Some NGOs here have demanded the withdrawal of a Bill which seeks to establish an independent regulator for the biotech sector, calling it "anti-people and pro-MNCs". The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on April 22.
The proposed regulator covers research, transport, import, manufacture and use of organisms and products of modern biotechnology. Coalition for a GM-Free India and Akhil Gujarat Sajiv Kheti Samaj (Gujarat unit of Organic Farming Association of India) have demanded withdrawal of the Bill, calling it a "retrograde" piece of legislation. Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Convenor of Coalition for a GM-Free India, Prashant Bhushan, its Co-convener, and Kapil Shah, Secretary of the state unit of the Association, said MPs across parties should oppose this "anti-people" Bill. This would prevent the government from handing over control of India's food and seed to a few multi-national companies in the biotechnology sector, they said. They alleged that the Congress-led UPA Government has tabled a "deeply flawed" Bill despite strong opposition within and outside Parliament. "How can promoter of the Bill (Science and Technology Ministry) become a regulator when various other Ministries, including Environment, Forests and Agriculture, are involved in this subject?" Bhushan asked. Radhakrishnan claimed that "the Bill overlooks the ever-increasing evidence on impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on human health, biodiversity and socio-economic aspects." Terming the Bill as "anti-farmer and anti-consumer," they demanded it be withdrawn.