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Bio-Tech Makes Agriculture Safer
Safe agriculture is the main shaft of agricultural administration while biotechnology will be the popular industry in the 21st century. Faced with intense global competition after its accession to WTO, how can Taiwan create its own value when the demands for safe agriculture meet with those of biotechnology? In recent years, in the domain of agricultural biotechnology, the biological pesticide, biological fertilizer and biotechnology of livestock have made great strides thanks to the efforts of the industry, the government, academia and scientific researchers.
Safe agriculture reduces the use of chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides and antibiotics by applying biotechnology and new technology to produce non-polluting, non-residual pesticides and high added-value, high quality agricultural products. After lessening the use of chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides and not adding in antibiotics to accelerate growth in animal foodstuff, how to ensure that crops keep on growing effectively and that livestock grow healthily is the key point for developing agricultural biotechnology.
The present eight domains of agro-biotechnology include: plant variety and seeds, aquatic industry biotechnology, livestock biotechnology, animal vaccines, foodstuff biotechnology, biological fertilizers, biological pesticides and diagnostic testing.
However, to focus on the development of domestic agricultural biotechnological industry, driven by the knowledge-based economy era, the four-year program "National Science and Technology Program for Agricultural Biotechnology, Phase III", seeks to integrate hundreds of programs for the eight domains described above from 2005. Mr. Tien-Jing Chen, head of the Office of National Science and Technology Program for Agricultural Biotechnology said that fifteen target industries with large potential have been designated because they are expected to help in the development of agro-biotechnology. Furthermore, they will enable Taiwan agriculture to promote knowledge industries.
Given the demands for safe agriculture, the program's third phase embraces various research programs related with biological fertilizers and biological pesticides, integrated into the target industries as cited in "Integration for Production Standards and Organic Agriculture Techniques". For example, "Development of Biochemical Blended Pesticides", "Improvement for Mass Production Techniques Development and Environmental Stress-resistance of the Cost-effective Plants Protection", "Developments of Plant-originated and Biological Pesticides", "Using microorganisms and organic matter to produce compound fertilizers and biotechnological fertilizers" and "Using microorganisms to produce multi-functional organic matter".
In addition to the above programs, there have also been impressive developments in the area of domestic bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides.
The Intellectual Property Rights Review Committee of the Council of Agriculture approved that the E-911 Bacillus thuringiensis plant be made available to the market beginning 2008. It was developed by the Agricultural Chemicals and Toxic Substances Research Institute and its technology was successfully transferred to the Fwusow Industry Co. Ltd. This is the first domestically produced Bacillus thuringiensis and will break the monopoly of imported Bacillus thuringiensis in the domestic market.
According to statistics, the output value of domestic bio-fertilizers has increased substantially from NT$38.55 million in 2003 to NT$40.6 billion in 2004. Its growth margin is 10.5 times higher than those in the eight domains of the agro-biotechnology, showing a growing trend safe and natural agriculture.
Regarding the development of green feed additives such as Probiotics and Chinese medical herbs, more choices of non-medicinal substitutes have been made available. These are used in livestock treatments in order to reduce pharmaceutical residues in livestock products. Meanwhile, the high-priced livestock brands such as "Crystal and Diamond Pig", "Natural Pig" , etc, have shown excellent sales records thanks to the cooperation between industry and academia. This proves that as long as the quality of the agricultural products is good and safe enough, consumers will always buy them.