Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Aug 11, 2004
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Bio-tech & Genetics
Government - Agricultural Policy
Govt to set up single window body for GM crops
The Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mr Kapil Sibal, being greeted by Mr Y. K. Modi, President, FICCI as Dr Clive James, Chairman, ISAAA, watches at the International Conference on "Agricultural biotechnology ushering in the second green revolution" in the Capital on Tuesday. Ramesh Sharma
New Delhi , Aug. 10
THE Centre will put in place a single window regulatory body by January next to consider permission for cultivation of genetically-modified crops in the country, according to the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mr Kapil Sibal.
"We are evolving a simpler regulatory system to rapidly speed up the approval or rejection of technologies in order to bring in additional choices for farmers as soon as possible," he said, addressing a conference on agricultural biotechnology.
He also said the Government would devise necessary intellectual property rights (IPR) protection system for biotechnological inventions. "Until a sound IPR protection system is put in place, the developer of technology will be reluctant to transfer the technology."
He also signalled the Government's intention of promoting biotechnology applications in agriculture, including genetically- modified (GM) crops.
"In the backdrop of the country's growing food grain requirement and diminishing arable area we have no choice but to go on a path of biotechnology and gene revolution," he said.
Speaking at the conference, organised by FICCI, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri Biotech Applications (ISAAA) and M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Union Agriculture Secretary, Mrs Radha Singh, said the Government would contribute to initiatives "to hasten the process of biotechnology applications in agriculture."
Ms Singh pointed out that while considerable advances had been made in biotechnology uses in medical research, production of vaccines and pharmaceuticals for human and animal healthcare, its applications in agriculture continued to be cautious.
"An overall assessment up to present times clearly indicates that the benefits from the use of GM plants are substantial and that the gains outweigh risks, which in many instances are hypothetical and not quite real. The goodness and strength of biotechnology makes us believe that it would be difficult to stall or suppress the extensive use of this technology," she said.
She also called for full-scale development work on promoting GM technology beginning "as quickly as possible on all fronts scientific and societal."
Ms Singh noted that while commercial cultivation of Bt cotton was permitted since 2002, the area covered under it had expanded from 62,000 acres in 2002 to about 10 lakh acres this year. "The last two years experience indicates significant agronomic benefits leading to better returns. The experience of using Bt cotton has also enabled the regulatory agencies to gain greater experience of evaluation and regulation of GM crops and we are now planning to rationalise the regulatory mechanism and streamline protocols in keeping with international practices," she added.
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