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India: Bt Brinjal - On the need for securing biosafety

Media Release From Indian Biodiversity Forum

by Indian Biodiversity Forum, 25 November 2009

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Media Release

From: S Faizi
- Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009
- To: ’jairam54 at gmail.com’; ’envisect at nic.in’
- Subject: Bt Brinjal: On the need for securing biosafety

Shri Jayaram Ramesh
- Hon Minister of Envt and Forests
- New Delhi

Honourable Minister,

We are deeply concerned about the approval by the GEAC of the Bt Brinjal for field introduction in the country. We appeal you to reject the decision of GEAC and to secure the national biosafety. GM food poses a new and serious threat to biodiversity, human health and local economy. It is based on outdated science that does not take cognizance of the complexity of the DNA, proteins, RNA system within a given cytoplasm and clings to the dogma of one-gene-one-protein (while, in human body for example, there are hardly 40000 genes, there are over a lakh different proteins). However, in the event the Ministry is going ahead with the approval for introduction of Bt Brinjal, even before the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on the pending case on GM crops in the country, we would urge you to institute the following measures before the crop is introduced on our farms and its produce appears on our markets, in line with India’s commitment to Article 8.g of the Biodiversity Convention and its Cartegena Biosafety Protocol:

1) Mandatory labeling

Before the release of GM food into the environment (farm, market), legal provision should be created for the mandatory labeling of such food. This is in line with the model of countries that have allowed a few GM food on their markets. Labeling must be required for LMOs, GM food, feed and processed material.

2) Regulatory capacity building

The national capacity to regulate and inspect such food should also be created. The institutional capacity for monitoring genetic contamination of natural crops from GM crops should be established. Several independent labs should be established (or capacity enhancement of existing ones) in different parts of the country for the ready determination of GM content in LMOs and GM food- both qualitatively and quantitatively.

3) Liability and compensation

In line with the principle of liability and compensation contained in the Rio Declaration which has been legalized by the Biodiversity Convention, a national law should be created to hold entities responsible for the adverse environmental, health and economic consequences of the introduction of GM crops/food and to elicit compensation from such entities. The provision of liability also should be extended to the public servants sitting on regulatory bodies bearing the mandate of protecting the nation from such adverse impacts by neglecting the precautionary principle that is central to international environmental law as well as the country’s jurisprudence.

4) No forcing on unwilling states

Several state govts have, in public interest, already expressed their rejection of the GM crop in their respective states. Agriculture being a state subject, separate approval from the state concerned should be required before GM crop is introduced in that state.

Sincerely,

On behalf of the Indian Biodiversity Forum:

S.Faizi
- Ecologist
- R2 Saundarya Apartments
- Nandavanam, Thiruvananthapuram-33
- ecology(at)dataone.in
- Mob 09497265081

Dr Dhrubajyoti Ghosh
- Vice Chair- South Asia, IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management
- Flat # 3A, 370/1 L NSC Bose Road
- Kolkata 700047
- ghoshdj.in(at)gmail.com
- mob 91-9433823497

Dr. DPS Verma,
- Ex Principal Chief Conservator of Forests
- Green City,
- 18A/ Sector-26, GANDHINAGAR-382028
- Gujarat
- dpsverma(at)rediffmail.com
- mob. 09428502500