AGRICULTURE
2ND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF PLANT SCIENTISTS

RESEARCH STANDARDS ARE HIGH IN PAKISTAN: FOREIGN BIOLOGISTS

KANWAL SALEEM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Feb 28 - Mar 6, 2011

A three-day 2nd International Conference of Plant Scientists was held at the Government College University Lahore under the auspices of Pakistan Botanical Society and GCU Botany Department on a positive note that the standards of both research and hospitality are quite high in Pakistan.

Botanists from Germany, Egypt, China, Canada, and Turkey, and across Pakistan have gathered in Lahore to deliberate on scientific solutions to food and fuel challenges, which are predicted to be faced by human race in the 21st century.

Agriculture University, Peshawar Vice Chancellor Dr. Khan Bahadur Marwat, Federal Urdu University, Karachi Vice Chancellor Dr. Qaisar Ali and Pakistan Botanical Society President Prof. Dr. Ikram-ul-Haq graced the concluding ceremony of the conference with their presence.

The delegates from Turkey including Prof. E. Altundag, Mr. I. Uysal, and Prof. I.I. Ozgit said that Pakistan has always been misrepresented in the international media, adding that Pakistani youth is highly talented.

A biotechnologist from Egypt said that the future of Botany and biotechnology seems bright in Pakistan, adding that students there are highly concerned about the environmental issues.

Addressing the conference, Dr. Khan Bahadur Marwat said that the holding of this conference is not only a great opportunity for the accomplished researchers but also young scientists must have learnt a lot from the life-long experience and expertise of the elite scientists from different countries.

Pakistan Botanical Society (PBS) President Prof. Dr. Ikram-ul-Haq said that the conference successfully featured five poster and 19 technical sessions wherein more than 360 research papers were presented on modern challenges related to Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology, Plant Physiology, Ethno-botany, Plant Ecology, Plant Physiology, Plant Anatomy, Biodiversity, Genetics, Plant Breeding, Plant Tissue Culture, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Plant Taxonomy, Paleo-botany and Mycology.

Prof. Dr. Ikramul Haq said that research in plant sciences has become very critical in the 21st Century, as we need to produce more food and feed for animals to meet the dietary needs of an increasing human population. At the same time, we also need to produce biomass and products from plants that can be used as sustainable industrial feed stocks. And, all this has to occur against the backdrop of global warming, changes in weather patterns, increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, continuing water shortages, loss of arable land and erosion of valuable topsoil.

The PBS President called on the plant research community to rise to the challenge of producing novel crop varieties capable of high yields under a variety of climatic conditions. However, he also accepted that this challenge in many ways highlights the need for investment in plant sciences across the range of research from the fundamental to the applied.

Dr. Ikram said a majority of the world's energy need is met through fossil fuels that apart from causing atmospheric pollution are limited and, at the current usage rates, would be consumed shortly. He said plant biotechnology also offers an opportunity to contribute to providing renewable alternatives to non-renewable petrochemical outputs in terms of energy sources, polymers, plastics, pharmaceuticals etc. These applications of biotechnology to non-food crops are potentially much more "environmental friendly" than current petrochemical processes.

Addressing the conference, GCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Khalid Aftab said the success of conference is often mistakenly gauged by the number of research papers presented in it and overall participation. He said quality of research papers should be given more weight. "We judge the quality of research by its ability to bolster claims, illuminate understanding, and add credibility to speech," he added.

Prof. Aftab also termed the conferences an opportunity for young scholars to interact with well-known biologists and learn from their knowledge and experiences.

Ozyigit from Marmara University Turkey, U. Yasar from Bartin University Turkey, Ali from Zhejiand University China, S. Sakcali from Fatih University Turkey, Muhammad Qaisrani from National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Faisalabad, Ms. T. Khanum and Aziz from Karachi University and Abid, M. A Qureshi from AARI Faisalabad, Ms Fatima and Akbar from Punjab University and M.A. Khan and Muhammad Javed of GCU Lahore presented their papers at the first technical session of the conference.