TERI-ITEC Course - Application of biotechnology and its regulation
Biotechnology will play an important role in increasing land productivity in a sustainable way. Green revolution of the mid-1960s has saved millions from starvation but in the recent past, the growth has slowed down. With the mounting population pressures, and millions who cannot secure two square of meals, there is an urgent need to supplement ongoing technological interventions with newer inventions. The technologies must be designed not only to meet the specific needs of the developing countries, but also to create an enabling environment for adoption of these technologies by the masses.
As an institute actively engaged in research and applications in modern biotechnology, TERI is deeply interested in promoting awareness and capacity building in the areas of traditional and modern biotechnologies and also discuss issues such as biosafety, food safety, and regulations. With this objective, we had conducted three courses titled ‘Applications of Biotechnology and its Regulation’.
The objective of the course is to sensitize researchers, regulators, and policy- makers to broaden issues in research and development in biotechnology, biosafety, bioethics, and their impact on society at large. It provides the participants an exposure to how such issues are being addressed internationally as well as in African sub-continent. Against the general understanding of biotechnology and environmental issues, the course would focus on comparing the regulatory framework existing in developed and developing countries in the context of agriculture, food, and environmental safety. The existing gaps in the current legislation will be discussed. The areas requiring further course of action, including creation of infrastructure and capacities, would be highlighted.
For conducting the proposed course work, TERI’s highly qualified professional experts in the fields of biotechnology, law, and regulation would provide in-house expertise. TERI has a unique advantage of having a qualified faculty and inviting experts who are directly working on biotech regulations and regulatory mechanisms existing in India such as GEAC, RCGM, and other bodies. Moreover, TERI has alliances with other experts in biotechnology regulations in organizations, both in public and private domains. TERI’s in-house expertise would be supplemented by a wide gamut of external resources.
The duration of the course was three weeks and was divided into the following three modules.
Module I: Basic understanding of biotechnology
The course begins with lectures to bring about basic understanding of the science of biotechnology; mass cloning of selected genotypes; application of biopesticides and biofertilizers, development of new varieties, and designing crops (genetic modifications) for particular traits along with historical perspective and development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Module II: Environmental and bioethical concerns of new technologies, legal framework for biosafety regulations, and guidelines for risk assessment and management
Environmental and bioethical issues, concerning modern biotechnology, will also be discussed. The broader impact on society and genuine concerns regarding ethical issues will be discussed with the help of scientific data. The efforts and further need to enhance public awareness and participation will be highlighted.
Many countries had initiated the formulation of legislation and laying guidelines for regulation of GMOs and related products much before the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the Biosafety Protocol (BSP). A clear understanding of this well-defined regulatory framework would be the main focus.
The legal framework for biosafety regulation and guidelines for risk assessment and risk management, with special reference to the developing countries, will be evaluated.
This module will deal with the regulatory mechanism for regulation of recombinant products in different countries.
The session would also cover the current scenario in the area of regulation of GM food and feed products. The critical gaps, keeping in view national and international regulations, will be discussed.
This will be further substantiated with a field visit to the institution and industry conducting research on various aspects of biotechnology.
Module III: International frameworks to regulate trans-boundary movements of living modified organisms
To have a better appreciation of the issues involved, a brief introduction to the international perspective in evolution of modern biotechnology research and applications will be given. Besides, there would be discussions regarding regulatory practices with special focus on landmark cases and impact studies. Scenarios in the developed world will be compared with the developing countries. The implications of Cartegena Biosafety Protocol, especially on trans-boundary movements of the living modified organisms (LMOs), and other international obligations will also be discussed.
Outcome of the course
TERI had organized the 3rd Training Programme on Applications of Biotechnology and its Regulation from 4–21 August 2009. In all, 23 participants from various ITEC countries participated in the programme. It would be clear from the enclosed agenda, that the programme covered various important topics from the basic understanding of biotechnology, environmental, and bioethical concerns of new technologies, the legal framework for biosafety regulations and guidelines for risk assessment and management, and international frameworks to regulate trans-boundary movements of LMOs. The participants visited TERI's Micropropagation Technology Park and other laboratories such the Centre for Mycorrhizal Research, Molecular Biology, and so on. Also, they visited IARI's National Phytotron facilities and the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources. The participants also visited TERI University, an institution of higher learning. The campus is planned to provide a setting that enhances learning, simultaneously showcasing the concept of modern green buildings.
A trip was organized to a premium Agricultural University, G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pant Nagar. Apart from visiting the fields and well equipped laboratories, participants also had an opportunity to interact with the research scientists and know about their on-going research and possibility of applying some of it for the benefit of their respective countries. A field trip was organized to Supi, Mukteshwar district, in the Himalayas. Participants witnessed practical solutions for sustainable agriculture and diversification options for farmers.