Updated on 11 January 2013
What about the arguments going on about choosing certain crops of interest for transgenics ? Is it demoralizing the effect for the industry in the long run and where does it lead us?
We should use transgenics where there is no option. The strategy must be to focus on big need rather than small one. For that the approach, one should not ask which technology but choose the right technology. Its the tenacity of efforts to win public opinion. We must work on a basket of technologies and not just the easier ones. We have traditional technologies such as MAS, and hybrids and simultaneously look for more transformable technologies. For those such as RNAi and others that are in nascent stage, we must continue to evolve. My whole feeling is that in case of any disruptive technology, there will always be challenges of acceptability and clarity.
I would say that this is not a mature way in twenty first century to handle such a complex issue. We should have courage to say we don't want to use it but we can't just destroy the regulatory system. Lack of clarity in assessment of risk and decision making for commercialization because there is no proper system in place for that. A particular state government might say that they don't want it but others who are interested can't be stopped from availing the benefits.
We must surely ask the questions that are legitimate enough but not at the cost of weakening the regulatory system. This is the country of Mahatma Gandhi. You can't use unfair measures for a purpose you believe is right. It is strange that few people doubt the quality of our products even though approved by RCGM. And that too after statistics show that 60% of these are being exported. I don't think these worries and negativism are justified when the available data suggests otherwise. Apart from various committees that surely require a full time chairman, there could be a committee of secretaries of ministers for discussing joint proposals at length to weed out any doubts that might crop up later. The agriculture ministry too can create the unique commercial set up for societal assessment of products.
Are you satisfied with the outcome on various projects for boosting R&D and PPP in biotech industry? How do you view relevance of bioclusters for the future?
I think the programs like BIPP and SBIRI have really helped to foster innovation and promote the industry. The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a right step in taking that further. There has been substantial progress but the glass is still half full. Would love to see the increased biomedical capacities, new diagnostics tools, affordable agricultural techniques among other various things. Scaling up of existing technologies through collaborations within the industry and also academia too is highly relevant for the sector to make an impact on the society in the long run.
The bioclusters are a step towards deeper scientific and business collaboration. We need enough such clusters and knowledge cities to promote innovation in the sector. Currently the development of three clusters at Mohali, Faridabad and Bangalore is underway. Redesigning the strategy consistently is very important for the industry, academia and policymakers to sustain the industry.