safety and necessity, there is no urgency to consider the commercial release of the Bt brinjal.

Especially when sensible states like Bihar are even asking for ban of GM trials where is the question of commercial release?

Beyond biosafety, it is clear that issues around farmers’ rights and sustainable livelihoods, as well as consumers’ rights have not been addressed so far. It is also known that there is no liability regime in place with regard to GMOs in our food and farming so far in India.

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