KARACHI -  Many people involved in life sciences research and related activities don’t have a biological science background, these include physicists, chemists, engineers and information technology specialists in government, academic and private sector institutions and organisations.

Thus, academic and other educational institutions have a special problem in ensuring proper training and education of individuals at facilities engaged in activities where special precautions are needed. These views were expressed by Terrance Thomas Taylor, International Council for Life Sciences USA president, at the inaugural ceremony of a three-day Fifth International Council for Life Sciences Conference on ‘Responsible Conduct of Science: Ethical Concerns in Medical and Pharmaceutical Practice and Research’ held here at KIBGE, University of Karachi (KU) on Sunday.

He observed that science must be properly funded and social, cultural and religious aspects must be properly understood so that society could reap the social and economic benefits of science. “Scientists and researchers in Pakistan are doing a great job, and especially I am delighted to see such great interest of the students and faculty members of the KU at this particular conference,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, KU Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan welcomed the foreign scholars at the university and congratulated Professor Dr Abid Azhar on organising the conference. Ziauddin University VC Professor Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui said, “Despite limited resources of science and technology, our scientists and scholars are doing quality research. They have devoted their lives and careers for the promotion of culture of research and science in the country for which they deserve recognized.”

International Council for Life Sciences, Pakistan President Dr Anwar Nasim said that Pakistan was blessed with talented, committed and disciplined youth. “The government must be sincere to promote science and technology since the budget reserved for their promotion is very low,” he emphasized.

Later, while presenting research papers, meritorious professor and Department of Geography Chairman at KU Professor Dr Jamil Hasan Kazmi said that ethical concerns and issues were serious challenges for everyday science around the world. 

“Every ethical code is embedded in a well-conceived world view. At large, for every human being world views determine the thinking process, role in this world and a formal ethical code to be practiced, he said, added that Islamic world view is the only of its kind which gives a comprehensive and ethical code of conduct for every aspect of life because it includes the concept of accountability and life after death which are absent in secular worldview which is materialistic, individualistic in nature having less socio-economic justice and less concerned with hereafter life.

“Therefore only Islamic world view ensures environmental ethics. Major causes of environmental crisis are human greed, selfishness, ignorance and extravagance,” he said, and added, “Contemporary scientists lack innovation and new ideas which were never presented before, all of the ideas and research are being done on old theories or ideas.”

Prof Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik from FC College Lahore, in his research paper, revealed that 13 percent of global population was malnourished despite the fact that enough food was produced today. “This shortfall is due to a range of factors, like lack of infrastructure for distribution of food, inability of the poor to purchase adequate food and food wastage,” he explained.

“11 percent of all deaths before the age of five can be attributed to Vitamin A, Zinc, Iron and Iodine deficiencies,” Malik said, and added, “More than 2 billion people globally are suffering from iron deficiency mostly in developing countries. 250 million children are affected by Vitamin A deficiency in the world.”

He further revealed that 58 percent of population in Pakistan was food insecure. “In order to improve the nutrition and availability of food, biotechnological researches are playing an important role,” he told the gathering.

Dr Muhammad Ismail from the Institute of Biomedical and Genetic Engineering Islamabad, in his research paper, said that the objective of bio safety, in medicine and health-related laboratories, specifically referred to proper handling of organs or tissues from biological origin, or genetic therapy products, viruses with respect to the environment, to ensure the safety of health care workers, researchers, lab staff, patients and the general public.

Dr A Q Khan Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE)

Director Professor Dr Abid Azhar, while delivering his address, said life sciences research was an increasingly global enterprise in which rapid advancement promised important contributions to health, food and energy challenges.