INDIA: Biotechnology to dominate 21st century: Namo Narayan Meena

NEW DELHI: The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) will be able to work speedily and research activities to gain momentum with bio-technology all set to dominate the 21st century, Union Minister Of State For Environment And Forests, Shri Namo Narayan Meena said here on May 08.

The minister while speaking at the 10th meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests informed that the meeting that the stay on Genetic Engineering Approval Commttee has been vacated today during judicial hearing and assured along with treating this field as a priority area with investments, priority will be given to proper risk assessment and appropriate measures to mitigate its adverse impacts.

In bio-pharma and bio-seeds industries, the turnover has already crossed a billion mark and the growth rate is estimated as 40 percent before the presentation on living modified organisms- LMOs and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Namo Narayan added that 62 hybrids of cotton have been approved for commercial cultivation across 9 cotton growing states viz; Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu while referring to the approval of transgenic crop Bt cotton and 20 recombinant therapeutic products in India.

The overall production has gone up to 24.4 million bales in 2005-06 as compared to 15.8 million bales in 2001-02, while the productivity has increased from 308 kg per hectare to 450 kg per hectare during the same period as the area under cotton cultivation has increased from 72000 acres in 2002 to 93 lakh acres in 2006.

Also the pesticide usage has also come down by 2260 MT during 2005-06, though there has been overall acceptance of the Bt technology by cotton growing farmers, the issues and concerns raised are being examined by the regulatory agencies.

However, the Bt cotton is the first GM crop in the country, which is making us to pass through learning phase; whereas sale of illegal/ spurious seeds insect resistant management, compliance of conditions etc. are various issues which will be taken care of by the ministry.

The ministry is also implementing a World Bank GEF capacity building project on bio-safety which includes strengthening the national capacity for effective legislative frame-work, operational mechanism, establishing bio-safety data base and supporting a network for research in the area of risk assessment and monitoring.

The committee members appreciated the presentation on Bio-safety Regulation of Living Modified Organisms as well as Genetically Modified Organisms in India and further also sought the action taken on the projects and progress which were discussed during the last consultative committee meeting.

The Bio-technology has the potential for ensuring food security, decreased pressure on land use, increased crop yields and reduced use of water and agrochemicals in agriculture, Shri Meena added.

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Added: May 11, 2007 Source: Agencies
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