ISLAMABAD: Limited resources, inadequate stock of trained manpower and lack of proper coordination among the institutions are some of the reasons, owing to which biotechnology sector has not been developed to its full potential.
As a crosscutting field, biotechnology has applications in agriculture, medicine, energy, environment and industry.
In Pakistan, there are 26 institutions engaged in education and research in biotechnology and genetic engineering.
A national commission on biotechnology was established in 2001 to streamline and promote research in this vital sector.
According to official sources, during the last few years, over one billion rupees have been invested on research and development in this priority area, through various projects approved by the ministry of science and technology and the Higher Education Commission.
A variety of Bt cotton developed by the Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology has been approved by the Punjab Seed Council and is ready for plantation in the field.
To promote R&D as well as commercial aspects of biotechnology in the country, increased government support is required for promulgation of biotechnology legislation, defining standards in accordance with international practices and in establishing technology incubators and biotech parks in public sector in major cities, said the official. International cooperation for capacity building in this area through joint research projects needs to be actively pursued, he said. The science ministry may assist in the adoption and implementation of “National Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Policy and Action Plan”, proposed by the defunct National Commission on Biotechnology, which has not been approved so far.
Re-establishment of national commission on biotechnology and charging it with the task of coordinating nationwide research programmes in different areas where biotechnology can be applied is also in consideration.
Government is also planning to review the draft of national biotechnology and genetic engineering policy and action plan, and implement it with the support of relevant organisations.
Enacting biotechnology related legislations and establishment of biotechnology incubation centers is priority of incumbent government, added the official.