India knows importance of Biotech: Ansari

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Hyderabad, Feb 7: Vice-President M Hamid Ansari today said India was one of the very few developing countries to have recognised the importance of Biotechnology for advancing agricultural and industrial growth.

Inaugurating the Fifth Edition of BIO-Asia 2008 here, he said the VI Five Year Plan was the first document to cover Biotechnology development in the country. It sought to strengthen the country's capabilities in areas such as Immunology, Communicable Diseases and Genetics.

Biotechnology was important because it lays at the intersection of two areas critical for the country's economy -- Agriculture and Knowledge Industry.

The growth rate in the agriculture sector had been a mere 2.7 per cent in the last financial year yet more than half of the population directly depended on it for livelihood, Dr Ansari added.

He said India, being the second largest food producer, offered a huge market for Biotechnology products.

''Biotechnology is a key tool in improving productivity of agriculture and ensuring higher growth rate. Such technologies must be advanced and directed towards resource-poor farmers and under-developed regions, '' Dr Ansari said.

Crop Biotechnology, plant tissue culture, biological pest control and bio-fertilizers were some of the promising areas where significant progress had been made.

A Department of Biotechnology was set up in 1985 to give impetus to the development of the sector.

Biotechnology straddled two areas vital for human beings -- Health and Food. With population of over one billion and significant disparities in the level of human development across regions and groups, Indian interest in Biotechnology was understandable. The Vice-President said producing cheaper vaccines, innovative drugs, new therapies such as those using stem cells, bio-engineering, human genetics and genome analysis had been areas of focus.

UNI

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