STAFF REPORT LHR: As public health concerns are the main objective of states across the world including Pakistan, experts at an international conference widely stressed the need for ensuring effective implementation of biosafety and biosecurity concepts on a global scale and proposed to strengthen the research standards, besides focusing on developments in life sciences in the last century, health, environment and agriculture.

The three-day conference Emerging Trends in Life Sciences for Sustainable Development”, has recently been organized by the Biological Sciences Department at FC College, Lahore, with the cooperation of ECO Science Foundation and sponsored by European Union, ICLS, Global Liberal Arts Alliance (USA), ICLS (Washington), Pakistan Academy of Sciences, COMSTECH and the HEC.

In addition to numerous faculty and student participants, 20 delegates from 14 countries attended the conference. Over 70 presentations were made, focusing on food security, sustainable development, biosafety and biosecurity, healthcare and nutrition.

In his remarks, Dr Kauser Abdulla Malik, Dean of FCCs Postgraduate Programme, said that FCC has initiated three M.Phil and a Ph.D programme, as well as projects in these fields and was fortunate to attract several competitive research grants.

He described FCCs ongoing research projects in food security, bio-fertilizers, energy, health and environment. These were all related to sustainable development, a core objective of FCCs Biological Sciences Department, he said adding it was important to have a regional approach to solve problems.

Dr Manzoor Soomro, President ECO Science Foundation, described the work of ECOSF which is a specialized agency of the ECO with the mandate to promote scientific research and collaboration in member countries to lead to economic development.

ECO Deputy Secretary General Dr Hayri Maraslioglu shed lifght on the work of ECO and how it encourages sustainable development through economic integration and regional cooperation between its 10 member states.

Dr Marie-Francoise Saron, French expert for Life Sciences and Bio-safety, expressed the hope the conference would bring new projects which the European Union could support. The life sciences are helpful in improving the quality and standard of life. They have applications in health, agriculture, medicine, and the pharmaceutical and food science industries.

The experts proposed to develop a Center of Excellence on Biosafety at FCC which would be supported by ECO Science Foundation and the EU. On the occasion, delegate Dr Firuza Nasroyva offered training courses in biosafety at the Biosafety Training Centre in Tajikistan.

The conference emphasized the need for streamlining genetically modified organisms (GMO) regulatory procedures especially in Pakistan. In addition, a network on structural biology was proposed comprising HEJ/ICCBS (Karachi), NIBGE (Faisalabad) and FCC. This will be sponsored by the Pakistan Academy of Sciences and will prepare the scientific community for synchrotron facilities, already established at CERN and to be established in Jordan.

The experts also focused on human genetic disorders and recommended a collaborative project on autism with Japan. The conference deliberations resulted in the formation of networks to facilitate collaboration among the ECO countries and beyond.

They stressed that general quality management systems have to be understood as a basis for encompassing biorisk assessment and biomanagement systems. Such an IMS enables a global approach to ensure safety and security in the biological sphere. An IMS is relevant to integrate several standards into one cohesive system with a holistic set of documentation, policies, procedures and processes.

On the occasion, a recorded message of welcome from the FCC Rector Dr James Tebbe was broadcaste since he was not in the country.

Concluding the inauguration, Chief Guest Syed Babar Ali, Chancellor of LUMS, expressed his pleasure that there was participation from across the science and engineering disciplines which would provide solutions to benefit society as a whole.

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