Symposium held on emerging trends in plant biotechnology
The genetically modified (GM) crops were an important technological advancement which the country cannot overlook for long in view of its priorities and policies such as national food security, said Akhilesh Kumar Tyagi, Director, National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), an autonomous body aided by Department of Biotechnology under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology.
“This is an important technology to benefit the people and we should have a clear policy on this so that it is not restricted. At the same time, all quality controls should be in place as is done in the case of any new technology,” he told The Hindu on the sidelines of a two-day symposium on Emerging Trends in Plant Biotechnology, inaugurated here on Friday.
Earlier delivering a lecture, he said there were a lot of similarities in the genes present in rice, bacteria and humans. “If you believe in evolution of organism, then all genes have evolved from some common point and, therefore, the kind of boundaries between vegetarian protein and non-vegetarian protein get blurred.”
On duplication and triplication of genes in plants, he said triplication of genes in tomato occurred at a time when dinosaurs disappeared from the earth. “In that period, there had been great changes in the environment and to adapt to those changes the plants got a duplicated genome. Then they diversified and this helped adoption and evolution of the plant types that we have today,” he said.
“If there is more than one gene, the pressure on the genes gets reduced and it paves way for them to diversify and occupy a different niche in order to provide something useful for the human beings,” he said.
Ram Rajasekharan, Director, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, and Utpal Nath from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, also spoke.
Karuppanan Veluthambi, a professor who retired recently from the School of Biological Sciences at Madurai Kamaraj University, received a standing ovation at the symposium in recognition of his 25 years of illustrious career in scientific research and teaching. K.Dharmalingam, former chairman, School of Biotechnology, presided over the function.