Almost all biotechnology laboratories carry out recombinant DNA (rDNA) experiments. These days the general public is wary of the possibility of scientists generating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by rDNA experiments. GMOs can range from innocuous E. coli carrying a harmless foreign gene to a transgenic plant or animal that is modified to produce useful biomolecules or to be resistant to pest attacks. rDNA safety guidelines were framed by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, in 1990. It was decided that in order to regulate the creation of GMOs, organizations conducting research on them should constitute an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC) to approve and periodically review the biosafety aspects of the research projects.
The IBSC of RGCB meets twice a year. The members of the IBSC make sure that the biosafety guidelines are adhered to in proposed projects and to categorize them based on the risk category. Proposals involving category II and III experiments are intimated to Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) at the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, once they are approved. The principal investigators are required to report the progress of the work every six months to the IBSC. Personnel handling infectious organisms or body fluids/secretions are required to undergo a medical check-up as prescribed by DBT before each meeting. The medical expert carefully evaluates the medical reports. Based on the risk involved in the work, the lab personnel are immunized accordingly. The committee also visits laboratories working on infectious agents & tissue culture and inspects the biosafety practices followed.
The current IBSC members of RGCB are:
- Director, RGCB (Chairman)
- Dr. P Ajitkumar (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. DBT
- Dr. Anoop Kumar Thekkuveettil (SCTIMST, Trivandrum - External
- Dr. M.G Purushothama (Indus Seeds, Bangalore - External
- Dr. Elizabeth K.E (Medical College Hospital, Trivandrum -
- Dr. R.V Omkumar (RGCB)
- Dr. Moinak Banerjee (RGCB)
- Dr. E.V Soniya (RGCB)
- Dr. K Santhosh Kumar (RGCB)
- Dr. R Ajay Kumar (RGCB Member Secretary)