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Biotech Research Investment Advocated

China can become the world's leader in biotechnological applications in agriculture, medicine and industry over the next five to 10 years, according to one industry insider. This can be achieved with an investment of 100 billion yuan (US$12.3 billion).


"At least 30 billion yuan (US$3.7 billion) must come from the central government," Wang Hongguang, director of the China National Centre for Biotechnology Development, told China Daily yesterday.


In his eyes, biotechnology can become a driving force behind the country's economy, and the world's, if the government pays it due attention.


Between 2001 and 2005, the State has plunged 12 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) into biotechnology development and application, and now the sector boasts 600 billion yuan (US$74 billion) in terms of both its total investment and fixed assets.


"The figure, although 10 times as much as a decade ago, must be at least doubled in the next five years to maintain the current high momentum," Wang said.


Breakthroughs are expected in the fields of life research, environment and energy, but, Wang warned, the country is "suffering from a brain drain and a lack of funds."


These remarks were made as a prelude to the International Bio-economy Symposium slated for September 13 and 16 in Beijing.


More than 3,000 related international officials and experts from up to 20 countries, regions and organizations are expected to participate in this high-profile conference, which will cover various topics concerning basic life science, energy-related biotechnology and biological security.


China has amazed the world with several outstanding achievements in genetic therapy, vaccination and food fermentation. Some of its well-funded projects, such as therapeutic vaccines against AIDS and hepatitis B and transgenic plants, are expected to yield results.


(China Daily September 5, 2005)

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