Dear Dr. Warrier,
With reference to your email and phone call at late evening yesterday, we would like to say the following from the Coalition.
(1) After several letters to the GEAC in the past few months on the GM mustard issue, this is the first time GEAC appears to have taken cognizance and responded. We also know that this response from you, which appears to be just a last ditch public relations affair, has come only after enormous public pressure and outrage regarding the way the GEAC and the whole GM regulatory system is functioning, and the way Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change has allowed you to function.
(2) However, we are surprised that instead of a formal response from the Chairperson or Member Secretary of GEAC to whom we have addressed our letters, we received a phone call from you even though you are no longer the member secretary of the GEAC. It reinforces our concerns about the very casual manner in which GEAC is handling such an important responsibility of regulating GM crops.
(3) It is shocking that the Co-Convenor of the Coalition who is in Kerala is getting a phone call at 7 p.m. to attend a meeting the very next morning at New Delhi. Clearly, the GEAC is not serious about our joining the meeting.
(4) We are ready to, and would like to, meet with the GEAC at a properly scheduled meeting and make a presentation. But this cannot be shrouded in secrecy. We find it outrageous that the GEAC meetings are being held in secrecy, that the GEAC minutes are not being made public, and its members sworn to strict confidentiality. We want to place on record that this is a clear reversal and violation of set practices, administrative and legal.
(5) We strongly question the GEAC once again about why the Biosafety data and reports are not being made public. This has been the long-standing demand of all of us including scientists, farmer unions and civil society organizations, and the Supreme Court has also issued directions to this effect. It is shocking that GEAC is blatantly flouting the Supreme Court orders.
(6) Moreover, GEAC and RCGM have thoroughly discredited themselves by not addressing serious conflict of interest issues, inspite of the matter being raised by many, including the Coalition. The method in which this has been resolved in the GEAC presently is completely unacceptable and would do nothing to avoid the conflict. GEAC seems to revere in behaviour that are unacceptable from a regulatory agency – conflict of interest, secretive functioning, non-transparency, flouting Supreme Court orders, and its non-readiness to subject publicly critical biosafety data and reports to independent expert analysis.
Given all the above, we demand the immediate release of the entire Biosafety dossier of GM Mustard and other crops that the regulators hold at this point of time. We believe that a meeting with GEAC will be meaningful only after the data is released and independent analysis done. We would also like to engage with GEAC on larger issues that should govern regulation and employing clear policy directives in the same.
We believe that the GEAC has failed the nation in its responsibility of thoroughly appraising and regulating Genetically Modified Organisms. While the current GM mustard in case is where GEAC could have redeemed the erosion of credibility and faith that the regulators lost when it cleared Bt brinjal that was subsequently placed under indefinite moratorium, by rejecting the application on certain basic grounds, which the GEAC had not done. We think it is not too late to reinstate real scientific rigour and spirit into GEAC’s raison d’etre: to protect health and nature from risks of modern biotechnology.
Mr Hem Pande, Chair, GEAC;
Mr Prakash Javadekar, MoEFCC, GoI
Members of the GEAC.
On 4 February 2016 at 19:19, WARRIER <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Dear Mr Radhakrishnan