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2-Plants: Indian groups cry foul over GEAC stand on Bt cotton

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Farm bodies cry foul over GEAC stand on Bt cotton
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashok B. Sharma
DATE:   26 Apr 2005

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Farm bodies cry foul over GEAC stand on Bt cotton

NEW DELHI, APRIL 26: Regulatory authority Genetic Engineering Approval
Committee (GEAC) has once again come under sharp criticism by voluntary
organisations for its "arbitrary nature and non-transparent procedures".

The Secunderabad-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) and the
Delhi-based Gene Campaign, which had recently deposed before the GEAC in
connection with the review of the performance of Bt cotton, have alleged
that the regulator is behaving in a partisan manner.

In a joint letter to GEAC chairman Suresh Chandra, CSA executive director
Dr GV Ramanjaneyulu and Gene Campaign director Dr Suman Sahai have
alleged that the evidences of Bt cotton failure which they provided were
not included in the minutes of the meetings. Rather the minutes of the
meetings contained responses of seed companies on some questions raised
by GEAC.

Both Dr Ramanjaneyulu and Dr Sahai alleged that the invitation to the
voluntary organisations by GEAC was a hoax and pretence to show that the
authority was engaged in consultations with the civil society. They said
that they were allowed to make five-minute presentations. The questions
they raised were not answered by any members of the GEAC.

The leaders of the voluntary organisations claimed that their studies on
failure of Bt cotton were prepared and assisted by a team of scientists.
Dr Ramanjaneyulu had presented the CSA study at 52nd meeting of GEAC on
March 4. The minutes of the meeting are posted on the websites without
the inputs provided by Dr Ramanjaneyulu.

Dr Sahai presented the Gene Campaign study at the 53rd meeting of GEAC on
April 13. On her repeated questions about the procedures for approval of
new varieties of Bt cotton, while the old varieties are still under
review, she was told by the GEAC chairman, "The government is not
answerable to NGOs."


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