Biotechnology Bill likely to be introduced soon
8th November, 2011
The New Biotechnology Bill, in the offing since 2008 in India, is likely to be introduced in the winter session of the Parliament. The Bill aims at consolidation of regulatory policies, rules and services under a single biotechnology regulatory authority. It will facilitate a more uniform and consistent approach to address the safety of biotechnology products and processes in a scientific and transparent manner, as per the draft. It provides, inter alia, restrictions on manufacture and use of genetically engineered organisms and the establishment of National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Fund.
A major change that the Bill seeks usher in, is the establishment of National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority to act as single window for granting clearance to genetically modified crops. This move has drawn much criticism from political and social circles. The States say it will undermine them in ‘agriculture’ – a State subject and also take the issue out of purview of the Seed Bill and the Environment (Protection) Act by exempting experiments in genetically modified crops.
Another objection raised is the conflict of interest. The regulator of genetically modified food - Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India cannot be under the Ministry of Science and Technology's Department of Biotechnology, which has the mandate of promoting GM crops.