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Genomics and Biology. Biotechnology and genomics.
Initiatives to promote Biotechnology in India

Keeping in view the tremendous opportunities offered by various facets of biotechnology sector for the development of nation and addressing issues of food security, agricultural production and yield, industrial pollution and application and medicinal benefits, the Indian Government has taken a number of initiatives to promote the growth of the biotechnology sector in India.

An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) while considering the provisions of setting up of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and the SEZ Act and Rules has relaxed provisions in terms of both the land area and built-up area requirement for biotechnology sector to the tune of 10 hectares and 40,000 square metres. This would encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and greater participation of small investors in the areas of biotechnology in general and health and agriculture in particular.

The Government has taken special measures to promote the Biotechnology industry and to facilitate increase in turnover of biotech sector. Initiatives have been taken to provide an enabling environment for industrial growth such as exemption of biotech sector from compulsory licensing; permitting 100 per cent FDI in the sector, reducing the area of SEZ to bring it at par with IT sector; providing fiscal incentives to in-house R&D recognized industries in terms of exemption of custom duty on capital goods, reduction in import duty and 150 per cent weighted deduction against expenditure incurred on in-house R&D.

Department of Biotechnology is also supporting R&D and technology development, both in the public and private sector, for developing products and processes which provide affordable biotechnology solutions to the growing food insecurity and health problems and issues.

R&D in agriculture biotechnology is being supported to develop improved crop varieties resistant to abiotic and biotic stress, specially drought. Salt resistant transgenic rice has been developed and is currently under field trial. Bio fortification of important staple crops such as rice, wheat and maize for enhancing macronutrients such as iron and zinc has been initiated. The country also participated in the International Rice Genome Programme with ten other countries. Full sequence of rice genome has been completed. It is expected that the decoded rice genome will help in the discovery of gene and DNA makers for development of improved varieties.

In the health sector, research is continuing for developing low cost and affordable solutions for public health. A number of vaccines and diagnostics have been developed which are under different stages of trial. Diagnostics for HIV, Japanese Encephalitis have been transferred to industry. Rota virus vaccine is in the advanced stages of trial along with the industry. Programmes have also been supported for developing identified drug targets for treatment of communicable/non-communicable diseases.

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