New Delhi, May 21, (IBNS): The contentious Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill which was tabled in the budget session of the parliament by Union Science & Technology Minister Jaipal Reddy has been sent to the Standing Committee of Science and Technology, Environment and Forests for reviewing and recommendations.
The introduction of the bill saw strong opposition from Members of Parliament (MPs) from more than ten political parties and a host of civil society organisations as well as individuals including National Advisory Council members like Aruna Roy.
BRAI Bill, though listed for introduction in 2011, had been in a limbo for the last three years owing to concerns both inside and outside the Parliament about it becoming a single window clearance mechanism which will lower the bar for open releases of Genetically Modified Organisms into the environment. There is a growing scientific evidence on the negative impacts of GMOs including GM crops on human health, environment and farm livelihoods.
Due to the controversial nature of the Bill and its flawed mandate, it was demanded by several MPs that the Bill be referred to a Joint Committee of the Houses so that a comprehensive debate on it could occur.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, in their report on GM crops last year, had strongly recommended to the government to bring a regulatory system with the primary mandate to safeguard Biosafety from negative impacts of GM crops instead of such proposals like BRAI.
Greenpeace India has also urged the members of the Parliamentary standing committee on Science and Technology and Environment to uphold the interests of citizens and recommend the withdrawal of the BRAI Bill, 2013.
The Parliamentary standing committee must recommend 're-dressing' the BRAI Bill for liability. The opening lines of the Bill make mention of the international treaty it attempts to implement, i.e. the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its sub-treaty, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. However it fails to acknowledge its latest and perhaps most critical sub-protocol -- the Nagoya – Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress (N-KL SP), the text of which was adopted at CBD meetings at Nagoya, Japan in October 2010. The Protocol makes it mandatory for countries to enact domestic rules and procedures providing for liability and redress for damage to biological diversity resulting from transboundary movements of living modified organisms (LMOs).