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Breakthroughs in Biotechnology

Hits:3028   Date: 7/3/2006

Biotechnology has played a key role in Project 863 from its very beginning.

In all seven categories of research under Project 863, biotechnology was placed on top, with its three research themes labeled as 101, 102 and 103.

Theme 101 revolves around research on new high-yielding and high-quality species of flora and fauna.

Theme 102 concentrates on new medicines, vaccines and gene therapy, while theme 103 is about protein engineering.

The research in biotechnology has been closely associated with the fundamental need in a country where food and clothing have long been the most daunting issue.

In fact, the most prominent achievement under the category is the technology to breed high-yielding hybrid rice and transgenic cotton.

Progress has also been made in areas as recombinant drugs, gene-related critical diseases, gene therapy of malignant tumors and animal mammary-gland bio-reactors.

The two-line hybrid high-yielding rice was developed by a team led by the legendary scientist Yuan Longping, who is known as the father of hybrid rice.

This rice is now grown on 3.53 million hectares across the country, and production has increased by 2.5 billion kilograms, or 2 kilograms per capital.

Yuan and his fellows are now engaged in research on a new species called "super rice," which is intended to greatly improve the quality of hybrid rice while continuing to increase production.

Another major achievement is the pest-resistant transgenic cotton.

Scientists have inserted foreign gene fragments into a cotton gene to cultivate a type of cotton that is resistant to a pest called boll worm, a major threat to cotton growth in China.

It is one of only two genetically modified plants licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture to be able to commercially spread across China.

According to the ministry, this type of seed has been spread to about 366,000 hectares of cotton fields across China and significantly reduced the use of pesticide keeping boll worms off.

In mammary bio-reactor research, the transgenic goat technique is in a leading position among similar research in the world.

Transgenic goats, integrated with the human Factor IX gene, can produce milk with expressed human Factor IX, a cure for hemophilia which is still hard to synthesize through chemical reaction.