ISAAA Set To Launch Knowledge Centre In India (3/8/2004)


The targeting of India continues apace. Here's more on ISAAA: http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=66&page=I

ISAAA Set To Launch Knowledge Centre In India
Financial Express
New Delhi, Aug 1

The US based International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) is slated launch its 'knowledge center' in India in collaboration with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

The launch of this 'knowledge centre' will be on the occasion of the three-day international conference on 'Agricultural Biotechnology : Ushering in the Second Green Revolution' beginning on August 10. The international conference is being organised jointly by ISAAA, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Chennai-based MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and will be inaugurated by the Union minister of state for science and technology, Kapil Sibal.

The ISAAA, sponsored by mutlinational seed companies and some research institutions, has centres in North America, Africa and south-east Asia. The southeast Asian centre is located in the premises of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Manila in The Philippines, while the African centre is located in the CIP/ILRI complex in Nairobi in Kenya. The North American centre is located in Cornell University, Ithaca in New York.

ISAAA in its mission statement claims "to contribute to poverty alleviation" and has in its objectives "the transfer of and delivery of appropriate biotechnology applications to developing countries and the building of partnerships between institutions in the South and the private sector in the North, and by strengthening South-South collaboration."

The Indian industries engaged in developing transgenic crops and products have been upbeat with the government planning to amend the existing laws to make them more industry-friendly. The government had set up two separate committees to recommend the applications of transgenic technology in agriculture and recombinant pharma sector and also to recommend changes in the existing laws. While the panel on biotechnology applications in agriculture headed by Dr MS Swaminathan has already submitted its report, that on pharma sector headed by Dr RA Mashelkar is yet to submit its recommendations. The government is also planning to set up another panel for the use of transgenic applications in the food and food processing sector.

The three-day international seminar is slated to discuss a wide range of issues relating to agriculture biotechnology. Dr Krishna Ella, chairman of the FICCI biotechnology committee said "the international conference would aim at sharing global experiences on the status and acceptability of GM crops and public-private partnership in promotion of agricultural biotechnology. It would also address and examine at length the need for legal, statutory and structural policy changes. Evolving strategies for effective utilisation of biological resources for improvement of food as well as non-food products and necessary guidelines and material transfer agreements for facilitating access to bioresources and benefit sharing with the local community who own these resources will be discussed."

Dr Ella said that discussions will also be on standardisation of protocols for GM crops and foods, evolving of a simple mechanism for transfer of lead researches in agricultural biotechnology done in government-funded R&D institutions to the industry and creating awareness about the benefits of intellectual property protections on innovative and high yielding crop varieties.

The central overall theme of the conference is to recommend a blue print of a biotechnology policy relevant to India and suitable changes in the regulatory regime for enabling the growth of the biotech sector. The recommendations of the MS Swaminathan panel will be discussed in this context. It may also be noted that FICCI does not fully agree to all the recommendations of the Swaminathan panel. It has suggested its own proposals of the structure of the proposed independent regulatory authority to the RA Mashalkar committee on recombinant pharma sector. The industry is also not pleased with a recent study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) expressing concerns over the safety of GM foods.

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