India, US Sign Pact On Agricultural Biotech R&D

New Delhi | Updated: Jul 1 2004, 03:36am hrs
In an effort to boost cooperation in agricultural biotechnology research and development, India and the United States have entered into an agreement on Tuesday. A letter of intent to this effect was signed by minister for science and technology and ocean development Kapil Sibal and US ambassador David C Mulford on Tuesday.

Mr Sibal said that the main objective is to develop pest resistant agricultural produce and to improve food production in the country. The critical focus will be on the production of rice and wheat. As per the agreement, the department of biotechnology (DBT) of the government of India and the United States Agency for International Development of the US will coordinate between the two countries.

The programme will encourage the creation of partnership to bring together Indian and US institutions to pursue agricultural biotechnology research projects of mutual interest including technology development, technology diffusion, biosafety and related policy activities.

The programme is also expected to include joint workshops, conferences, scientific exchanges and training of the scientists. Collaborative activities shall be subject to the laws and regulations of each country and funding may come from a variety of sources on both sides.

According to DBT officials, the objective of the programme is to increase the range of safe and environmentally sound technological options available to the producers and consumers of agricultural products. The focus of this collaborative effort will be on improving productivity as well as the nutritional quality of crops, DBT officials said.

Currently, drought salinity and extreme temperature conditions are experienced by crops grown in arid and semi-arid regions and these are some of the most critical factors affecting agricultural production. Specific research projects to address these issues will be developed. The technologies to be used to achieve the goals will be an appropriate mix of traditional plant breeding approaches and modern biotechnologies.