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Home > Discover Coimbatore > City Lifestyle > BIOTECHNOLOGY

Biotechnology is being touted as the next big revolution in India, after Information Technology.

It promises to make available improved pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial products. Discoveries in biotechnology allow for certain crops to have their own protection ring against insects and disease. These crops can thus be grown using less pest control chemicals.

Developments in food biotechnology will help the enhancement of Nutrition, Quality and Taste of food. Research has helped develop food crops with higher levels of nutrients that may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Besides food, biotechnology is making breakthroughs in health care. Since the initial production of human insulin to better treat diabetes, biotechnology continues to create more effective drugs for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and AIDS and vaccines.

In the future, some applications of biotechnology will be used to make material such as fiber for clothes, from "renewable" resources like corn. Other applications may help reduce our dependence on oil and natural gas and could reduce water and energy use by as much as 50 %.

Biotechnology is yet another knowledge-based Industry where Tamil Nadu has made its first move. The Tamil Nadu Government has based its 'Biotech' policy based on the recommendations of the high-powered committee set up under Dr. M.S.Swaminathan.

The policy has set its focus on four segments of Biotechnology -

  • Medical - Animal or Human Healthcare. The focus here will be on diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics like insulin and veterinary drugs.
  • Agriculture - Food. The areas of focus will be on opportunities to work with germ plasm database available with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).
  • Environment - The focus will be on bio-pesticides, bio-fertilisers, animal feeds, biosensors, waste management.
  • Industrial Products - The key areas are identified as food and industrial enzymes, fermentation products and biopolymers.

To achieve this, the Government plans to establish Biotechnology Enterprise Zones (BEZ) or Bio-valleys. Research organisations, Service providers and Companies will be encouraged to set shop in these valleys. The immediate focus is on the biotech parks and Bioinformatics & Genomics centres that have been planned.

  • A Rs 40 crore - Biotechnology Incubator Park near Chennai, to be set up by Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) in association with American Universities.
  • Women's Biotech Park in Kelambakkam, Chennai, with focus on microenterprise and traditional technologies.
  • Medicinal Plants Biotech Park near Madurai, to be established in Small Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) industrial park, with facilities for growth of traditional medicinal systems.
  • Marine Biotech Park in the Mandapam area, with focus on production of sea-food items which will function in close co-ordination with Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Trust.
  • Bioinformatics and Genomics centre at Tidel Park in Chennai, to explore the Indian genetic pool, leverage on the pool of Indian Bioinformatics scientists and low cost software skills, facilitate research and enable bioentrepreneurs to commercialise their findings.

There are aslo plans to take inventory of existing bio-resources in Tamil Nadu, introduction of specialised biotech courses and better industry-university interaction to facilitate sharing of knowledge.

Author : Anuradha Sriraman

Interview - Supriya Sahu
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