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India’s biotech regulator bill delayed furtherqrcode

Sep. 13, 2012

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Sep. 13, 2012
The bill to set up a biotech regulator has got further delayed when its introduction in Parliament was put off at the last minute following a technical hitch and opposition from several members.

The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill was scheduled to be introduced on the last day of the Monsoon session of Parliament on Friday.

However, literally at the last minute Science and Technology Minister Vayalar Ravi wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar requesting her to take it off the agenda.

Ravi said the members pointed out to him that there was no reference in the Parliamentary papers about referring the controversial Bill to a Select Committee as was agreed earlier this year.

Several MPs, including a few of the ruling Congress, had said they would oppose the controversial Bill at the introduction stage itself.

"When the Bill was to be introduced on Friday a few MPs, including some from the Congress, said they had some objections and wanted further discussion on it. Since I did not know the background, I agreed to their demand," Ravi told reporters here.

The bill, which has been opposed by green activists over some sections regulating transgenic crops, was first listed for introduction in Parliament in December last year, which was then put off following opposition from members.

It was then expected to be tabled during the Budget Session which had ended on May 22 but got stuck in procedural issues.

The then Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had come out with a solution to address members' concerns by agreeing to refer the Bill to a select committee. Ravi assumed charge of the Ministry after Deshmukh's demise on August 14.

Among those having strong reservations were Jyoti Mirdha (Cong), C P Thakur (BJP), Basudeb Acharia (CPM) and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD), who felt the regulator should be under the Ministry of Environment and Forests or Health and not under the Ministry of Science and Technology, whose role is to promote biotechnology.

The Health Ministry is learnt to be not too keen on becoming the governing ministry for the BRAI.

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