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RISK ASSESSMENT: Bt cotton‘s toxicity data to be made public




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  BT COTTON‘S TOXICITY DATA TO BE MADE PUBLIC

SOURCE: The Financial Express, India

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.financialexpress.com/news/Bt-cottons-toxicity-data-to-be-made-public/208022/

DATE:   01.08.2007

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BT COTTON‘S TOXICITY DATA TO BE MADE PUBLIC

New Delhi, Aug 1 The government has agreed to place the toxicity and allergenicity data relating to Bt cotton in public domain. Additional solicitor general Amarender Saran said, during the hearing on a petition calling for a moratorium on GM crops in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, that the government was willing to share the data related to toxicity and allergenicity of Bt Cotton and would also hand over a soft copy of it to all the petitioners. The data would be placed on the website hosted by the GEAC.

The bench consisting of chief justice K G Balakrishnan , Justice CK Raqvindran and Justice Dalbir Bhandari acting on a fresh application filed by Aruna Rodrigues issued notices to the government for making public the protocol for detecting 0.01% genetic contamination in the field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Rodrigues’ counsel Prashant Bhushan said: ”We had filed an application before the apex court not to allow field trials of GM crops until biosafety committees are set up in states concerned. We have also asked that CD Mayee be removed as the co-chairperson of GEAC as he is on the board of a global biotech promoter agency - ISAAA. Mayee’s holding dual posts amounts to conflict of interest. The court has accepted our application and has sent notices to the government.”

The application had also sought that the government should be directed to provide a comprehensive list of the 24 varieties and hybrids that were approved between May 1 and September 22, last year under nine-listed crops, namely Bt Cotton, transgenic okra, tomato cauliflower, brinjal, rice, castor, groundnut and potato.

According to Rodrigues’ application states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh were yet to constitute State Biotechnology Coordination Committees (SBCCs) necessary for monitoring and inspecting ongoing field trials under rules framed in 1989 under Environment Protection Act.

According to Bhushan, the documents acquired through RTI applications showed that these states did not have such committees or even know about field trials of GM crops. They were not even sure if they had committees in place. Other RTI documents collected showed that Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh were ignorant about the trials happening in their respective states, although GEAC was supposed to apprise the state governments of the approvals.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  CENTRE TO REVEAL ILL-EFFECTS OF BT COTTON TO PUBLIC

SOURCE: Indian Express Newspapers, India

AUTHOR: Ashok B. Sharma

URL:    http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=248767

DATE:   02.08.2007

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CENTRE TO REVEAL ILL-EFFECTS OF BT COTTON TO PUBLIC

Allerginicity: The Supreme Court bench issued notices for making public the protocol for detecting contamination in field trials of GM crops

New Delhi, August 1 The Centre has agreed to place the toxicity and allergenicity data relating to Bt cotton in the public domain. Additional solicitor-general Amarender Saran told the Supreme Court in the course of hearings on a petition filed by Aruna Rodrigues and others calling for a moratorium on GM crops on Wednesday that the government was willing to share bulky data related to toxicity and allergenicity of Bt cotton and that he would also hand over a soft copy to all the petitioners. The data would be placed on the website hosted by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).

The bench consisting of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, justice CK Ravindran and justice Dalbir Bhandari acting on a fresh application filed by Aruna Rodrigues issued notices to the government for making public the protocol for detecting 0.01% genetic contamination in the field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Rodrigues’ counsel Prashant Bhushan said, ”We had filed an application before the apex court not to allow field trials of GM crops until biosafety committees are set up in states concerned. We have also asked for the removal of CD Mayee as the co-chairperson of GEAC as he is on the board of a global biotech promoter agency - ISAAA. Mayee’s holding such dual posts amounts to conflicts of interests. The court has accepted our application and has sent notices to the government.”

The petitioner’s application had also sought a direction to the government to provide a comprehensive list of the 24 varieties and hybrids that were approved between May 1-September 22, last year under nine listed crops, namely Bt Cotton, transgenic okra, tomato cauliflower, brinjal, rice, castor, groundnut and potato.



                                  PART 3

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

TITLE:  CATTLE DEATHS NOT DUE TO BT COTTON, CLAIMS MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT

SOURCE: newKerala.com, India

AUTHOR: United News of India

URL:    http://www.newkerala.com/july.php?action=fullnews&id=54260

DATE:   16.08.2007

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CATTLE DEATHS NOT DUE TO BT COTTON, CLAIMS MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT

New Delhi, Aug 16 : The Government today denied reports that cattle were dying after grazing on Bt cotton fields. ”The Ministry of Environment and Forest had so far not received any scientific report attributing sheep mortality to grazing on Bt cotton fields per se,” Minister of State for Environment and Forests Namo Narain Meena told the Rajya Sabha today. He said it was informed by the Andhra Pradesh Government that Bt cotton samples analysed by four laboratories indicated the presence of high content of Nitrates, Nitrites, residues hydro-cyanide(HCN) and organophosphates which may be common constituents of soil or fertiliser or pesticides used in cotton cultivation. The question was put up by a Member from Andhra Pradesh Syed Azeez Pasha. A large number of cattle had died in the past few months after grazing on Bt cotton crop in various parts of Warangal district of the state. The affected districts were Warangal, Khammam and Adilabad. Following these deaths, the Animal Husbandary department of the state had issued a circular to veterinary hospitals asking them to send relevant material for analysis. The area under Bt cotton had increased substantially in the districts this year, with large tracts under the crop were available for use as fodder after harvesting ended in December-January.



                                  PART 4

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

TITLE:  SC EXPRESSES RESERVATIONS TO TECHNICAL SUBJECTS

SOURCE: Hindustan Times, India

AUTHOR: Bhadra Sinha

URL:    http://www.hindustantimes.com/storypage/storypage.aspx?id=ffaaaf41-64fd-4444-8c87-098ce2867dd4&&Headline=SC+expresses+reservations+to+technical+subjects

DATE:   01.08.2007

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SC EXPRESSES RESERVATIONS TO TECHNICAL SUBJECTS

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its reservations to adjudicate technical and scientific subjects like Bt Cotton (GM) crops stating judges were not experts in the field. Justice RV Raveendran spoke for the bench and beseeched the petitioner not to bring such matters before the court for adjudication.

The apex court is hearing a petition claiming that several states in India do not have the required mechanism to monitor trials of GM crops. The petitioner, Aruna Rodriques, also claims that the states were flouting rules framed in 1989 under the Environment Protection Act.

However, the judges said it was not possible for them to decide what mechanism was correct. "We are not experts," said the bench. When it was suggested to them to refer the matter to a committee of experts, the bench replied: "We do not know any experts. If we appoint someone, the government will object to our choice and if they do the same you shall doubt the expertise of the member."

Meanwhile, the government agreed to make public data related to toxicity and allergenicity of Bt Cotton (GM) crops. Additional Solicitor General Amarender Saran told the apex court that the government was willing to share the bulky data related to toxicity and allergenicity of Bt Cotton and he would also hand over a soft copy of it to all the petitioners.

Rodrigues' application stated that states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh are yet to constitute State Biotechnology Coordination Committees (SBCCs) which were necessary for monitoring and inspecting ongoing field trials.

According to the rules, the committees have the powers to inspect, investigate and take punitive action in case of violations of statutory provisions and can periodically review the safety and control measures in the various industries and institutions handling genetically engineered organisms.


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