In a recent article, The Hindu argues why India needs to start expanding its foot print in the rapidly advancing field of Synthetic Biology. G. Padmanaban explains that Synthetic Biology has garnered so much “hype” because scientists are looking for better ways to construct new organisms performing unique functions such as processing signals, storing information and carrying out analogue functions.
That being said, the growth of Synthetic Biology is still being met with some roadblocks in India:
“MNCs are getting into the act in a big way and regulatory issues are coming into the fore. The environmental and health concerns in case of accidental escape of these engineered organisms as well as deliberate bioterrorism concerns have been raised.
“Patent and trade related issues, bio-hackers on the job, philosophical and ethical concerns regarding creation of artificial life have all been recognized. An International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) with all stake holders is in place.”
So, what should India do? G. Padmanaban proposes that:
“We need to build interdisciplinary research teams and also create a new institute to foster the area. iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines) is an international synthetic biology competition that was started for undergraduate university students, but now expanded to high school students and entrepreneurs. iGEM evolved out of student projects at MIT, USA and the first competition was held in 2004 at MIT with 5 teams and this number has increased to 254 for 2014 with teams from all over the globe.
“There are 84 teams from Asia with China accounting for as many as 50. I found only one team from India: IIT, Delhi! We need academia-industry collaboration to embark on innovation and move beyond reverse engineering.”
A perfect article in light of BIO’s recent announcement of its Breakout Program for the 2014 Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy. This year’s Summit will be held at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, December 7-9, 2014. One of the five tracks for this year’s conference is titled Advanced Biofuels and Biorefinery Platforms. A session within this Track will focus on India’s bioeconomy:
Track 3: Advanced Biofuels and Biorefinery Platforms
Spotlight on India: Advancing the Bioeconomy
Session 1: Monday, December 8 8:30am-10:00am
Moderator: Arvind Bhatt, Himachal Pradesh University
Debarati Paul, Amity University
Saima Shahzad Mirza, Lahore College for Women University
Narender Sharma, Kuantum Papers Ltd.
Filed under: Biofuels & Climate Change, Environmental & Industrial, advanced biofuels, Amity University, Arvind Bhatt, BIO 2014 Pacific Rim Summit, biofuels, biorefinery platforms, Debarati Paul, Himachal Pradesh University, India, Kuantum Papers Ltd, Lahore College for Women University, Narender Sharma, Saima Shahzad Mirza