Experts Question Approval of Bt Brinjal
Violates Cartagena Protocol & Precautionary Principle
New Delhi 28/1/2010: THE claimed benefits and the apparent risks emerging from inadequate regulatory and monitoring systems of the proposed introduction of Bt Brinjal, a transgenic variety of brinjal were rigorously examined at a Colloquium organised by the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH), School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, in collaboration with Hazards Centre, New Delhi on the 27th of January.
Taking cognisance of the valid questions raised about the conflict of interest ridden Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the experts recommended adoption of precautionary principles and adherence to Cartagena protocol of which India is a party. The experts at the Colloquium felt that Bt Brinjal requires to be further studied by a trans-disciplinary, independent and impartial team of scientists keeping in mind the short-term and long-term consequences of genetic pollution linked acute and chronic toxicity of food chain.
The Colloquium adopted the following Resolution.
The Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in collaboration with Hazards Centre, New Delhi, organised a Colloquium on Bt Brinjals on the 27th of January 2010. Attended by students and faculty, the house resolved as follows.
Various issues are unresolved about the problematic nature of transgenic technologies in general and Bt in particular. One core issue was the competence, the transparency and the conflict of interest in the regulatory process prior to the grant of licence to market Bt brinjal.
Safety issues have not been adequately dealt with both in terms of food safety and environmental safety. Long-term studies on allergicity and toxicity have not been carried out prior to approval.
We are also concerned about the implications for food security for the country. It is not desirable to hand over the control of seeds to transnational monopolies. To ensure that access to seed is ensured, the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime must retain farmer’s rights and must not reduce flexibilities in Indian law.
As per the Cartagena protocol, to which India is a signatory, transgenic versions of crops for which we are the country of origin should not be permitted. Mexico, China and Peru follow this protocol. Thus transgenic varieties of Bt brinjal cannot be permitted in India.
A system of post-release monitoring must be put in place before commercial release is allowed into the environment to assess the performance and impact. Exhaustive socio-economic studies are necessary to assess the impact of transgenic crops on traditional agricultural systems and indigenous crops.
A proper system of labelling of GM crops must be put in place with public awareness to enable informed choices.
A system of public participation in decision- making and in regulatory bodies must be put in place. All regulatory data and bio-safety data should be available to the public.
A law of liability must also be in place before commercial release is permitted so that companies are liable to health and environmental damage that might ensue.
Till such systems are in place, this house calls for a moratorium on all transgenic crops.
The herbicide tolerant trait should not be permitted in India as this will displace agricultural labour and destroy valuable plants used as food, fodder and medicines.
There is indeed an acute agrarian crisis in the country. The solution to this does not lie in GM technologies. There are cheaper, safer, healthier options that must be explored and supported.
The participants included eminent experts like Dr Pushpa Bhargava, Founder Director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Prof. Mohan Rao, Professor, CSMCH, JNU, Prof. Deepak Pental, Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi, Dr. Suman Sahai, Convener, Gene Campaign, Dr. Rama Baru, Professor, CSMCH, JNU, Dr N. Raghuram, School of Biotech, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Dr K.C. Bansal, Professor, National Research Centre on Plant Biotech, IARI, Prof. K.J. Mukherjee, School of Biotechnology, JNU and Dunu Roy, Director, Hazards Centre.
The Colloquium was preceded by a letter sent by CSMCH to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The resolution of the Colloquium would be sent to the Union Agriculture Ministry and Union Health Ministry shortly besides the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The program of the Colloquium is attached.
For Details: Dr. Mohan Rao, Professor, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU
Phone: 26704490, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
0930 : Registration
10 00 : Inaugural Session
Prof. Mohan Rao, Professor, CSMCH, JNU
10 30 : Tea
10 45 – 12 00 hrs : Session I:
Benefits Claimed and Apparent Risks
Prof. Deepak Pental, Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi
Dr.Suman Sahai, Convener, Gene Campaign
12 00 – 13 30 : Session II :
Regulatory System and Concerns
Chair: Dr. Rama Baru, Professor, CSMCH, JNU.
Dr. K.Satyanarayana, Member of Exp Comm II, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee.
Dr. Pushpa Bhargava, Founder Director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology
13 30- 14 30 : Lunch
14 30 – 16 00- Session III :
Need for Bt Brinjal
Chair : Dr. N.Raghuram, School of Biotech, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprasth University.
Dr. K.C. Bansal, Professor, National Research Centre on Plant Biotech, IARI.
Dr. G.V Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture
16 00- 16 30 – Tea
16 30- 17 30-
Prof. K.J.Mukherjee, School of Biotechnology, JNU
Dunu Roy, Directror Hazards Centre
Vote of Thanks by Dr. Ramila Bisht, CSMCH, JNU
Note: Dr. G.V Ramanjaneyulu and Dr. K.Satyanarayana could not come for the program.
- ▼ 2010 (3)