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Use of biotechnology in sericulture a must: Expert

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India, the second-largest producer of silk in the world, needs the application of biotechnology in silk production, says K P Gopinath, professor of microbiology and cell biology department, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
He was in Lucknow to give the lecture "The Silky Path of Biotechnology" at the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP).
Gopinath said the need for biotechnology became even more significant in view of the fact that nearly 6 million people in India made use of sericulture, the cultivation of silkworms.
Although technology in agriculture and medical fields has advanced significantly, sericulture has remained traditional over the years.
"The silkworm has also served as a model organism for basic studies in Gene Expression and Development which can be used through genetic engineering for therapeutic proteins, vaccines and drugs" said Gopinath.
"Farming becoming Pharming is not a dream anymore but a reality catalysed by CIMAP. Our "bio villagers" models work to transform technology from rural to industrial sector. The latest example is Artemisia annua, the plant that produces anti malarial drug artemisinin," said S P S Khanuja, director, CIMAP.
The drug farming in CIMAP's bio villages is a venture from Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradseh.
"Such initiatives sets an example of how plant varieties and linked patents (IP) will open new opportunities for business and societal health simultaneously involving pharma of other industries whether MNCs or Indian", added Khanuja.
An Industry-Farmers business-technology interaction was organized at the CIMAP campus to provide knowledge and technology to both the farmers and people from industry so that they can form a quality chain and work in collaboration.
About 60 farmers hailing from Lucknow and neighbouring districts participated and interacted with industries namely- Emami group of industries-Kolkata, Disinfecto chemicals industries pvt.ltd.,-Lucknow and Padmavati herbs-Bareily.
The industries expressed their desire for contractual cultivation of medicinal and aromatic crops using CIMAP's technology.
Speaking on the targets ahead Dr. Khanuja said that the plant metabolomics will be taken up during 11th Five Year Plan to focus on the selected parts of the plant metabolome.


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