32) ICRISAT Inaugurates Containment Glasshouse for Transgenic Plants (April 2000)

"It is only with new science that ICRISAT can address the urgent need for more food for the poor of the world" said Dr Ragnhild Sohlberg, Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board. She was inaugurating the new Transgenic Plants Containment Glasshouse at the ICRISAT-Patancheru Campus today. Also present were Dr R S Paroda, Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and Dr William D Dar, Director General, ICRISAT.

Introducing the facility, Dr D V R Reddy, Principal Scientist (Virology) said that this US $ 40,000 containment facility for transgenic plants conforms to P2 levels of biosafety standards (these international standards, P1 through P4 of increasing stringency, are based on guidelines developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, USA). Features of this 1200-square-foot containment facility include: insect-proof conditions; pollen filters; decontamination chambers for personnel and equipment; negative pressure to prevent air-borne dispersal; and an effluent treatment plant to prevent soil and water-borne dispersal.

ICRISAT's Biosafety Committee includes two high-ranking officers from the Government of India. Only after the Department of Biotechnology has inspected and approved the facility will it be occupied, Dr Reddy said.

Dr Sohlberg said that she was happy to note the precautions that ICRISAT is taking with regard to transgenic plants. All transactions such as the import, development and use of GMOs are cleared officially through the Government of India. Any field testing of these transgenic plants would only be attempted if permission is granted by the Government of India.

An already existing glasshouse was converted into this containment facility, only the fourth of its kind in India. The entire operation took 5 months and was done entirely in-house.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.