Crop Biotech Update

India's Biotechnology Strategy Highlights Importance of GM Crops

March 12, 2014

India's Department of Biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology has come out with its draft national biotechnology development strategy, 2014, suggesting improvement in the existing regulatory system. The department in its 'Biotech Strategy-II' pitched for a world class regulatory system which can build confidence among the civil society, farmers, consumers and scientific community. The same suggestion had come in its first strategic document (Strategy-I) in 2007 when it asked for setting up a Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI), the bill is still pending with the parliamentary panel. The 2014 document has once again recommended it.

The department of biotechnology's revised strategy of 'Vision 2020' highlighted how GM crops would help achieve "higher productivity and better quality food while reducing resource inputs". Making the draft document public, the department of biotechnology sought "comments" from stakeholders including farmers, scientists and civil society by March 10. Biotech Strategy-II comes at a time when the government has moved towards field trials of selected varieties of GM crops.

The draft has suggested improvement in the existing regulatory system, seeking to make the GEAC "scientifically strong, professionally competent, conflict-free, transparent and backed by sound validation infrastructure". The department also recommended setting up a toxicological center to "generate toxicity, safety data for biological and chemical contaminants and adulterants along with GM foods and traditionally used herbs".

The vision document deals with matters relating to human health, marine biotech, aquaculture, food and nutritional security, industry biotechnology, bioinformatics, clean energy and environment. "Strategy-II is the direct result of formal and informal consultations over the past two years with over 300 stakeholders including scientists, educators, policy-makers, leaders of industry, NGOs and international experts," said the department .

For details visit http://dbtindia.nic.in/docs/Overview_NBDS_2014.pdf A copy of Biotech Strategy II is available at http://dbtindia.nic.in/docs/NBDS_2014.pdf