South Asia Biosafety Conference begins at Hyderabad

The three-day South Asia Biosafety Conference (SABC) opened here yesterday with representatives from 13 nations sharing international experience among scientists and regulators in biotechnology, environmental risk assessment and biosafety regulation in South Asia.  
In her opening address, Dr. Amita Prasad, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and Chairperson, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), said India has a robust regulatory framework for ensuring biosafety of all types of genetically engineered organisms under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. 
She pointed out that these regulations are supported by a series of guidelines to deal with various aspects. Capacity-building and sharing of experience have to be continuous activities to ensure effective implementation of the biosafety regulations, she said.
Such activities also help in increasing awareness and creating an environment of understanding among various stakeholders. Appreciating the research efforts in biotechnology, she commended the research institutions for their R&D initiatives towards developing newer products relevant to the national needs.
In his keynote address, Dr. Anupam Verma, Vice-President, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), emphasized that the modern world is facing enormous challenges to achieve food security.
In the backdrop of increasing demand for food, dwindling natural resources and increasing biotic and abiotic stresses as a result of intensification of agriculture and climate change, the world has no option, but to accelerate utilization of the available and emerging technologies for improving world food production, he said.
He stressed that agriculture biotechnology is a powerful tool for addressing the emerging challenges, as already demonstrated by the fast adoption of such technologies in dealing with biotic and abiotic stresses. He advocated better coordination among various ministries including agriculture, health and environment.
More than 200 participants from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tajikistan, and the United States are participating in the conference. 
The inaugural session also witnessed the release of Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) guidance documents, recently adopted by the Indian regulatory authorities to strengthen the ERA process. 
This is the fourth edition of the conference, with the first three having been held in New Delhi, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.  SABC is organized on an annual basis in the South Asian region by ILSI Research Foundation, and Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL) under the South Asia Biosafety Programme.
The International Society of Biosafety Research (ISBR) has supported a poster session and a lighting round for young researchers with awards for best posters in biosafety. As many as 37 posters by participants from various countries have been put up for display.


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