Kalam moots national biotech policy

Monday, 24 March 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Saturday mooted a national policy for biotechnology (BT) to tackle endemic diseases and increase agricultural production.

NEW DELHI: "India should strive to be a knowledge society driven by innovation. The key components of this should be IT, BT and space technology," said Kalam in his inaugural address to the three-day conference "Knowledge Millennium III: The Business of Biotechnology" here.

With BT's potential in the agriculture, health and pharmaceutical sectors, it was "important to evolve a national policy with the objective to have a national mission to tackle endemic diseases and use technology to generate wealth," Kalam maintained.

The conference has been organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce And Industry of India (Assocham).

Kalam conferred the Assocham Knowledge Innovation Award on J. Craig Venter, author of the human genome. Inder M. Verma, professor of genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies at the University of California, and R. A. Mashelkar, director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) received the Millennium Awards.

Kalam also urged the integration of traditional Indian knowledge with modern technology in BT.

"Integration of traditional and modern knowledge will reduce the time taken for the molecule to drug cycle as traditional knowledge is very rich and of high quality," Kalam maintained.

Referring to a meeting with agronomist Norman Borlaug, Kalam said in the years ahead, the greatest challenge before India and the world would be to increase food production despite diminishing availability of land and water resources.

"The new technology would have to be capable of doubling production by 2020, when the global population will have increased from six billion to eight billion," he said.

In the field of health, Kalam said research on stem cells, which had the ability to renew themselves and could be induced to perform special functions, offered tremendous potential for India.

"The time has come for us to prove our capability to use these tools in the field of health to tackle endemic diseases like tuberculosis and malaria and find a cure for blindness," said Kalam.
Source: IANS

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