MPs seek BRAI bill withdrawal

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) A group of MPs Friday urged the government to withdraw the “controversial” Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill that was tabled in parliament a few days ago.

In a letter to Union Minister of Science and Technology Jaipal Reddy, the group of 16 MPs cutting across party lines, asked the minister to withdraw the bill for thorough pre-legislation consultations.

“This is to bring to your notice our utmost disappointment at the manner in which the controversial Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill was introduced to you on the first day of parliament,” the MPs said in the letter.

The group includes Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Basudev Acharya, Thambidurai of AIADMK, Telugu Desam Party’s Nama Nageswar Rao and Arjun Charan Sethi of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

Stating the bill was the “single window clearance mechanism” for genetically modified (GM) crops in the country, the group said: “There is a growing scientific evidence on the adverse impacts of GM crops on the safety of our food, farming and environment.”

The group said that the introduction of the bill appeared to be an attempt by the government to circumvent the opposition on GM crops in the country.

“The BRAI is deeply flawed and some of the major concerns with this bill is that there is an inherent conflict of interest as it is housed under the ministry, which are also promoters of GM crops,” the parliamentarians stated.

“The introduction of the BRAI bill was unexpected as the parliament standing committee on agriculture recommended to the government that BRAI was not the way forward to regulate GM crops. Instead, there should be a bio-safety protection regime which puts the safety of citizens and environment before the industry,” the group said.

The MPs said that instead of BRAI, a bio-safety protection law needs to be brought in its place through effective and widespread pre-legislative consultations.

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