India is a country that continues to struggle with the adoption of genetically modified crops. Some groups within the country seem to support biotechnology while others actively rail against it. In a new move, the country announced it would set up the Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology that will support research into developing crops with traits for yield and tolerance to stress. Officials gave approval to develop the proposed institute.
The institute will be a deemed university and will have different schools to import knowledge in genomics, bioinformatics, genetic engineering, nano biotechnology, diagnostics and prophylactis and basic and social sciences and commercialization.
The mandate of the institute would be (i) to undertake multi-disciplinary basic and strategic research with a view to future developing crops for traits such as increased yield, or increased tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress; (ii) to design and start academic programs to develop trained manpower for fundamental research in agricultural biotechnology, and award post-graduate doctoral and post-doctoral degrees; (iii) to provide its research output to breeders and developers in agricultural universities and other institutions, to develop the germplasm, vaccines etc. that would enhance productivity and reduce losses due to biotic and abiotic stress; (iv) act as a mother institute that would provide both curricula and course material to India's agricultural universities and other institutions running or trying to establish successful agricultural biotechnology graduate and post-graduate programs.
The recent decision to approve this undertaking shows that India is taking a hard look at improving its agricultural knowledge in order to feed an increasing population. Officials appear to have acknowledged that increases in food production will need to come from increasing productivity.