Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India: Bill

 

The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill-2011, which seeks to establish a statutory independent regulator for biotech sector covering research, transport, import, manufacture and use of organisms and products of modern biotechnology, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 22nd April 2013.

As per the provisions of bill, the proposed regulator would be a nodal agency of the government to ensure comprehensive safety assessment of organisms and products of modern biotechnology. The commercialization of biotechnology products in agriculture and healthcare would be subject to all other laws for the time being in force. According to the bill, it would regulate trials preceding the clinical trials in the health sector and the present mechanism for regulating clinical trials would continue.

But against the introduction of this bill an Environmental NGO, GREENPEACE, alleged that, “if the Bill is in, safe food is at risk. Withdraw the bill!”

According to the Greenpeace the bill is structure in a flawed and biased manner which will finally keeps our natural food at risk.

 Whats Wrong with this bill?

The bill seems flavorless in terms of its capacity as a regulator because primarily it seems more like a promoter than a regulator. Though in its introduction it explicitly says that it is for promoting safe use of Modern Biotechnology and to set up a regulatory body for that.

BRAI is a centralized technocrat run body with no scope for democratic intervention. The bill proposes to set up a 5 member Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India, of which 2 are part-time members, under the Ministry of Science and technology which will take all decisions on the research, transport, import, manufacture and use of organisms and products created through modern biotechnology.

The bill is considered as unconstitutional as the State governments have been kept out of any decision making role even though agriculture and health are state subjects under the Indian constitution.The section 28 subsection(1) of the BRAI bill super cedes the requirement of the Right to information act and the decision to disclose information for public interest rests with the authority instead of the CIC or the Delhi High court as required by the RTI act 2005. Which means once the bill is in place the Citizens cannot know anything about the GM crops.

 

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