ANDHRA PRADESH

Governor sees vast potential for biotech industry

HYDERABAD, FEB. 26. The Governor, Surjit Singh Barnala, has underscored the immense potential for the use of biotechnology in various sectors, including agriculture and medicine, saying that modern world has laid its future hopes on it for sustaining all-round progress and development.

Inaugurating the three-day `Bio-Asia 2004,' he said the applications of biotechnology include, among others, the development of better and cheaper drugs, better anti-fertility agents, hormone production, immunological kits and vaccine for cancer. He said that India was emerging as a major player in Asian countries in the field of biotechnology and Hyderabad, in particular, was developing into a big cluster and the biotech hub of India.

Delivering the key-note address, the Director-General of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) R. A. Mashelkar, said the achievements of Indian biotechnology industry were underplayed and called for developing partnership between Indian and foreign firms to find ways for reducing the cost of drug discovery process.

He said that India was a happening country with economy registering an 8 per cent growth rate and the biotechnology industry has tremendous potential. More than 10 States had developed biotechnology policies and there was also a change in the attitude of academic institutions which never looked for creating wealth earlier. With Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) becoming a very critical issue, Indian companies were becoming patent savvy.

M.K. Bhan, Secretary-designate, Department of Biotechnology, said that biotechnology has the potential to address societal needs. "If we do not address societal concerns, progress will not be sustainable for biotechnology," he added. Biotechnology could create wealth generation which was a dire need of Asia. He said the Government policies should drive investment in R and D and entrepreneurial infrastructure development.

The eminent scientist, M.S. Swaminathan, suggested setting up of a rice-bio park and a national resource centre at the Genome Valley near here. He said the proposed centre should act as a hub and network with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and 11 other open universities, besides the Virtual university of ICRISAT. He said that there was also a need for launching a genetic literacy movement in rural areas.