OPPOSE THE INTRODUCTION OF BRAI BILL, SLATED FOR BUSINESS ON 22ND NOV. 2011

Respected Member of Parliament,

Sub: OPPOSE THE INTRODUCTION OF BILL, SLATED FOR BUSINESS ON 22ND NOV. 2011

Namaste.

The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill is slated for Business on 22nd November 2011 in the Lok Sabha. This Bill and its introduction has already been opposed by several MPs cutting across party lines. While some have expressed their views in opinion pieces, others have written to the Prime Minister asking him to scrap the Bill or not introduce it in haste. These include MPs from BJP, CPM, RJD, JD-U, Independent etc.

Why should the Bill be not introduced?:

– A Ministry promoting modern biotechnology (Ministry of Science & Technology) seeks to house the regulatory authority in this Bill – promoters cannot be regulators since there is an inherent conflict of interest.

– This regulatory Bill has as its objective, ‘promoting the safe use’ of the technology. For promoting a technology, a legislation is not needed. The need for regulation comes for only one reason: to protect our health and environment and people’s livelihoods from the risks of modern biotechnology. The Bill does not have this as an express mandate.

– The Bill has its implications on and impinges upon matters that are monitored by other independent laws, such as Environment Protection Act, Biological Diversity Act, Forest Rights Act, Forest Conservation Act, Food Safety and Standards Act, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, Panchayat Raj Act, Nagarpalika Act, Right to Information Act, to name but a few and keeps the powers of overriding effect on other laws with it. Such an overarching Bill needs greater debates which have not happened so far.

– The BRAI Bill is against the federal polity enshrined in the Constitution of India and the powers vested in the Panchayat Raj Institutions. It denies these institutions their authority over Agriculture, Health and natural resources and centralises decision-making in a narrow, technical body.

You can obtain more information on this Bill and its deep flaws by visiting:http://indiagminfo.org/?page_id=82. Please also let us know if there is any material that you need related to the subject that we might be able to support you with.

This Bill is deeply flawed and we urge you to oppose the introduction of the Bill by writing formally on your letterhead to the Speaker and the Secretary General of Lok Sabha urgently – kindly do so before 10 am on the 22nd of November, on the day when the Bill has been put into the List of Business. 

If it still gets introduced despite opposition from all quarters of society, kindly ensure that it at least goes to a joint committee of Agriculture/Health/Environment and S&T. Thank you.

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