MPs oppose biotech regulator-Vilasrao Deshmukh

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 09, 2011, 17:55
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New Delhi: The Bill to set up a biotech regulator appears to have run into further trouble with some lawmakers opposing the proposal to allow the Ministry of Science and Technology to govern the authority.

The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill was listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha in the Monsoon Session of Parliament but was withdrawn after members of the Congress, BJP and CPI(M) raised objections.

“The Bill was withdrawn after some members, including from the Congress, said they would oppose it at the introduction stage itself,” Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said here.

Among members having strong reservations were Jyoti Mirdha (Cong), C P Thakur (BJP), Basudeb Acharia (CPM) and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD), who felt the regulator should be under the Ministry of Environment and Forests or Health and not under the Ministry of Science and Technology, whose role is to promote biotechnology.

Thakur has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him not to go ahead with the BRAI Bill in its current form.

Deshmukh said the Health Ministry was not too keen on becoming the governing ministry for the BRAI. Mirdha said the Bill was not a good piece of biosafety legislation and stressed on the need to have wider consultations.

“If introduced, the Bill should be referred to a joint select committee, with representatives from Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and Health,” she told PTI.

At the initial stages of discussions some portions of the proposed Bill were considered to be in conflict with functions of the health and environment ministries and resolving them has put brakes on the Bill’s progress.

The BRAI proposal has had a controversial history with green groups opposing it on various grounds, particularly on the point that it wrests control from state governments over clearances to genetically modified crops.


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