Like many other developmental sectors, biotechnology sector has also suffered from negligence in Pakistan with lack of funds and resources to also mismanagement. The substandard practice in hiring manpower and less trained personnel who run biotechnology institutions have also been the cause of impediment in development in the field. Development in biotechnology can help in agriculture, medicine, energy, environment and in other industrial applications, and all of these sectors are in need of dedicated efforts.
The only effort that seems to come forward from the government is to create commissions and bureaus that give “seats” to “most favoured people” without delivering on any substantial contribution. Similarly, the National Commission on Biotechnology was formed in 2001 which supervised development and research in the field, but now has been defunct. However, efforts are being made to re-start this platform because governance and regulations are required to implement policies through the advice of the people who are expert in the field.
Biotechnology can ease the way to progress, but that too has been a victim of negligence. Currently, there are around 26 institutions in Pakistan which are conducting research in biotechnology and genetic engineering. The Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology developed a strain of cotton called Bt. Botton which has been approved by the Punjab Seed Council and has been declared applicable in the fields.
So far, around Rs.1 billion have been spent on research and development in the field of biotechnology over the past five years on projects approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and the Higher Education Commission (HEC). This figure of the amount has been cited by the government sources.
Now, the National Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Policy and Action Plan are being formulated to be implemented in the coming years through different institutions. The attempt will be made to bring international standards and procedures in the development of biotechnology through technology incubators and biotech parks.