Updated on 29 October 2012
Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson & managing director of the biotechnology giant Biocon, and scientists, including ProfG Padmanabhan, former director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Dr K K Narayanan, managing director of Meta-Helix Life Sciences, Bangalore; Dr T M Manjunath, an agricultural biotechnologist; Dr M Mahadevappa, former vice chancellor of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, and chairman of the Agricultural Service Recruitment Board, Government of India; reiterated that the committee overshot its mandate and made many sweeping recommendations on diverse issues without taking into account the scientific rigor of the methods used in India, which are similar to those in the most advanced countries. The scientists were speaking at a forum organized by the Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education (FBAE) in Bangalore.
"This is a sad day for scientific community as we are still looking back at license raj though we live in a system of approval raj. These recommendations will only harm the farmers and society," said Dr Mazumdar-Shaw
The scientists have requested the court to reject the committee's interim report and constitute a well-balanced committee, if necessary, to re-examine all the issues raised in the interim report, in consultation with scientists who have hands-on experience in agricultural biotechnology from both public and private sectors.
Prof C Kameswara Rao, executive secretary, FBAE, commented that the committee "claims to have consulted various scientists, experts and NGOs but the report submitted to the court seems to rely entirely on the views of a select group of scientists and activists who oppose agribiotech, ignoring all the others".
The committee's dismissal of biosafety data on Bt cotton and the recommendation to ban all field trials of all biotech crops for 10 years is harsh and has no valid scientific basis, said Dr T M Manjunath. "Bt has been extensively used as various spray formulations to control a variety of insect pests for over 50 years in many countries and in transgenic crops for over 16 years (10 years in India) and has not caused any adverse effects," he said, adding that "the recommendation would halt the ongoing research on crop biotechnology and would destroy the interest and enthusiasm of the students, scientists and the industry".