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Millennium Biotech Policy of Karnataka State

We congratulate the Government of Karnataka on formulating an impressive and comprehensive policy document on biotechnology.
On a close examination of the State’s policy document, the Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education represents to the State Government, to consider the inclusion of the following, in the State’s Biotech Policy.

Agricultural Biotechnology:
a)      Establish a high-powered single window statutory body, such as a Risk Analysis and Bio-safety Committee (RABC) consisting of scientific experts, product generators and marketers, to process, within a set time frame, applications for field testing and/or growing genetically modified (GM) crops.   The RABC should hold hearings to invite informed public opinion and also function as a regulatory body to identify specific GM crops for field testing and/or growing and to declassify such crops when the situation warrants.
b)     Institute a mechanism for providing legal protection to individuals and organisations that wish to conduct field tests and/or raise approved GM crops, declaring violence against individuals and vandalisation of property, as criminal acts attracting the penal provisions of the state.
c)      Institute a mechanism to encourage and financially support individual  initiative in crop improvement through biotechnology and in developing and marketing promising products through venture capital.    and
d)     Provide for the inclusion of at least one agricultural biotechnologist, one person from the agro-biotech industry and one from biotech commerce, in the state’s Vision Group on Biotechnology. 

 Biotechnology education and training: 

In order to ensure that we have adequate numbers of trained personnel for our future needs in the area of biotechnology, we should ensure quality in education and training.   In view of the alarmingly low standards in the institutions offering biotechnology education in the State, and the lack of adequate and easily accessible facilities for research in biotechnology, the following remedial measures are urgently required: 

a)      Institute a statutory regulatory body, independent of the Universities and the Government Departments, to stipulate and ensure minimum standards and requirements of curricula, infrastructure and regular faculty needed for conducting B.Sc., and M.Sc., courses in biotechnology.   Such a high powered body, consisting of academicians and biotechnologists, constituted on the lines of the Medical, Dental, Pharmacy, and Bar Councils of India, and the AICTE, will recommend for recognition, continuation of recognition or de-recognition, of educational institutions, periodically.  and 

b)     Establish a Centre for Biotechnology Training and Instrumentation Service, to provide for paid training facilities to students of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.   The Centre should also help research workers in biotechnology to avail instrumentation facilities and other services on payment of reasonable charges.    Such a provision will prevent an unnecessary duplication of expensive laboratory facilities.
C Kameswara Rao
Executive Secretary, FBAE