Biotechnology conference opens today in Colombo

Sept 29, Colombo: A two-day conference on biotechnology, organized by the United States Embassy in Colombo, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and Sri Lanka Ministry of Environment will begin this morning at the Taj Samudra hotel in Colombo.

A press release of the Embassy said experts from America, Europe, Africa, and Asia will share their experiences relevant to Sri Lanka and analyze international models of biotechnology policy during the conference that is to end Friday.

Professor M.S. Swaminathan, the scientific leader of the green revolution movement in India, will join speakers comprising representatives of the local and international agriculture companies, leading scientists, academics, and regulators, including a representing from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Embassy said.

According to the Embassy, this is the first time that the Embassy and the Sri Lankan government agencies have organized an initiative on biotechnology similar to an initiative last year with the private sector.

During the conference, the scientists and regulators will discuss the possibility of implementing biotechnology to address key issues in local agriculture including productivity, arbitrary use of chemicals and the effects of climate change.

“The conference will stimulate proactive discussions on biotechnology and we expect a frank and forthright exchange of ideas and views which would hopefully steer Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector towards more vibrant growth and productivity,” Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy, Edward Heartney has said.

A Ministry of Environment official has said that the Ministry is engaging all relevant government agencies, private sector, scientists and non-governmental organizations to assess the potential risks and benefits as well as improving management techniques.

“The government also recognizes the need to offer special courses in natural sciences, technology and ethics to those who come into contact with biosafety issues and their ethical applications,” the official has said.

Biotechnology significantly increases agricultural productivity and protects the environment by reducing the need for chemical fertilizers, the organizers say.

The National Science Foundation, which takes the lead in mobilizing scientific research to enhance quality of life in Sri Lanka, says it is pleased to have organized this conference for the benefit of local scientists and researchers.

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