EXTRACT: Interestingly, the letter by the three dissenting members was written after they received a letter from C Kameshwara Rao, executive secretary of Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, a Bangalore-based pro-GM group, asking them to "raise a protest..."
NOTE: More on this industry front group
And their complete disregard for the truth
3 members on GM panel back off from report
Nitin Sethi/TIMES NEWS NETWORK The Times of India, 2 June 2007 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/GM_panel_report_Members_back_off/articleshow/2093061.cms
NEW DELHI: In an intriguing development, three members of a Planning Commission taskforce on genetically modified organisms have dissociated themselves from the report submitted by the study group months after it was released.
The report had castigated existing GM regulatory authorities and rules, as TOI had reported earlier. But, in an odd coincidence, the letter, though shot off more than two months after the report was made public, was sent on the same day ”” April 11, 2007 ”” when the three members and other taskforce members received an e-mail request from a pro-GM group. The e-mail warned that the report could be used to support a certain argument in an ongoing Supreme Court case where an argument has been made out by a petitioner against GM trials in India.
The three members - Deepak Pental, vice-chancellor of Delhi University, Sudhir Sopory of International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, and Satish Raina of Nath Biogene (India) Ltd - said in the letter, "We disassociate ourselves from any recommendations made that seek to impose a moratorium for commercialisation of GM crops. We have not received any communication from the Planning Commission or from the chairman of the taskforce for formal discussions on the recommendations." Speaking to TOI, Pental said, "I don't remember the matter. But I did not agree with the form in which the report was presented."
But correspondence in possession with TOI shows that chairperson of the taskforce, Suman Sahai, head of a Delhi-based organisation Gene Campaign, had sent the final draft way back on November 28 for review of the taskforce.
Sahai had stated: "The TF report as final draft is attached... regrettably many of you did not provide any inputs. However, if you have last minute comments before the deadline, please send them to me and I will be happy to incorporate them." Other correspondence shows that Sahai had regularly updated them on the proceedings.
Not receiving any comments from the three members, the report was then sent to the Plan panel excluding the names of two of the three from the authorship, as they had not made any submissions throughout the life of the taskforce. The commission put up the report on its website in February 2007.
Interestingly, the letter by the three dissenting members was written after they received a letter from C Kameshwara Rao, executive secretary of Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, a Bangalore-based pro-GM group, asking them to "raise a protest against which aspects of the issue" they did not agree with. Sopory said, "A lot of discussions were done on e-mail which is not proper and my e-mail was not working for a while so I was not able to respond." He did not confirm or deny if he had received the final report in advance for comments. But correspondence shows he had earlier written to Sahai stating: "Due to some personal work I had to come to US... I will not be able to attend the meetings. I am sorry that I am unable to contribute my bit. May be you can co-opt another member."