Agricultural biotechnology is vital for future food security in Pakistan

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry addressing biotech institutes, the academia and other stakeholders at an event titled National Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology said “government should create a legal and regulatory environment that is favorable for investment and transfer of technology in Pakistan.

Agricultural biotechnology is vital for future food security in PakistanThe event was organized by the Pakistan Biotechnology Information Centre (PABIC) in association with the Forman Christian College University (FCCU) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to review the status of agricultural biotechnology and highlight the constraints in its successful adoption in Pakistan.

He emphasized on bringing the advancement in agriculture sector by Pakistan must take advantage of the latest technologies, particularly biotechnology.

He stressed that “its top priority of the Ministry of Science and Technology to promote the development and commercialization of agricultural biotechnology in the country”.

The minister shared that the ministry was setting up a biotechnology park in Jhelum. He vowed that the ministry would revive the National Biotechnology Commission to expedite the introduction of biotechnology.

Dean of Postgraduate Studies at FCCU Dr Kauser Malik and PABIC Director Iqbal Choudhary pointed out on the occasion that Pakistan was one of the earliest countries to show interest in biotechnology.

Iqbal Choudhary added that the country was nominated to host an international biotechnology research centre back in 1981 but lamented that despite all the early promises, it failed to fully benefit from the innovation.

Dr Kauser Malik explained that Pakistan has a longstanding policy to adopt biotechnology, which is reflected in the establishment and funding of numerous research institutes and academic programmes across the country since 1994. However, policy disconnects amongst relevant ministries and regulatory bodies continue to create roadblocks in the way of technology approvals.

He stressed that the government and relevant ministries should provide an enabling environment for introducing innovative technologies in accordance with the international standards.

Other speakers also emphasized the importance of adopting biotechnology in order to grow plenty food for the growing population by using lesser resources. They urged government ministries and departments to frame policies and undertake reforms backed by science and technology rather than misinformation and anti-science propaganda.

Participants were provided with an overview of the development of biotechnology infrastructure and expertise in Pakistan.