India is â€˜leading in biotech sectorâ€™
[quote]Published: Sunday, 18 February, 2007, 08:47 AM Doha Time
WASHINGTON: India is emerging as a key biotech leader in Asia, surpassing China for the first time in areas planted with biotech seed, according to a leading agricultural researcher.
Citing the India example, Clive James, chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), said the next decade of research in crops improved by biotechnology will include a major role for the rapidly increasing number of projects in Asia.
ISAAA is a non-profit international network based at Cornell University in New York with centres in the Philippines and Kenya.
Countries in Asia increasingly are investing in agricultural biotechnology research aimed at helping them meet their growing needs for food, feed, fibre and fuel, James was cited as saying by the official state department website.
In 2006, India tripled from the previous year the area it planted in biotech cotton, its first commercialised biotech crop. India now has a total of 3.8mn biotech hectares while China has 3.5mn such hectares.
India is projected to invest $80mn in 2007 to develop a national network of research laboratories.
Already, with support from the US Agency of International Development and Cornell University, India has been conducting research on major food crops it consumes - eggplant that is resistant to shoot borers, potato resistant to blight, and drought and salt-tolerant rice, James said.
Biotech crops, also known as genetically modified crops, increasingly are being grown in and approved for import by Asian countries, he said.
The researcher, recently back from visiting several countries in Asia, said acceptance is strong among farmers in countries like India, China, Pakistan, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines where traditional crops often are destroyed by insects or harsh environmental conditions.
These farmers stand to benefit financially from increased harvests due to genetic improvements that make certain crops resistant to insects and because such crops need fewer applications of insecticides, James said.
â€œThe development of biotechnology will be a major development for all of agricultureâ€