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Neglecting biotechnology... By Abdul Wadood

23 December, 2013

Biotechnology is the fastest growing industry throughout the world today. It has the amazing potential to change the fate of any country. All developed countries have adopted the use of this field and have produced products for medical use or those that are food-related, exporting them throughout the world, generating trillions of dollars. According to research conducted by the science and technology research organisation Battelle, the biotechnology industry alone contributed $ 65 billion to the US economy in 2012. After observing such great achievements by western countries, our neighbours India and China accepted this field as a game changer. The biotechnology sector in India is expecting to achieve a revenue of $ 11.6 billion by the year 2017.

In Pakistan, Dr Attaur Rehman, the former Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairperson, constituted a national commission for biotechnology in 2006 to bring Pakistan to the front line of the world's economic powers. Unfortunately, our former government closed the commission in 2009 and transferred all the funds allocated for the research and labs elsewhere. Many universities initiated biotechnology programmes and thousands of students are currently enrolled. Pakistan is the only country where no proper mechanism exists to support biotechnology. If this situation does not change, the futures of thousands of students will be compromised.

Although Dr Attaur Rehman himself raised this issue many times, I again request Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to reopen the commission and provide patronage to the biotechnology industry by setting up research labs and institutions on an urgent basis. Please allocate special funds for the universities to establish necessary labs.

ABDUL WADOOD RAJA
Rawalpindi

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