6 Oct 2008

Malaysia's Biotech Industry Expected To Grow 22 Percent Annually

Malaysia's biotech industry which is currently valued at RM1.3 billion is expected to grow 22 percent annually, driven largely by the development of oil palm, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Monday.

Abdullah said Malaysia should exploit its strength in the palm oil industry by focusing on new and economically viable biotech methods to produce renewable fuel."Innovative bio-refineries is a strategic area which will be looked at," he said at the third meeting of the Biotech International Advisory Panel here today.In the area of agriculture biotechnology, the government would continue to encourage the applications of biotechnology including genomic sequencing to improve crop yields, he said.

Malaysia will also deepen its strength in clinical trials in the area of health biotechnology.

Abdullah said one area to consider branching into will be genetic profiling of the population to increase the focus on preventive rather than therapeutic medicine."Focusing on these areas means refocusing government resources where necessary. It means improving coordination across all relevant agencies towards achieving faster progress in these areas," he said.At the bi-annual biotech meeting, Abdullah said many commended Malaysia on the efforts taken to improve the country's intellectual property IP protection environment, as seen in the establishment of IP court and IP enforcement.

"Malaysia is seen as one of the leading Asian countries in this regard," he said.Nevertheless, the development of a biotech driven economy is a long-term effort requiring long-term commitment.

He said Malaysia has made a very good early progress and the country should build on this momentum to chart a stronger future direction.Meanwhile, when asked on the commercial availability of biofuel in the country, Abdullah said: "We must develop the necessary infrastructure.

"He also said it will be more profitable to convert palm oil to biofuel when its price is lower. Otherwise, it wont be viable.

"The convertibility of oil for fuel can help all palm oil producers to maintain a certain level of income. They can switch. When the price is down, they can use biofuel. Then biofuel will have the added value and the price can be higher," he said.

Abdullah also spoke on the benefits of researching coconut trees which he said had similar properties.He said the research into coconut trees has been given a lot of attention and the government has spent money to rehabilitate coconut plantation.

"There is value in the development of the coconut industry. In the future, we can have a viable and profitable coconut industry because it will be as good as the oil palm industry," he added.

Source : Bernama.com October 06, 2008

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