Source: The Hindu
Date: June 13, 2006

Industry urged to help provide benefits of biotechnology to consumers

BANGALORE: The Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) and other trade and industry bodies should rise to the exciting challenges of transferring biotechnology solutions in food security, health and energy needs from the laboratory to the field and to the consumer, Science and Technology Minister Ramachandra Gowda said here on Monday.

Speaking at an interactive session on "Biotechnology challenges and opportunities" organised by federation and the Bangalore Management Association, he said that though it was heartening to know that biotechnology had found treatment and cure for many diseases such as tuberculosis, it was disturbing to note that fake drugs often flooded the market and undid initiatives taken by the Government to provide quality healthcare to all sections of society.

"Just imagine, if biotechnology could find drugs and vaccines that can resist all diseases, the expense on healthcare would come down drastically," he said.

Ganesh Kishore, Vice-President (Science and Technology) and Chief Biotechnology Officer, Dupont, said: "Biotechnology has already arrived. What Karnataka needs to do now is to make products and solutions real. Every day, I think of three exciting prospects that biotechnology offers its applications in food and security, healthcare and meeting energy needs."

Dr. Kishore said Bangalore had become a centre of biotechnology in the country, and it now needed to build on its advantages. "Innovation is paramount to success, and this is something that ought not to be outsourced," he said. FKCCI and other trade bodies could consider drawing a business roadmap for biotechnology in terms of alternative fuel. "By 2020, we should have an alternative fuel that would compete with gasoline, and we must remember that the moment an alternative is found to petrol and diesel, their prices will plummet. We must move from hunting and gathering for fuel to an organised culture of alternative solutions, and India could extend research on castor and pongemia in the search for alternatives, he said.

Villoo Morawala Patel, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Avestha Gengraine Technologies, explained the prospects of biotech solutions in agriculture. She said it would be a good business model to have contract farming, where companies bought produce from farmers without affecting their landholdings, instead of making available vast tracts of land to private companies, which might encourage monopoly or lead to a failure to meet objectives of biotechnology.