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Biotech prepares for rapid expansion

  BEIJING, Sept. 15 -- Biotechnology could become the fastest growing industry in China for the next 15 years, according to Minister of Science and Technology Xu Guanhua.
  "Biotechnology will be put high on the country's mid-and-long-term scientific and technological development strategy for 2006 through 2020," said Xu at the opening ceremony of the International High-level Forum on Bioeconomy held in Beijing yesterday.

  Though nothing was mentioned about how much the government will invest in support of the sector's development in the years to come, Xu noted the investment will be expanded a lot, and that the money will be collected through multiple sources.

  In the past decades, the State has invested 15 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) in biotech development.

  He said the government will give priority to stimulating creativity in biotechnological development in the long run.

  Significance will be attached to the fields most likely to produce breakthroughs in China, such as genomics, proteomics, transgenic food, vaccine development and the modernization of traditional Chinese medicine, he said.

  "Compared with some developed countries, China has many fewer biotechnology patents," he said.

  Statistics show nearly 60 per cent of the patents related to biotechnology come from the United States, followed by Europe and Japan.

  A survey completed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences last year found the country's total applications for biotech patents ranked fourth in the world between 2001 and 2003.

  Further efforts will be also made to train more biotech professionals and to establish a number of advanced laboratories, steering towards life sciences and other progressive biotechnologies, Xu said.

  Eventually, all the advancement in research and development will lead to a bioeconomy boom, he said.

  China currently has 200 government-funded laboratories concerning biotechnological research, and 500 related companies.

  The three-day forum has attracted nearly 4,000 participants from up to 20 countries, regions and organizations.

  Ten topics are being discussed concerning basic life science, energy-related biotechnology and biological security.Enditem

  (Source: China Daily)

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