The Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Agriculture which is headed by Basudeb Acharia has sought public opinion on Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013 that envisages for the setting up of an Integrated National Biosecurity System which will cover plant, animal, marine and farm microorganisms to fight threats of bioterrorism from pests and weeds.
It has also sought suggestions from experts, stakeholders, individuals and institutions on pricing of agricultural produce, particularly on the methodology of fixing the minimum support price, need to broad-base the crops covered, market intervention to protect farmers from distress sale and need for an integrated price structure.
What are the key proposals in Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013?
The Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013, introduced in Lok Sabha in March 2013, will repeal the Destructive Insects and Pests Act and the Livestock Importation Act of 1898. It proposes to set up an Agriculture Biosecurity Authority (ABA) for prevention, control, eradication and management of pests and diseases of plants and animals and unwanted organisms. The Bill is also meant to fulfill India’s international obligations to facilitate import and export of plants, plant products, animals, animal products, aquatic organisms and regulation of agriculturally important microorganisms. The ABA will regulate the export and import of plants, animals and related products, prevent entry of quarantine pests from outside India and take steps for post-entry quarantine measures.
What is need for Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013?
With increasing liberalization of international trade in agriculture there is an elevated risk of introduction of exotic pests and weeds in the country that can cause serious economic damage. It is also imperative to properly assess the risk Genetically Modified Organisms for their proper management. Climate change too has the potential to alter the habitat of known pests and even introduce new pests. The emergence and spread of trans-boundary diseases such as avian influenza, the Ug-99 wheat stem rust fungus pose new dangers to human, animal and plant safety. To combat these issues effectively, the Agriculture Biosecurity Bill, 2013 has been proposed which seeks to set up ABA to improve safety, efficiency, transparency and compliance of quarantine and pest management regulations and respond swiftly to contain biosecurity problems. It will also ensure the conduct of bio-secure international trade in agriculture.