Call for de­vel­op­ing na­tional bio-se­cu­rity plan

Regional workshop

Pakistan Observer - - TWIN CITIES -

ZUBAIR QURESHI IS­LAM­ABAD—There is an ur­gent to de­velop a Na­tional Biose­cu­rity Plan to ad­dress con­cerns re­gard­ing Pakistan’s pre­pared­ness for bio-threats in var­i­ous sec­tors in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­ment, agri­cul­ture and health.

Fed­eral Sec­re­tary for Cli­mate Change Min­istry Syed Abu Ah­mad Akif has called for ef­forts in this re­gard while ad­dress­ing the par­tic­i­pants of the Regional Workshop on Biosafety and Biose­cu­rity in Life Sciences Re­search, be­ing jointly or­ga­nized in Is­lam­abad by the COMSATS, Is­lamic Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (ISESCO), and Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS).

He was rep­re­sent­ing Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Cli­mate Change Zahid Hamid. He pledged his Min­istry’s sup­port for any ini­tia­tive with re­gard to the afore­men­tioned na­tional plan. As the Chair­per­son of Na­tional Biosafety Committee (NBC) of Pakistan, he es­pe­cially ap­pre­ci­ated the theme of the event.

Speak­ing to the 185 par­tic­i­pants of the in­au­gu­ral ses­sion, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral PAS, Dr. Zabta Khan Shin­wari shared the sig­nif­i­cance of the event in re­la­tion to the Na­tional DNA Day (25thApril) that com­mem­o­rates com­ple­tion of the Hu­man Genome Project in April 2003, and the dis­cov­ery of DNA’s dou­ble he­lix in 1953.

In view of the emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies in life sciences, such as ge­netic mod­i­fi­ca­tion in plants and an­i­mals (GMOs) and more re­cently hu­man gene edit­ing, he called for strong eth­i­cal guidelines that may check and mon­i­tor rad­i­cal trends in life sciences re­search chal­leng­ing the moral fab­ric of so­ci­ety.

ISESCO Rep­re­sen­ta­tive based in UAE, Dr. Ab­dulAzeez Hameed Ali, con­veyed the greet­ings of Di­rec­tor Gen­eral ISESCO, Dr. Ab­du­laziz Oth­man Alt­wai­jri and thanked COMSATS and work­ing for over 30 years for the pro­mo­tion of science by hold­ing work­shops and sem­i­nars within and out­side the Is­lamic World.

In his ad­dress, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor COMSATS, Dr. I.E. Qureshi, high­lighted the theme of the event and rel­e­vant is­sues in the de­vel­oped and the de­vel­op­ing world.

He made a spe­cial men­tion of the up­com­ing 8th Re­view Con­fer­ence of Bi­o­log­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion (BWC) that ad­dresses weapons of mass de­struc­tion of bi­o­log­i­cal and toxic na­ture. He noted with concern some miss­ing as­pects in the BWC, such as non-uni­ver­sal­ity, es­pe­cially in Mid­dle East, and ver­i­fi­ca­tion regime.

Re­fer­ring to some trends and tech­nolo­gies in life sciences, such as CRISPR be­ing used to tai­lor the hu­man ge­netic code, Dr. Qureshi con­sid­ered it im­por­tant to have rel­e­vant le­gal obli­ga­tions for sci­en­tists and re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions work­ing in sen­si­tive ar­eas of life sciences.

He es­pe­cially hoped that Pakistan’s Min­istry of Cli­mate Change would ben­e­fit from the tech­ni­cal de­lib­er­a­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions of this regional workshop.

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