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Biotechnology is vital for industry development, says scientists

INDIA - Research should be development orientated with direct socio-economic relevance, according to Dr George John, senior advisor of the Department of Biotechnology. He was speaking at the start of a two day workshop at the Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA).

The workshop aims to identify research priorities in aquacultural biotechnology in India's eastern region. It has been sponsored by the central government and at least 50 researchers and academics engaged in bio-technology research and education are participating.

Dr George John said that research in this important area of aquaculture needs to be increased. Government and industry are already supporting some biotechnology applications in agriculture and food processing, but fish production needs and warrants, more support.

"We need to see more projects that address the specific needs of aquaculture and the fisheries sector, said Dr John.

He is urging young researchers and those with innovative ideas to come forward and explore development opportunities.

Dr N Sarangi, CIFA Director, said that scientists and the commercial sector needed to establish convincing research proposals. Genetic development, drug delivery, stem cell research, bio-remediation, transgenics and nanotechnology were just some of the areas that required further investigation and applied research.

"Biotech applications, like health management through vaccines, probiotics and immunostimulants, marker assisted selection for trait identification, ELISA and PCR diagnosis, feed formulations and recombinant DNA technology have tremendous scope in aquaculture," he stressed.

He urged the industry to harness the full potential of these techniques because they will have immense production and processing value in the future. These scientific tools will not only increase productivity and profits, they will also ensure safer aqua-products for consumers and enhance the security of many rural livelihoods.