Indian laws adequate for ensuring biosafety, says MoEF special secretary

But they do not provide for liability and redress if damage occurs due t release of GMOs by biotech giants, point out civil society groups

By M Suchitra
Published: Saturday 06 October 2012

India is not considering formulating a new legislation for dealing with biosafety issues. This was stated by M F Farooqui, special secretary to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). He was talking to media persons at Hyderabad on the concluding day of the meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CoP-MoP 6).

We feel the existing laws are adequate to deal with biosafety issues. We are not thinking of any new legislation," he said.

Non-profit organisations and civil society groups, however, had repeatedly pointed out during the side events and their press meets that the country lacks a comprehensive legislation to deal with liability and redress for damage caused by the genetically-engineered organisms released by multinational companies. 

The current regulatory regime on GMOs in India is governed by the Rules for manufacture, use/import/export and storage of hazardous microorganisms/genetically engineered organisms or Cells, 1989, issued under the Environmental (Protection) Act of 1986. There is a new law—the Biotechnology Authority of India (BRAI)—under consideration of the Central government.

But neither of the laws provide for civil liability and redress if damage occurs due to the release of genetically engineered organisms and products.

But according to Farooqui, these pieces of legislation are adequate for addressing biosafety issues in India. For the time being, there will not be any policy change regarding this, he said.


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