ISLAMABAD - Limited resources, inadequate stock of trained manpower and lack of proper coordination among the institutions are some of the reasons owing to which biotechnology sector has not been developed to its full potential.

Biotechnology has applications in agriculture, medicine, energy, environment and industry. In Pakistan, there are 26 institutions engaged in education and research in biotechnology and genetic engineering. A National Commission on Biotechnology was established in 2001 to streamline and promote research in sector.

During the last few years, over Rs 1 billion have been invested on R&D in this priority area, through various projects approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the HEC.  A variety of Bt cotton developed by the CEMB has been approved by the PSC and is ready for plantation in the field. To promote the R&D as well as commercial aspects of biotechnology, increased government support is required for promulgation of biotechnology legislation, defining standards in accordance with international practices and in establishing technology incubators and biotech parks in public sector.

 in major cities, official said.

International cooperation for capacity building in this area through joint research projects needs to be actively pursued, official said.

MoST may assist in the adoption and implementation of “National Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Policy and Action Plan”, proposed by the defunct National Commission on Biotechnology, which has not been approved so far.

Re-establishment of `National Commission on Biotechnology’ and charging it with the task of coordinating nationwide research programmes in different areas where biotechnology can be applied is also in cosideration.

Government is also planning to review the draft of `National Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Policy and Action Plan’ and implement it with the support of relevant organizations.

Enacting biotechnology related legislations and establishment of biotechnology incubation centers is priority of incumbent government, official said.