7) ICRISAT initiates e-network on agri-biotechnology (21 October 2004)

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is initiating an electronic discussion network on agri-biotechnology. This initiative was announced at a recently held Media Workshop on Agri-Biotechnology – Covering agricultural biotechnology: Issues and opportunities for the news media.

The media workshop brought together nearly 30 senior specialist journalists from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and scientists, communication specialists, government officials and civil society representatives. The initiative on the discussion network emerged to fill the need to communicate on agri-biotechnology.

According to Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, the discussion network, when established, will serve to connect various stakeholders on agri-biotechnology on a common platform, through which ideas and developments can be communicated.

“As an international agricultural research institute working to create international public good, we intend to communicate on the role of agri-biotechnology for crop improvement,” Dr Dar said.

ICRISAT has been using biotechnology as a tool to improve the productivity of its mandate crops – pearl millet, sorghum, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut – to provide better livelihoods to the poor farmers of the semi-arid tropics.
The Institute has been using molecular marker assisted breeding to rapidly assess and improve the crops to increase productive and deal with pest, drought and other stresses.

In the recent years, ICRISAT also launched the contained field trials on two transgenic crops – groundnut with protection against the Indian Peanut Clump Virus and pigeonpea resistant to the pod borer Helicoverpa armigera. Research work on other genetically modified varieties of ICRISAT mandate crops are also being carried out.

The electronic platform will link journalists and stakeholders located in different parts of the globe.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.