Thirteen nations have come together to discuss international experience amongst scientists and regulators in biotechnology, environmental risk assessment and biosafety regulation in South Asia at South Asia Biosafety Conference (SABC) in Hyderabad. The three-day annual event will cover wide-ranging topics being covered in biotechnology R&D and biosafety.
In her opening address, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and Chairperson, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), Dr. Amita Prasad, said that India has a robust regulatory framework for ensuring biosafety of all types of genetically engineered organisms under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
She pointed out that these regulations are supported by a series of guidelines to deal with various aspects. Dr. Prasad emphasised that capacity-building and sharing of experience has to be a continuous activity to ensure effective implementation of the biosafety regulations. Such activities also help in increasing awareness and creating an environment of understanding among various stakeholders. Appreciating the research efforts in biotechnology, she commended the research institutions for their R&D initiatives towards developing new products relevant to the national needs.
In his address, Vice President, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), Dr. Anupam Verma, emphasised that the modern world is facing enormous challenges to achieve food security. In the backdrop of increasing demand for food, dwindling natural resources and increasing biotic and abiotic stresses as a result of intensification of agriculture and climate change, the world has no option, but to accelerate utilisation of the available and emerging technologies for improving world food production. He stressed that agriculture biotechnology is a powerful tool for addressing the emerging challenges, as already demonstrated by the fast adoption of such technologies in dealing with biotic and abiotic stresses. For this, he advocated better coordination among various ministries including agriculture, health and environment.
More than two hundred participants from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tajikistan, and USA are participating in the Conference. The event also witnessed the release of Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) guidance documents, recently adopted by the Indian regulatory authorities to strengthen the ERA process. This is the fourth Conference, with the first three Conferences being held in New Delhi, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. SABC is organised on an annual basis in the South Asian region by ILSI Research Foundation and Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL) under the South Asia Biosafety Programme.