BRAI Logjam : Will the bill sail through the storm?
This is one such news that the industry has been eagerly waiting to hear since a long time now. The biotechnology regulatory authority to carry out the risk assessment of all biotech products and supervise field trials of genetically modified crops was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday, April 22, 2013. As expected, it received an overwhelming welcome response by the industry body and experts alike.
The bill seeks to create an independent regulator called Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (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 central and state governments.
Hailing the decision, Mr Ram Kaundinya, chairman, Association of Biotech Led Enterprises - Agricultural Group (ABLE-AG) mentioned, "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 states policies on biotech crop regulations. "It will also enable a more formidable system of keeping science and politics separate," he added further.
The reason that makes the industry smile is that finally the government has managed to put bill through first stage amid stiff opposition from Parliament members as also in the past, the previous science ministers were compelled to withdraw the bill at the last moment and that too after listing it in the Lok Sabha business.