DON'T FORGET THE BBC 'BITTER HARVEST' SERIES FOR MORE ON THE PLIGHT OF INDIAN FARMERS:
Farm bodies cry foul over GEAC stand on Bt cotton
ASHOK B SHARMA
Financial Express, April 27, 2005
NEW DELHI, APRIL 26: Regulatory authority Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has once again come under sharp criticism by voluntary organisations for its "arbitrary nature and non-transparent procedures".
The Secunderabad-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) and the Delhi-based Gene Campaign, which had recently deposed before the GEAC in connection with the review of the performance of Bt cotton, have alleged that the regulator is behaving in a partisan manner.
In a joint letter to GEAC chairman Suresh Chandra, CSA executive director Dr GV Ramanjaneyulu and Gene Campaign director Dr Suman Sahai have alleged that the evidences of Bt cotton failure which they provided were not included in the minutes of the meetings. Rather the minutes of the meetings contained responses of seed companies on some questions raised by GEAC.
Both Dr Ramanjaneyulu and Dr Sahai alleged that the invitation to the voluntary organisations by GEAC was a hoax and pretence to show that the authority was engaged in consultations with the civil society. They said that they were allowed to make five-minute presentations. The questions they raised were not answered by any members of the GEAC.
The leaders of the voluntary organisations claimed that their studies on failure of Bt cotton were prepared and assisted by a team of scientists. Dr Ramanjaneyulu had presented the CSA study at 52nd meeting of GEAC on March 4. The minutes of the meeting are posted on the websites without the inputs provided by Dr Ramanjaneyulu.
Dr Sahai presented the Gene Campaign study at the 53rd meeting of GEAC on April 13. On her repeated questions about the procedures for approval of new varieties of Bt cotton, while the old varieties are still under review, she was told by the GEAC chairman, "The government is not answerable to NGOs."