As per Dr Durga Rao, Chairman, Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, IISc, India has a very big potential in the field of biotechnology and it is all set to emerge as the vaccine hub of the world. The vaccine hub title has been possible due to the outsourcing of bio tech applications to the country. India has a lot to gain in this sector due to low cost of production and huge manpower. He further said that students could have a very bright future in the field of biotechnology and India could certainly benefit from the outsourcing trend in this field.
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The field trials of DMH -11, a genetically modified variety of mustard crop to be conducted by a research team of Delhi University has been approved by the Supreme Court of India and the team has been directed by the court to take precautionary measures and ensure that the gene does not move out of the trial fields. It is a welcome move for the research team as earlier the court had banned the government from approving field trials of GM crops in the country. Should we call this an effect of the pressure from multinationals or a country wanting to excel in the field of biotechnology?
As against the opinion of activists, the Indian government feels that GM seeds did not pose any harm to the environment and farmers would definitely benefit from it. The government wants that the ban put by apex court on conducting field trials must be removed. It feels that the ban would affect the developments in this field. The government stated: Introduction of biotechnology in India after rigorous testing was beneficial for the farmers and the general public. Any action which hinders such introduction of new technology cannot be termed to be in public interest On the other hand the activists feel that these trials would not only harm the farmers but also have a damaging effect on the environment in the long run. Let’s see who wins the battle- the government or the activists.
Although most of the world is shunning GM crops but India is convinced by the power of these crops and in order to achieve the benefits government of India has announced a special subsidy package. For this purpose the National Horticulture Board has made an announcement with regards to backed-ended capital investment subsidy for projects dealing with development of genetic modified organisms and bio technology. Similar subsidies have also been proposed for high density plantation. With regard to EOUs priority areas have been defined and though no approval has been granted for GM horticulture crops for commercial cultivation but still a number of them are in the process for approval. Though the government looks convinced but exporters have expressed their apprehension regarding introduction of GM crops and feel that it could have an adverse impact on the exports from the country. Probably the government should apply a wait and watch approach before it goes full steam so that the interests of the country do not suffer.
Indians should really smile when they read this. India has left China behind by miles in the arena of biotechnology. With India developing as a leading biotech region in the Asian region it is expected to leave behind China for the first time with regards to the area planted with biotechnology crop. The area under cultivation with biotechnology crop in 2006 in India has tripled as compared to last year and now the area under cultivation in India stands at 3.8 million when compared to 3.5 million in China. Quality seeds coupled with good biotechnology have made India stand strong. India is adopting biotechnology in a huge manner for meeting their growing need for fuel, fiber and food. 2007 will witness India investing $80 million in national chain of research laboratories. As per RNCOS report: Indian Biotechnology Market Outlook (2006)’, biotech will greatly influence the Indian agriculture sector by developing a large number of GM seeds. Amplifying at the rate of 28.09% from 2005, the Indian biotech industry is believed to reach the level of US$ 5 Billion by 2010 end. Is China sitting with closed eyes and why has India been able to defeat it in the arena of biotechnology, this is a question which only China can answer well. Via newswiretoday
Even the Right to information act or RTI could not help Greenpeace in India. RTI activists tried using this right for getting information on the safety tests of GM crops but their request was rejected on the plea that disclosure of the information could harm the competitive position of the company developing these crops. Information was sought on the field trial locations and allergenicity and toxicity data related to the rice, brinjal and other crops being tested. Though information on location was revealed but access to other set of information was denied. Greenpeace and other farmer organizations are not satisfied with the manner in which the trials are being conducted and they fear that gross violations have been conducted while conducting the tests. On the other hand GEAC states that field trials were being conducted keeping in view all the biosafety and regulatory norms in mind but it seems that there is something fishy since the government is hiding certain results on pretext of safety. The government should come up with a clear picture or it might become difficult to make the people accept GM crops. Via hindu
It has been reported that Andhra government is looking for a ban to be imposed on Bt cottonseeds since cattle deaths were reported after they grazed on the leftover Bt cotton fields. As a result a fact finding team has been sent by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committed to the affected areas in order investigate it. Areas of Khammam, Adilabad and Warangal have been affected by it. A warning has been already sent to the local people asking them to keep away their herd from these grazing grounds. Even the commissioner of agriculture is being asked not to sell BT cottonseeds in the coming season. Bt cotton had been approved for commercial cultivation after bio safety studies had been undertaken but it seems the studies were not conducted properly and as a result cattle has been dying after consuming Bt cotton leaves. This incident will surely leave a bitter taste for the farmers and it may happen that Bt cotton may never find a place in the Indian fields. Via bharattextile
Who said India lags behind in the arena of stem cell research? The country is growing at the rate of fifteen percent per year in the stem cell market arena and will reach the figures of $ 540 million by 2010. India has around fifteen centers which are undertaking research in the arena of stem cell. Of them five centers are involved in undertaking extensive trials in the arena of cardiology. India has all the strength to emerge as a global hub for undertaking stem cell research. Since U.S has banned stem cell research India can surely prosper in this field as it has both knowledge and technology for undertaking research in this area. With medical field making rapid moves researchers are opting for advanced techniques which can help in targeting the root cause of the diseases rather than just treatment of the symptoms and in this respect stem cell research is gaining a stronger position. One questions which is troubling my mind is if India emerges as a hub for stem cell research how will it handle the sensitive topics such as cloning and breeding of human cells. Via prminds