Bill to set up biotech regulatory authority soon

July 9th, 2008 - 11:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, July 9 (IANS) A bill to set up a National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority (NBRA) is likely to be introduced soon in parliament, eminent agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan said Wednesday. “The draft bill, prepared by the department of biotechnology, for setting up the NBRA is ready. I hope the bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament commencing next month,” Swaminathan told reporters on the sidelines of a public lecture at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) here.

A task force on application of agriculture biotechnology, constituted under the chairmanship of Swaminathan in 2004, has recommended to the science and technology ministry to set up NBRA to regulate research, manufacture, import and marketing of genetically modified organisms.

The NBRA is set to replace the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, which is under the environment and forests ministry.

“The government made a commitment two years ago to establish an autonomous statutory body (NBRA) in conformity with the agricultural biotechnology policy for the well being of farm families, food security of the nation, health security of the consumer and security of trade in farm commodities,” Swaminathat pointed out.

Though the ministry held widespread consultations on the draft bill with stakeholders over the months, a similar exercise with the legal fraternity on the regulatory mechanism is scheduled this month.

“As I believe that the process is as important as the end product (that is, Act), the next consultation is due with lawyers to evolve a consensus on the regulatory mechanism. Hopefully, this process will be completed by the end of this month to introduce the bill soon in parliament to enact the Act,” Swaminathan noted.

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