February 28, 2012
Shri M F Farooqui,
Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee,
Ministry of Environment & Forests,
Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi 3.
Dear Shri Farooqui,
Sub: Field Trials of GM Crops in Gujarat violative of EPA 1989 rules
It has come to light through responses to RTI queries that the GM crop field trials that are taking place in the state of Gujarat are violative of the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act , Rules (1989 ). As you are aware, as per the 1989 Rules the State Biotechnology Coordination Committee (SBCC) is supposed to be the state-level implementation arm of the GEAC .
However, when asked about the SBCC in an RTI application, the Forests and Environment Department responded by saying that the Agriculture and Cooperation department is the nodal department in the case of Gujarat vide notification no. EPN-1099-GOI-64-P (Part-II) dated 4th February 2004, while the Agriculture Department responded first by saying that it pertains to the Forest & Environment Department, and later amended that the work of SBCC meeting is not being done by this (Agriculture & Cooperation) department.
This clearly violates the provisions of the 1989 Rules and thereby the GM crop field trials taking place in Gujarat are illegal. This is dangerous and particularly so in a situation where violations by companies during GM crop field trials have become rampant in different states. In the recent past two instances of violations were notified to GEAC. Field trials taking place without adequate biosafety oversight is a serious threat to biodiversity and could lead to contamination and other problems. The possibility of contamination has been most recently experienced in India, with the ICAR/UAS Bt cotton Bikaneri Narma incident, where this Bt cotton was found to be contaminated by a Monsanto Bt gene.
Violation during field trials is not the only problem, particularly with respect to Gujarat. The state has the unfortunate distinction of being the origin of illegal GM cotton planting incidents. Both times, with Bt cotton and recently with BT/HT cotton, illegal plantings have been reported to have originated from Gujarat. In this context it is doubly unsafe to allow GM crop field trials in the state without proper oversight as envisaged in the EPA 1989 rules.
In view of this we seek that all GM crop field trials in Gujarat be stopped with immediate effect.
Expecting your response and necessary action
Convener, Coalition for a GM-Free India,
H-3, Jawahar Nagar, Kawdiar,
CC : Smt.Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister for Environment & Forests
Attachment: RTI responses from Gujarat. ( http://indiagminfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Guj-GM-field-trials-RTI-info-illegal.pdf )