Second Meeting of the International Biotechnology Advisory Committee (IBAC)
Biotechnology is a key technology at present and holds enormous potential in the future. It holds the promise of improved health and welfare for all through better understanding of disease, improved diagnosis, and treatment. New techniques in the field of agricultural and food production has enormous potential to increase productivity, food qualities, improved environment protection.
Biotechnology presents enormous scientific, commercial and business opportunities for the ISESCO Member States but entails great challenges and need careful and precise planning. In order to benefit from the enormous potential biotechnology holds for the responsible sustainable development and management of biotechnology, ISESCO developed a “Strategy for Development of Biotechnology in the Islamic Countries” which was adopted by the 2nd Islamic Ministerial Conference of Higher Education and Scientific Research (Libya September 2003) and further approved by the 10th Islamic Summit (Malaysia, October, 2003). The Implementation mechanisms were approved by third Islamic Conference of Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research -ICMHESR-3- (Kuwait, November 2006) and creation of IBAC in 2009. These implementation mechanisms of biotechnology seeks to mobilizing the highest concerned authorities towards immediate development of biotechnologies, preparation of research and development programme consistent with the needs and priorities, strengthening a supportive biotechnological education system, development of the qualified human resource, establishment of biotechnological centers of excellence with high level research and innovative capacities and development of necessary infrastructures to ensure commercialization of biotechnologies. The Implementation Mechanisms aim to ensure action on important recommendations of the Strategy, while addressing the challenges and opportunities of these new technologies.The implementation mechanisms of the Strategy of Biotechnology seek that the development and application of these technologies at national level take place respecting the social and ethical values recognised by our societies. These mechanisms also address the present situation and bring future developments in view of rapidly changing environment.
The Islamic Conference recommended to establish an International Biotechnology Advisory Committee (IBAC), as proposed under the Implementation Mechanisms, to coordinate with the national biotechnology commissions and committees of the ISESCO Member States. IBAC in collaboration with other regional and international bodies ensure that appropriate measures are taken to ensure smooth implementation of programmes and projects for promotion of biotechnology. The Islamic Conference also recommended that each Member State should set up its own National Biotechnology Development Agency (NBDA), if not already done so, to act as a true task force dedicated to promote and coordinate all local biotechnology initiatives in alignment with national priorities and development programs. National Biotechnology Development Agencies were proposed to also work in coordination of the International Biotechnology Advisory Committee (IBAC) in order to enhance collaboration and share experiences and expertise as well as foster cooperation and collaboration among the Islamic countries.
- Strategic biotech initiatives in the developing and Islamic world:
Islamic countries are already devising and using strategic biotechnologies to solve problems of local, regional and global significance. The European Union (EU), through the Lome Convention, promotes technical co-operation with 70 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). Research institutes and universities are engaged in competitive breakthrough peer-reviewed research are constantly attracting scientific excellence. The horizontal flow of research amongst and between developing countries strengthens South-South regional and international collaboration which involves diversification of agricultural production, industrial enterprises and development of required human resource base. Islamic countries need to enhance cooperation and collaboration amount themselves to reap these benefits and learn from their experiences. Self-sufficiency and self-reliance, the twin hallmarks of a "stand alone" market-oriented economy are crucial and can be achieved only through co-operative networking and sharing of experiences, and knowledge-rich resources.
- Capacity-building in biotechnology for development
Existing biotechnologies, if utilized and propagated appropriately by the developing countries, may help to bring enormous economic benefits, stabilize the national economic progress. Biotechnology is a cross-cutting technology encountered in wide application across several sectors of development. Research in biotechnology is continuously discovering new technology, which offers new opportunities and challenges. We have examples of a single biotech-based product generating a sale of many billion of dollars in a year by a single country. Applications of biotechnology in the field of agriculture, with adequate ethical and safety standards, offers new tools in boosting food output which may help million of people in the Islamic Countries who do not have sufficient food for their survival or suffering from malnutrition. Similarly, there are million of peoples who are suffering due to disease and poor health in Islamic countries but are unable to use modern pharmaceuticals imported from abroad due to their high costs. Biotechnology application in health and medicine may help to produce important biotechnological drugs and vaccines indigenously and may provide a wide range of new and better treatments for common diseases. Similarly in other fields, like engineering sciences, genetics, informatics, molecular biology and microbiology, the neurosciences and nanotechnology etc., biotechnologies hold tremendous potential to solve our various challenges and makes important contributions to the new knowledge-based economy and markets. Islamic countries must harness modern biotechnology to sustain economic growth and competitiveness. Global biotechnology innovation and growth will continue to accelerate. The biotechnology-based technologies and industries will create new high value employment, generate health and environmental benefits, and provide a strong basis for continued economic growth.
Islamic countries, especially the LDCs, face challenges in setting up the agendas of international co-operation in deriving benefits from biotech markets. The lack of professionals, sophisticated equipment, relevant infrastructure, deficiency of national legal instruments concerning patents and intellectual property rights, and of financial support widen rather than bridge the gap of R & D in biotechnology between the industrialized and developing countries. Hence there is a distinct need for education and capacity-building important elements in the use of biotechnology for development.
The style, substance and scale of biotechnology in the developing world vary within a region, and from region to region. Hence the need for devising educational and capacity-building schemes that enable developing countries embark on sustainable development, possibly in network cluster groups once account has been taken of their level of research in biotechnology; of their capacities to produce and commercialize biotech products; of their degree of participation in developing national, regional and international biotech governance dealing with biosafety, conservation and trade of genetic diversity; of their capability and capacity for national education and training; and of their ability to engage in regional research since the scope and scale of biotech literacy varies amongst countries in a region. Many of the advanced developing countries, unlike several LDCs, have well established centres and institutions with the capability to educate and provide training on general and specific issues
Research in biotechnology has also highlighted the need for attention to intellectual property rights that cover patents, copyright, database rights, design rights, trademarks and confidential information and processes. There is a need for clarity on how biotech research knowledge is generated, shared, and owned, and on the possession of proprietary rights in relation to natural resources and compensation costs. Recent experiences of some developing countries on biotech issues precipitated by the use of genetic engineering with non-protected natural resources and biodiversity has emphasized the need of safeguarding indigenous traditional knowledge and its use in the absence of adequate compensation costs. Also in many developing countries patent law is either outdated or non-existent. There is a need for training biotech entrepreneurs in the value and usefulness of patent and intellectual property legislation. Though several developing countries are signatories to international conventions, enactment of subsequent national legislation is slow or still in the pipeline. Lessons learnt indicate there is a clear need for capacity-building and of good practices in the scientific, legal and ethical aspects concerning intellectual property.
- Composition and Task of International Biotechnology Advisory Committee:
The International Biotechnology Advisory Committee (IBAC) composed of biotechnology experts from the Member States and international consultants and representatives of concerned Organizations as well as OIC organizations. The International Biotechnology Advisory Committee (IBAC) contributes toward biotechnology progress by evaluating progress in the field of biotechnology under the strategy and in accordance with the implementation mechanisms. It covers all areas of biotechnology and provides comprehensive advice on policy issues and common opinion that focus on the dimensions of health, ethical, social, law, economic, scientific and environmental biotechnology. It will bring expertise in areas of science, nutrition, law, environment, ethics and Public Advocacy. The international organizations will be accorded observer status.
The IBAC enhance in the identification of the region’s strengths – and the clusters that offer the best potential for the region’s economic success – and in developing specific action plans that will accelerate their development. Also it strengthens in developing an economic framework that allows the region to concentrate its resources in most effective way. IBAC could foster a more collaborative culture, with common values of innovation and flexibility throughout the entire sustainable development – including private sector firms, government, educational institutions, and others.
The IBAC focused on:
- Pinpointing the economic initiatives or actions that cut across multiple clusters – those that will result in the greatest impact on the overall economic growth of the region.
- Encouraging more interaction between industry and research centres and universities – ensuring educational institutions meet the requirements of the region’s businesses, and that industry will see the benefits in participating in partnerships with educational providers.
- Increasing the region’s excellence record in commercializing technology developed at the local and national universities as well as in the other government labs.
- Main Tasks of IBAC in strengthening strategic biotechnology:
IBAC focus on the following tasks:
- To act as a true task force dedicated to promote and foster biotechnology initiatives in alignment with implementation mechanism of the strategy for promotion Biotechnology in the Islamic countries national strategies and development programs
- To achieve coherence and maximize the use of scientific capabilities and to exploit the pervasive features of biotechnology,
- To address jointly problems of common concerns and foster cooperation among biotechnological researcher groups and experts in vital areas of biotechnology and genetic engineering.
- To pursue raising allocation to biotechnological research; strengthening the biotechnological research laboratories in Islamic countries at par with international standards, and incite public and private sector to invest in research and development.
- Provision of expert advice by renowned scientists to the needy Islamic countries to determine their priorities in biotechnological research and policies
- Encourage establishment of a biotechnology observatory for collection and dissemination of information, monitoring and advice, facilitation of access to new technologies, for both the general public and the business sector and support the establishment of international biotechnological research centres of excellence common to Islamic countries, to perform research of international standards in specified areas and provide hand-on training.
- Help to establish the bio clusters at national level in the member states and coordinate among member States in the bio clustering implementation mechanism of each country and will help to lead in full collaboration with local authorities and all stakeholders of the region. IBAC will coordinate with (IBEST), the Islamic Body on Ethics of Science and Technology - in member States.
- Recommending ways to promote public understanding of biotechnologies utilizing information and communication technologies, mass media and internet programmes and support technology transfer; identifying groups of people (from Islamic countries or Muslims abroad) to train on patenting issues; setting up an Intellectual Property protection framework for the Member States.
- Asses monitor and evaluate the results and review the outputs for annual reports of each country.
- IBAC will consider any other agenda item through mutual consultation.
Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan
Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and Malaysia
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