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POLICY & REGULATION: Indian environment ministry to reconstitute GM regulator this week



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   GREEN MINISTRY TO RECONSTITUTE GM REGULATOR THIS WEEK

SOURCE:  Hindustan Times, india

AUTHOR:  Chetan Chauhan

URL:     http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Green-ministry-to-reconstitute-GM-regulator-this-week/Article1-1021703.aspx

DATE:    05.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Caught between devil and deep sea, the environment ministry has reconstituted the bio-tech regulator - the Genetically Engineered Appraisal Committee - before start of the new season for field trails. The ministry had not constituted the GEAC for almost a year thinking that it would be replaced by the Biotech Regulatory Authority of India, an independent regulator to be set up by science and technology ministry. A parliamentary standing committee had submitted its report on BRAI in last August but the science and technology ministry has not got the final version of the bill approved by the Cabinet because of differences within the government. Technically, there is no regulator for GM products now."

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GREEN MINISTRY TO RECONSTITUTE GM REGULATOR THIS WEEK

Caught between devil and deep sea, the environment ministry has reconstituted the bio-tech regulator - the Genetically Engineered Appraisal Committee (GEAC) - before start of the new season for field trails. The ministry had not constituted the GEAC for almost a year thinking that it would be replaced by the Biotech Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI), an independent regulator to be set up by science and technology ministry.

A parliamentary standing committee had submitted its report on BRAI in last August but the science and technology ministry has not got the final version of the bill approved by the Cabinet because of differences within the government. Technically, there is no regulator for GM products now.

?We thought that the reworked BRAI bill would be introduced in the budget session of Parliament,? a senior ministry functionary said, explaining the reason for delay in constituting the committee that gives approvals for field trials of genetically modified crops.

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had raised tempo for re-constituting GEAC saying the delay was denying the scientists of their right to experiment on GM crops. ?We can?t afford to curtail the vigour of our scientific community and deny them the right to conduct field trial (trial of) GM crops... The process of research should not be stopped and it should not be jeopardised,? he had said at a function of Indian Council for Agricultural Research.

But, the environment ministry is not willing to take Pawar?s blame for slowing down of the GM trials. Instead, it has accused the states of stifling GM research. ?Around 50 approvals given by GEAC have not been agreed by the state governments,? the ministry functionary said.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   SHRI PAWAR CALLS FOR ADOPTING SCIENTIFIC SOLUTIONS TO RAISE FARM PRODUCTION AT A FAST PACE

SOURCE:  Press Information Bureau, India

AUTHOR:  Press Release, by Ministry for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, India

URL:     http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=91963

DATE:    01.02.2013

SUMMARY: "Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Minister, Shri Sharad Pawar, today called for adopting scientific solutions to raise farm production at a fast pace. Addressing a conference on ?Doubling Food Production in Five Years?, he said: ?Increase in agricultural production would have to come mainly from enhancement in farm productivity in the existing cultivated area. In this background, I am of the firm opinion that we must adopt the modern scientific solutions which are based on sound and proven practices. We also cannot afford to curtail the vigor of our scientific community if they are conducting research with all the precautions. We should not get carried away by the misplaced apprehensions against the scientifically proven developments. (Such as GM crops).?"

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SHRI PAWAR CALLS FOR ADOPTING SCIENTIFIC SOLUTIONS TO RAISE FARM PRODUCTION AT A FAST PACE

Agriculture Minister Addresses Conference on Doubling Food Production in Five Years 

Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Minister, Shri Sharad Pawar, today called for adopting scientific solutions to raise farm production at a fast pace.

Addressing a conference on ?Doubling Food Production in Five Years?, he said: ?Increase in agricultural production would have to come mainly from enhancement in farm productivity in the existing cultivated area. In this background, I am of the firm opinion that we must adopt the modern scientific solutions which are based on sound and proven practices. We also cannot afford to curtail the vigor of our scientific community if they are conducting research with all the precautions. We should not get carried away by the misplaced apprehensions against the scientifically proven developments. (Such as GM crops).?

The Minister stated that India will need to ensure sustainable agricultural growth against the backdrop of limited availability of natural resources especially cultivable land. On the challenges before Indian agriculture, he said, ?Our farmers have the enormous task of feeding a billion plus population. Increased focus on enhancing agricultural production has its own challenges, on account of progressive fragmentation of land holdings, depleting natural resource base and emerging concerns of climate change.?

The Minister highlighted the role of the private sector but drew the attention of the Conference to the need for sustainability and farmers? profitability. The Minister said:

?If ways and means are devised to cut on-farm and storage losses from pests and diseases, a significant step would have been taken in realizing the objective of the Conference. Both regulators and the private sector will have to move in tandem to facilitate introduction of safe, low dose, targeted agro-chemicals. Greater private sector investment will be desirable in production and promotion of bio-pesticides and bio-control agents. Equally important are greater public and private sector investments in on-farm and off-farm storage and cool chain infrastructure to reduce spoilage and deterioration in quality of produce.

?Private sector seed companies have made contributions by introducing frontier technology which has truly revolutionized yields in some crops. Further research needs to be carried forward for securing breakthroughs in yields in dry land farming conditions faced with Biotic and Abiotic stresses. Private sector also needs to come forward in innovative ways, like custom hiring facilities for farm machines. Government would be supportive of Public Private Partnership in Agriculture and the framework for facilitation has been put in place. Private sector companies have very large dealership networks in rural areas and training of dealers can be considered with a view to bolster extension machinery in dissemination of technology and information.

?? I would also like to strike a note of caution about means and methods that we choose to employ in our determination to move swiftly. This is absolutely critical to keep costs of cultivation down but also for long term sustainability of agriculture itself. Equally strong is our resolve to provide safe food to our population and therefore, safer agro-chemicals and judicious use should be promoted.

?In our enthusiasm to achieve too fast too soon, we should not ignore the impact on price realization and profitability for farmers in the absence of infrastructure and linkages with transportation, marketing and storage in our villages. Unless these facilities grow in tandem with production, the farmer will never be confident to plan, invest and put in labour for a significantly higher production.?