Using The RTI Act

Gene Campaign has sought information from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) on specific issues related to GM crops like Risk and Cost benefit analyses of GM crops, various GM crops under trial, Bt Cotton approval, food and feed safety tests, regulatory competence etc, and has asked for permission to inspect all the files and file notings dealing with bio-safety testing of Bt Cotton leading to its approval for commercial release. The information was requested through six different applications in December 2005 in the manner prescribed by the Ministry and the requisite fee was paid. We asked the Ministry to intimate us date and time for inspection. Instead of replying within thrity days as the Act specifies, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) replied after more than one and a half months, and that too in a very inadequate way. Some of the queries were transferred to the Department of Biotechnology, a little information was provided for some, and the rest were denied citing vague grounds like no priovision for the same in the RTI Act.

We filed an appeal with the Appellate Authorrity in march 2006 against the reply of the Public Information Officer. In our appeal, we pointed out the relevant provisions of the Act. Unfortunately, the Appellate Aithority of the Ministry did not dispose of the first Appeal within the stipulated period of 30 days. We were compelled to file a second appeal with the Central Information Commission, which is les pendens.

As regards the information sought that was transferred to the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) by the PIO of the MoEF, we again did not receive any reply, so we filed an appeal with the Appellate Authority (AA), we were compelled to file a second appeal with the Central Information Commssion, which is also les pendens.

Gene Campaign is determined to continue with its efforts to make the government machinery involved in these critical issues accountable.

Information received on Bt Cotton:

  1. Bt Cotton evaluation report- Central zone 2004-05, Central Institute for Cotton Research Regional Station, Coimbatore

  2. Report of the Sub-Committee on Bt Cotton And Related  Issues (Recommendations for Streamlining the current Regulatory Framework for Transgenic Crops), submitted to Ministry Of Environment & Forests Govrnment Of India

  3. Evaluation Report- Transgenic Cotton Hybrids With Delta Endotoxin Gene CryIA(c), South Zone, submitted to Indian Council Of Agricultural Research

  4. Evaluation Report- Transgenic Cotton RCH Hybrids With Delta Endotoxin Gene CryIA(c), Central &South Zone for 2002-03& 2003-04 Kharif seasons, submitted to Indian Council Of Agricultural Research

  5. Evaluation Report of Bt Cotton Hybrids- Second year-2004, North Zone, submitted to Indian Council Of Agricultural Research

  6. Evaluation Report First year-2004 North Zone (16 Bt hybrids), submitted to Indian Council Of Agricultural Research

  7. Evaluation Report- Transgenic Cotton  Hybrids With Delta Endotoxin Gene CryIA(C), Central Zone, submitted to Indian Council Of Agricultural Research

  8. Evaluation Report- Transgenic Cotton Hybrids With Delta Endotoxin Gene CryIA(C), North Zone, submitted to Indian Council Of Agricultural Research

  9. Evaluation of Bt Cotton Hybrids- Final Report, submitted to Indian Council Of Agricultural Research, New Delhi

  10. Bt Cotton evaluation report- South Zone, 2004-05

Information received on Bt Brinjal:

  1. Bt brinjal development: List of studies conducted

  2. Summary Notification Information Format For The Release Of Genetically Modified Higher Plants ( Angiospermae and Gymnospermae)

  3. Protocol of study on Mucous Membrane Irritation test of transgenic eggplant- Brinjal- Institute for toxicological Studies

  4. Studies in Bt brinjal- Presentation to GEAC May 22, 2006 by MAhyco

The Ministry of Environment & Forests has been compelled to refund the amount of Rs 1526 that it had charged Gene Campaign for photocopying documents related to the query filed under RTI on biosafety tests for Bt cotton.

The information was not provided within 30 days of receiving the request for information. 30 days is the time stipulated under the RTI Act for providing information. Organistations using the RTI Act should be vigilant about clause 7(6) of the RTI Act which provides for the refund of money if information is not given in time