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