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Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Science and Technology (S&T), Dr. Arnoldo Ventura, has called for speedy debate and passage of the biotechnology policy, when it goes before Parliament later this year.
He noted that the implementation of the policy would position the country to benefit from the global multi-billion dollar biotechnology industry.
The S&T Advisor, who was addressing the final consultation on the draft policy at Jamaica House today (Jan. 11), said that biotechnology was pivotal to the development of agriculture and agro industry, noting that over the last 10 years, more than 35 million farmers in some 18 countries have grown more than 400 million hectares of biotechnological crops, exceeding $45 billion in net worth.
“No country, especially one with an agricultural base, can afford to ignore these developments. They are destined to affect negatively or positively the prospects of all nations depending on the use of these knowledge, skills and capabilities,” he stated.
According to Dr. Ventura, it was in the country’s interest to adopt the policy, as it would greatly boost the economic progress of the nation as well as position the country to compete favourably with more developed nations, which have been exploiting biotechnologies.
Minister of Information and Development, Donald Buchanan, who convened the meeting, said the “time has now come to invest in the mechanisms that will allow us to use developments in biotechnology for agro-industrial progress, human and environmental health, bio-safety and bio-diversity, and the protection of national resources.”
Among the key policy objectives are the creation of an environment that enables the growth of the biotechnology industry, the promotion of research, increased public/private sector involvement and investment in high quality infrastructure with support services.
Biotechnology has been at the forefront of development in food, feed, fibre and medicine. Several nations have made considerable progress in the application of agro-biotechnology in growing genetically improved crops. The estimated economic benefit of such applications in the United States and Canada, was put at US$6 billion in 2005.