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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 The Star
 Biotech industry calls for more R&D funds

28/3/06 KUALA LUMPUR (The Star)  -The Malaysian BioIndustry Organisation hopes the Government will allocate more funds for research in biotechnology and devote some attention to environmental protection under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

Chairman Datuk Dr Salleh Mohd Nor said: “Research is the only organised activity that promotes innovation, so to do that, Malaysia has to invest in research.”

Speaking at a press conference yesterday on the upcoming Biotechnology Asia 2006, he said the Malaysian biotechnology industry had a lot of potential. 

“The economy easily gets RM20bil in revenue a year from biotechnology, notwithstanding the bio-pharmaceutical industry,” he said. 

Bio-pharmaceuticals, he added, were worth RM2bil to RM3bil a year.

Biodiesel, singled out as one of the major drivers of growth, was something that cannot be avoided. 

“There is a lot of low quality oil palm that costs too much to convert into organic food products. We can convert that to biodiesel. And we can get biodiesel from other plants, not just oil palm,” Dr Salleh said.

He also said Malaysia should look into the potential of bio-prospecting, where forest botanicals like tongkat ali are made use of and turned into commercially-viable products. 

Indonesia is seen as a leader in bio-prospecting, with a herbal industry just for jamu (traditional natural medicine made of herbs) worth US$2bil a year. 

Biotechnology Asia 2006, organised by Protemp Exhibitions Sdn Bhd, will feature an exhibition, conference and awards from Aug 9 to 11 at Kuala Lumpur's Putra World Trade Centre. It is expected to attract over 5,000 trade visitors from 18 countries. 

This year, it will showcase products and services from over 100 companies.

The event is expected to draw academic and research institutions, biotech companies and key players in the agricultural, pharmaceutical, food and nutrition and nanotechnology sectors. 

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