India’s Gm Scandal: Bt Brinjal Blessing Rigged

Now it tin dismiss hold upward told. The environmental clearance past times an Expert Committee (called EC-II) laid past times the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) to accord blessing to the controversial genetically modified crop — Bt brinjal — was truly rigged. This was never inward doubt, except that this fourth dimension Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for GM Free Republic of Republic of India has real meticulously joined the dots to bring out this shocker.

As a consumer, you lot demand to empathize how you lot are probable to be served poisonous nutrient past times a bunch of people (who operate inward the mention of scientists) whose alone task is to promote the commercial interests of the private seed together with biotech companies. The conflict of involvement of most of the members of the EC-II comes out clearly in this exposure.

The entire regulatory organization has inward fact locomote subservient to the U.S.A. interests. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research is straightaway completely inward the hands of the U.S.A. Artificial Insemination Department (USAID), together with so is the Department of Biotechnology. And if you lot recall the Ministry for Health together with Family Welfare is whatever better, you lot just induce got to walk into the corridors of the ministry. You tin dismiss take heed the whispers clearly.

Ever since the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative inward Agriculture, Research together with Marketing (KIA) was seat into house (almost the same fourth dimension the Nuclear treaty was signed), the ICAR does just what the USAID wants it to do. The outgoing Director General Dr Mangla Rai is but a figure head, an Indian human face upward for the American operations.

Let me portion with you lot some excerpts from the damming report. Sorry, fifty-fifty the excerpted portions of the study are pretty long.

IS THIS WHAT INDIANS SHOULD BE TRUSTING?
The even out of the Expert Committee that recommended Bt Brinjal for commercial tillage inward India

On Oct 14th 2009, the apex regulatory trunk for GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) inward Republic of Republic of India – the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) nether the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), gave a go-ahead for the commercial unloose of Bt Brinjal, the commencement e’er such Genetically Modified (GM) nutrient crop anywhere inward the basis with the toxin-producing Bt cistron inward it. The GEAC based its decision, with some dissenting voices recorded, on the recommendations of an Expert Committee (referred to futurity equally EC2, specifically referring to this practiced commission on Bt Brinjal, equally opposed to EC1, some other Expert Committee constituted inward 2006-07).

EXPERT COMMITTEE 2 ON BT BRINJAL

When independent reviews of Mahyco’s biosafety information started coming in, inward the calendar month of Jan 2009 (after the information was seat upward on the Indian regulators’ official website inward Oct 2008 after a protracted Right To Information fighting together with after the Supreme Court passed orders to this effect), the GEAC inward its coming together on 14th Jan 2009, decided to ready an Expert Committee (a Sub-Committee, equally it was called at that time). The determination inward this 91st coming together of the GEAC was recorded equally under:

“5.1.4 After detailed deliberations, the Committee decided to ready a Sub-committee comprising of representatives from the Ministry of Health together with Family Welfare, NIN, ICMR, CFTRI, CCMB, IIVR, NDRI, CFIE, MoEF, DBT, TNAU together with UAS Dharwad with the next damage of reference:

– to review the adequacy of the biosafety information on Bt brinjal

– to review the adequacy of the toxicity together with allergenicity protocols

– to propose farther studies, if any, based on the review of the international practices inward biosafety assessment together with representations received past times the GEAC

– based on such reviews brand suitable recommendations for consideration of the GEAC”.

On Feb tenth together with 11th 2009, many faxes were sent from civil monastic enjoin groups across the solid soil bespeak GEAC to review the mandate for the Sub-Committee together with to take conflicting interests inward the committee.

As per an Office Memorandum dated 29/5/2009, the GEAC constituted an Expert Committee consisting of xvi members, headed past times Prof Arjula R Reddy, Vice Chancellor of Yogi Vemana University, Hyderabad together with currently also the Co-Chair of GEAC.

Interestingly enough, the Terms of Reference for this Committee were:

– to review the findings of the information generated during the large scale trials ;
– to review the biosafety information of Bt brinjal inward lite of the available scientific evidence, reports from international/national experts together with representations from NGOs together with other stakeholders;
– to brand appropriate recommendations for consideration of the GEAC based on the inward a higher house review.

One could debate that this novel ToR itself is a divergence from the determination taken inward the Jan coming together of the GEAC, with regard to the rationale for the constitution of the committee. Further, it has to hold upward noted that the large scale trials’ findings along with findings from pollen flow, soil impacts together with crossability studies were seat inward the populace domain alone on Nov 16th 2009, a total calendar month after the Expert Committee came upward with its recommendation together with this did non locomote through whatever independent analysis or review.

On together with closed to the 30th of July, shortly after the portion memorandum was seat upward inward the populace domain, civil monastic enjoin groups in 1 lawsuit once again wrote to the GEAC pointing out to the demand to alter the mandate of the Expert Committee equally good equally the inclusion of conflicting interests inward the constitution of the Expert Committee (Annexure 1). In addition, on 2d September together with on 11th Oct 2009, inward electronic mail communications sent to the Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests, these issues induce got been raised with him too, to update him together with seek his intervention.

It has to hold upward noted hither that an before Expert Committee (EC1) ready inward 2006 also presented similar issues for the country, when a GM crop developer was asked to caput that Committee. It was alone inward the instant coming together of this EC1 that the GM crop developer was replaced past times some other scientist.

“EC 2 DESIGNED TO APPROVE BT BRINJAL”

The EC2 had xvi members including the following:

Prof. Arjula R. Reddy, Vice Chancellor, Yogi Vemana University, Hyderabad together with Co-chairman, GEAC (Chairperson of the EC2).
Dr Vasantha Muthuswamy, Former Chief (BMS), ICMR, New Delhi: Member
Dr. B. Sesikaran, Director, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad: Member
Dr. Lalitha R. Gowda, Scientist, CFTRI, Mysore: Member
Dr. N. Madhusudan Rao, Deputy Director, CCMB, Hyderabad: Member
Dr. C. M. Gupta, Former Director, Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow: Member
Dr S. B. Dongre, Director (F&VP), Food Safety together with Standards Authority (FSSA), New Delhi – (Representative of MoH&FW): Member
Dr. Dhir Singh, ADG (PFA), FSSAI – (Representative of MoH&FW): Member
Dr. K. Satyanarayan, Scientist G, ICMR, New Delhi: Member
Dr. Dharmeshwar Das, Director, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar: Member
Dr. A. K. Srivastava, Director, National Diary Research Institute, Karnal: Member
Dr. Dilip Kumar, Director, Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai: Member
Dr. Mathura Rai, Director, Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi: Member
Dr. P. Anand Kumar, Project Director, NRCPB, IARI, New Delhi: Member
Dr. K. K. Tripathi, Adviser, DBT, New Delhi: Member
Dr R Warrier, Director together with MS GEAC: Convener

A re-look at the EC2

Prof Arjula Reddy, the Chair of the Committee:
In a telephone conversation to Dr Pushpa Bhargava, Prof Reddy is supposed to induce got told Dr Bhargava, sometime inward the commencement calendar week of Oct (?):

– that 8 of the tests that Dr Bhargava said should hold upward done on Bt Brinjal together with with which Prof Reddy agreed, had non been done; 
– that fifty-fifty inward the instance of tests that induce got been done, many induce got non been done satisfactorily together with adequately; 
– that he (Prof Reddy) was nether ‘tremendous pressure’ to clear Bt Brinjal together with had calls from ‘Agriculture Minister, GEAC together with industry’.

Attached is a note/affidavit from Dr Bhargava on this affair (Annexure 2). Prof Reddy has also been quoted inward a Tehelka article on Bt Brinjal lately inward the next manner:

When asked if in that location was whatever proof Bt brinjal was safe, he replied, “What nosotros require is long-range research done over many years. That does non be (for Bt brinjal).” Then why give the clearance if the required research is absent? “All the approved protocols past times the authorities has been fulfilled past times the developers together with the populace institutions [that participated inward the security assessment].”

Source: Uber Gene, Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 44, Dated Nov 07, 2009 at http://www.tehelka.com/story_main43.asp?filename=Ne071109uber_gene.asp

However, these views are non reflected inward the terminal study of the EC2, indicating that Prof Reddy succumbed to pressure.

2. Dr K K Tripathi, Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation, Dept of Biotechnology.

A electrical load is pending against Dr K K Tripathi with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) (complaint dated 6/6/09 from Nuziveedu Seeds, together with Central Vigilance Commission Complaint No. 780/09/6, beingness examined inward the Commission – Annexure 3), for “abuse of power”. This complaint, filed past times Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, points out that Dr Tripathi has been exercising undue discretionary powers to promote interests of certainly companies of his choice (Mahyco specifically) together with damage others. The CVC electrical load lodged points out the following:

“The RCGM, MEC together with GEAC are independent committees meant to deed equally checks together with residue for each other together with foreclose whatever 1 private from influencing their decision. However, the presence of 1 individual (Dr. K K Tripathi) on all 3 committees together with inward the capacity of Member Secretary on 2 fundamental committees too his administrative powers equally Advisor DBT, has given him a direct a opportunity to manipulate the decisions inward these committees to farther his vested agenda past times misinforming together with misrepresenting facts inward these committees”.

Dr Tripathi was also portion of the EC2! It violates whatever regulation of fair research to induce got him inward this commission when investigations are pending against a electrical load for his excessive favouring of Mahyco when the EC2 was considering a Mahyco application for Bt Brinjal commercialization!

Further, Dr Tripathi was the 1 who signed off on diverse protocols together with permission letters for testing Bt Brinjal’s biosafety together with efficacy together with manifestly idea this was adequate together with appropriate, spell the Expert Committee was supposed to hold upward reviewing the concerns expressed on these real protocols together with studies!

3. Dr Mathura Rai, Director, Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR)

He/IIVR is portion of the ABSP II projection (more details inward Annexure 4). This projection is funded past times USAID, which inward plow gets funded past times Monsanto for certainly projects together with funds Monsanto for certainly other projects. ABSPII is “supporting Mahyco inward gaining regulatory blessing for the technology”… says a projection document on the official website (http://www.absp2.cornell.edu).

USAID funding of this projection goes expressly into activities like: “Support Mahyco’s efforts to consummate regulatory approval”!

Dr Mathura Rai also acted equally the Pb investigator, so to speak, on the large scale trials of Mahyco’s Bt Brinjal inward the past times 2 years. He direct supervised all the trials equally recommended past times the Expert Committee (EC1 led past times Dr Deepak Paintal/Dr C R Babu) together with generated findings.

He non alone did these studies fifty-fifty though he is portion of ABSPII but he also reviewed his ain findings past times beingness portion of the Expert Committee ready “to review findings from large scale trials together with other biosafety tests”! Incidentally, the EC2 itself is called the “Expert Committee to review the findings of Large Scale Trials together with other related biosafety studies on Bt Brinjal”…

4. Dr Ananda Kumar, Project Director, NRCPB, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Delhi

Dr Ananda Kumar is a Bt Brinjal developer himself. Given that his ain production is inward the pipeline of evolution together with commercialization, his inclusion inward the Expert Committee in 1 lawsuit once again violates principles of fair research together with brings inward conflicting interests.

Amongst the xvi members of the Committee, both the inward a higher house (Dr Mathura Rai together with Dr Ananda Kumar) are agriculture scientists together with both are involved inward Bt Brinjal evolution together with were made portion of this Expert Committee!

In the inward a higher house context, it may hold upward noted that the Expert Committee has denied that Republic of Republic of India is a Centre of Origin of Brinjal, fifty-fifty though the crop developer also accepts this fact along with other agencies similar National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources!

5. Dr Dilip Kumar, Director, Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Bombay

The Central Institute of Fisheries Education had taken upward a Mahyco-sponsored study on Bt Brinjal together with the Director was straightaway sitting inward the Expert Committee to review his Institute’s findings with other findings!

6. & 7. Dr Vasantha Muthuswamy together with Dr B Sesikeran, Director, National Institute of Nutrition.

These 2 members played a Pb work inward the recasting of regulatory guidelines for security assessment of GM foods inward India, with the funding of USAID nether the Southern Asia Biosafety Programme (SABP). Dr Muthuswamy is a GEAC fellow member spell Dr Sesikeran is an RCGM member.

On the grounds of harmonizing the Indian regulatory regime with Codex Alimentarius guidelines, this exercise non alone ignored all the many of import tests together with procedures beingness prescribed past times Dr Pushpa Bhargava, the Supreme Court observer inward the GEAC together with others, but threw out many tests that were hitherto beingness conducted inward India.

Incidentally, the ABSPII, (funded past times USAID) “works collaboratively with the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) together with the Southern Asia Biosafety Program (SABP)1” (funded past times USAID). The official website states the next inward this context:

ABSPII volition position together with back upward other USAID initiatives to promote security together with effective agricultural biotechnology inward Africa together with Asia. For example, successful commercialization of bio-engineered crops volition depend upon satisfactory biosafety regulation”.

USAID, meanwhile, states that 1 of its roles is to “integrate GM into local nutrient systems”.

Also interesting to banknote is a KIA Board Meeting (5th Board Meeting of Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, the bilateral bargain signed along with the Indo-US nuclear deal, to convey inward the so-called instant greenish revolution into the country) expressly refers to the fact that “guidelines are beingness drafted for the security of GM foods for the Government of India” nether a department titled “related activities undertaken past times other U.S.A. agencies”.

Dr Muthuswamy together with Dr Sesikeran were fundamental members of the drafting commission for the novel guidelines. It is of piddling surprise together with then that the EC2 study repeatedly resorts to comments similar “as per the lately adopted guidelines, such studies create non flat portion of security assessment” or that something is “not required” equally per the novel guidelines.

Thus, with USAID’s interference through the SABP project, unscientific security testing guidelines together with processes induce got locomote the criteria for the security assessment of Bt Brinjal together with GM crops rather than rigorous scientific risk assessment together with jeopardy identification. Further, a scientific evaluation of Bt Brinjal is non close conformity to guidelines (newly adopted or otherwise) fifty-fifty equally the EC2 study takes a recourse to this often.

8. & 9. Dr Dhir Singh together with Dr due south B Dongre, “representatives of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare”

These 2 members of the EC2, drawn from the Food Safety together with Standards Authority, were expressly designated inward the EC2 equally “representatives of the Ministry of Health &Family Welfare”. From conversations with the FSSA Chairperson together with 1 of these members, it is gleaned past times civil monastic enjoin members that these members carried a brief of beingness introduce inward the EC2 equally “observers” together with did non select portion inward the deliberations.

In effect, this implies that no health-related questions were beingness asked on behalf of the populace past times whatever Health Ministry representative inward the Expert Committee!

10. Dr C M Gupta, Former Director, Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow

Dr Gupta, who is also a GEAC member, did non attend both the meetings of EC2.

11. Dr Ranjini Warrier, Member-Secretary, GEAC &Convenor, EC2

It is to Dr Warrier that diverse communications were sent past times many civil monastic enjoin groups close the constitution together with mandate of the Expert Committee, correct from Feb 2009. It is obvious that no notice was paid to the objectionable processes beingness run together with that justified demands from citizens were non taken on board.

EXPERT COMMITTEE &SUBSEQUENT PROCESSES

The Expert Committee met twice, on July 30th together with August 31st 2009 reportedly for a few hours each, together with came upward with its 105-page report. In these 2 meetings, thousands of pages of biosafety dossiers of Bt Brinjal inward improver to independent reviews together with other feedback were apparently perused past times the Committee for finalizing its report!

The GEAC did non address the issues raised past times civil monastic enjoin groups close the constitution together with mandate of this Expert Committee.

This is just a portion of the study that I am sharing with you. For a consummate version, delight write to Kavitha Kuruganti at kavitha.kuruganti@gmail.com