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2-Plants: 'Biotechnology solution to agri problems' in Pakistan



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TITLE:  'Biotechnology solution to agri problems'
SOURCE: The Dawn, Pakistan
        http://www.dawn.com/2005/04/01/nat26.htm
DATE:   31 Oct 2005

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'Biotechnology solution to agri problems'

ISLAMABAD, March 31: Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock
Sikandar Hayat Bosan here on Thursday said Pakistan was all set to enter
the era of genetically-modified cotton.

He was speaking at the concluding session of an international conference
on " Biotechnology for Salinity and Drought Tolerance in Plant". The
four-day event had been organized by the National Commission on
Biotechnology (NCB) in collaboration with Pakistan Atomic Energy
Commission (PAEC), United States National Science Foundation (USNSF),
Comstech, and Higher Education Commission.

As many as 45 national and international scientists exchanged views
regarding measures to fight back the disastrous effects of salinity on
crops and come up with drought mitigation strategy.

Mr Bosan said the developments made in cotton biotechnology by the
country's scientists were quite impressive and that Pakistan was set to
enter the era of genetically-modified cotton once the bio-safety
guidelines, to be issued by the Ministry of Environment, were put in place.

The minister said six million hactares in Pakistan were affected by
salinity and water logging, owing to which 25 per cent productivity of
crops had been affected. Biotechnology, he said, was the only solution to
the problem.

He said during the last four years of persistent drought, the canal water
availability had reduced by 45 per cent, resulting into billions of
rupees losses. This situation posed a formidable challenge to the
country's scientists to come with a solution.

Mr Bosan said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had instructed the Ministry of
Environment to finalize the bio-safety guidelines so that different
transgenic crops varieties evolved through our research could be released
for commercial multiplication.

He said during the last few years, the government had spent about Rs600
million on education and research on biotechnology. In his welcome
speech, Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik, NCB secretary and PAEC member Bio-
Sciences, said the conference had evoked enthusiastic participation by
international scientists.

Dr Kausar said overall 45 presentations were made in the conference with
18 coming from foreign scientists. This international moot will be made a
permanent feature to consolidate gains from long-term collaboration.

USNSF representative Prof Roberto said he was impressed by the
professionalism of Pakistani scientists and the availability of various
facilities when he visited the PAEC's National Institute of Biotechnology
and Genetic Engineering, Faisalabad.




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