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Bioscience Symposium Opens in Beijing

The 10th International Symposium of the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (SCBA) opened Monday at the Beijing International Convention Center.

"Finally we are here in Beijing. This is an exciting time for our bioscientists," said Jean Chen Shih, one of the symposium's co-chairs and a former president of SCBA.

Her words well represented the feelings of more than 2,000 event participants among the elite in Chinese bioscientists from home and abroad.

"Emerging from the genomic era are functional genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics. With our collaborative efforts in these areas, we will be able to improve the quality of everyone's life," she said.

"Science for a Better Life" is the theme, with the SCBA dedicated to enhancing the interaction and professional growth of its members. To promote its major goals, the organization has held nine biennial international conferences in the United States, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan over 18 years.

The events have brought together bioscientists from academia and industry for the exchange of ideas, networking and collaboration.

"Life science and biological technologies will play a key role when addressing issues such as population and health, agriculture and environmental protection," said Lu Yongxiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)outbreak last year and bird flu this year have already warned people and government to emphasize more on life sciences innovation.

Agriculture in China is still not competitive in the world while the pressure it puts on the environment and resources has been more and more critical. The sustainable development of agriculture calls for more application of modern biological technologies, Lu noted.

China is a country rich in biodiversity, but its biological systems are fragile. Human activities in recent years have aggravated environmental degradation and resulted in rapid reduction in biodiversity.

Lu said he believes there is a great demand for life science and biological technologies to reveal natural law and to provide scientific solutions.

Besides, in terms of looking for environmentally friendly biological materials and renewable resources, life sciences and biological technologies will play a vital role.

"We are fully aware that the new science revolution pushed by life sciences and biological technologies will produce profound and lasting influence for economic development and social progress. Particularly in the fields of agriculture, medicine and environment, revolutionary change will be generated," said Xu Guanhua, minister of science and technology, at the opening ceremonies.

According to him, the State Council recently resolved to establish a panel specially responsible for biological technology development and industrialization as well as an industry association of biological technologies to facilitate regulation and management of the industry.

Xu also noted that there will be a significant increase in funds for life sciences research and the scientists enjoying international fame around the world will be invited to China.

(China Daily July 20, 2004)


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