Updated on 11 July 2013
The Bill continues to receive an overwhelming response from the industry bodies and experts alike
New Delhi: While, the environment activists in India welcomed the Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests' decision to extend the deadline for Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill public views and suggestions from July 10, 2013, to after 45 days, the industry continues to linger on the hopes of early passing of the Bill.
Despite stiff opposition, 11 parliament sessions, and two failed attempts in the last three years, the BRAI Bill, drafted to carry out risk assessment of all biotech products and supervise field trials of genetically modified crops in India, was tabled in the Lok Sabha on April 22, 2013. The Bill seeks to create an independent regulator called BRAI, besides a 17-member inter-ministerial governing board, to oversee the authority's performance and a Biotechnology Regulatory Appellate Tribunal, where BRAI decisions could be challenged. However, the commercialization of biotechnology products in agriculture and healthcare would be left to the central and the state governments.
The Bill was sent to the Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests for review due to widespread opposition to it both inside and outside the parliament. However, the Bill continues to receive an overwhelming response from the industry bodies and experts alike.
Hailing the decision, Dr Ram Kaundinya, chairman, Association of Biotech led Enterprises-Agricultural Group (ABLE-AG), says, "BRAI is a logical step forward and the government has mooted the setting up of a National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India to regulate the research, manufacture, importation and use of products of modern biotechnology through National Biotechnology Authority Bill."
Dr Kaundinya feels that the biggest advantage of BRAI is that it will bring single-window clearance on approvals. "We also hope this will bring about the much-needed alignment in central and state policies on biotech crop regulations. It will also enable a more formidable system of keeping science and politics separate," he adds.