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10 Conclusions and Recommendations In the past 10 yew, and particularly since 1986, China has made great progress in developing Me capacitor for biotechnology research, which will lead eventually to its application and commercialization. Funding has been increased to an absolute level "mater than Mat in any over developing country and to a relative level (adjusted for gross national product) that compares favorably with Hose in many developed countries. A competitive granting system that includes peer renew has been established to allocate these funds. New laboratories have been built and equipped with modern instruments. A substantial number of research groups routinely use sophisticated technologies ranging from DNA cloning to x-ray crystallography. Large numbers of scientists have been sent abroad for advanced Paining, and many of them have returned to China. Scientific productivity, as judged by the number of articles and journals published and the number of scientists actually engaged in research, is on the rise. Despite these advances, China's level of biotechnology research and development remauns id below that in developed counties. In basic research, Chinese scientists operate at an international level in only a few scattered areas. Genetics, first undermined by Lysenlooism, Men stalled was most science by Be CultuIal Revolution, is now too often bypath in favor of applied genetics like gene cloning. The literature survey revealed a paucity of developmental biology papers, which indicates a bias against using biotechnology to advance understanding of He basic knowledge of genetic expression and regulation Hat governs organisms' development. In applied research, He majority of projects are derivative or outright imitations of Western investigations. For example, 75
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76 BIOTECHNOLOGY IN CHINA more Man one-half of the applied genetics research articles surveyed described Be cloning of genes already sequenced and published in intemadonal journals. Me Chinese government's insistence on funding research of such low originality has led to a large and lamentable waste of rare resources. How, ~en' can China ensure that recent improvements in biotechnology funding and support ultimately Slate into improved research and technology? Although most of the suggestions below are neither novel nor supposing, Hey are sufficiently important and useful to bear mentioning. · Policymakers should recount at He pits for ~=ovadve and productive molec''1ar biology applications are dependent on a sound understanding of and training in He sciences of genetics and molecular biology. Educational and insd~tional reforms should be supported to bolster Paining in the basic sciences of biotechnology. · A better balance between basic and applied research should be sought. The best basic projects should be supported by large grants; conversely, bad or derivative projects should not be funded solely because Hey are applied. This could be accomplished by setting aside a certain percentage of High Technology Program or Seventh 5-Year Plan funds for basic research or by giving NSFC a separate budget for large basic grants. · Administers should realize tom support of biotechnology represents a long-term investment and should not expect research units to become self- supporting. Even in the United States, where more Han $3 billion is spent annually on biotechnology, few biotechnology companies operate at a profit. Early withdrawal of support will result in wasted time and money. · Downstream processing facilities should be subject to accountability and progress assessment as conditions for Emancial support Large capital expenditure pearls should be based on definite product idendfication. Budget allocations to facilities lacking these considerations would be better spent on the continued support and enlargement of key laboratories at centers that have a demonstrated capacity for high-level research. · The procurement system new to be reformed to ensure that scientists have a flexible and Pliable supply of He materials necessary to pursue research efficiently. In this context, giving scientists direct control over their grant funds should be cons · Continued international coope~radon at the governmental, academic, and commercial levels should be encouraged. · The development of joint and Chinese ventures to produce biotechnology reagents should be continued and expanded. · The protection of intellectual property rights should be improved to encourage foreign invesunent · Safeguards against scientific fraud should be instituted. · Chinese scientists should take greater advantage of the accessibility of most
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CONCWSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 77 materials published In international journals, Ocularly DNA clones and cell lines. This would prevent much duplication of efforts · The offering of special inducements to students and scientists returning from abroad should be continued and expanded · Certain measures concerning the return of students and scientists are counterproductive and should be eliminated. These include He restnction against leaving China for 2 to 3 years after completing a B.S. or M.S. degree, a period of the glee est creativity and productivity for many young scientists; the attempt to limit postdoctoral fellowships abroad to 1 yew., a period too short to accomplish much wow of significance; and joint Ph.D. programs (which involve coursework in China and limited subsequent research abroad) ~ allow student to learn techniques without understanding Heir scientific bases. What are He pros and cons of the Unity States providing further s~port for biotechnology in China? On He positive sits, China has a rich float and fauna and a long history of traditional medicines Hat may eventually provide useful resources for American biologic s and biotechnology entrepreneurs. China also represents a potentially huge market for biotechnology products, Educed either win licensed Ethnology or through joint ventures. But perhaps Be most important cons~deradon is also the simplest: China has a population of over one billion, nearly one-fifth of Be global population, and it is a developing count. For these reasons, China is an important test case for the successful application of biotechnology to meeting economic development goals and basic human needs an developing counties. In this crucial way, Chinese biotechnology gold can and should diverge from those of developed counties. On the negative side is He unfortunate conclusion of this report, namely, Eat He Chinese goverrunent has opted to attempt a direct replication of Westem biotechnology rawer than to support the basic, innovative research that is essential to tailor biotechnology to China's needs as a developing county. Because of the lack of emphasis on basic research, China is at risk of developing a cadre of highly Hind technically competent scientists who understand the mechanics of biotechnology, but not Be underlying science or the road ahead. Unless corrected, this deficiency will ensure Hat Chinese biotechnology will remain an expensive but nonproductive acuity poor recompense for He great effort and expenditures of the past decade. The root cause of this problem is government policy, in particular, He insistence that science generate eaniings, and, moreover, do it in short order. In the past few years, many Americans have been lulled into thinking that China Is becoming progressively less ideological and political. In fact, today's idea of "serving the economy" is no less rigorously pursued than was the idea of "serving the people" during the antingh~st c~npaugns and the Cultural Revolution. Within this context, how can He United Sates help to improve Chinese biotechnology and related research to the ultimate benefit of both China and
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78 BlOTEC~NOl-OGYIN CHINA itself? Below are listed several ideas for bow govemment-sponsored and individual activities. · Funds should be sought to continue combined laboratory and lecture minicourses such as Me ones cosponsor by CSC PRC and CAS. I hey represent a unique oppormni~r to in~duce Chinese scientists to bow the technologies and philosophy of modem biological science, particularly in areas mat are weak in Ch~a, such as gene regulation and developmental biology. It Is essential that Hey be held on a continuous basis at a dedicated facility; only then will it be possible to achieve Be goal of full Chinese palpation In t~hing these courses. · A low cost but potentially productive activity Fat Be CSCPRC should consider would be sponsorship at a U.S. facility in Beijing of a lecture series on the ffonders of biology. Periodically, (one to four dines a year) prominent American and Chinese scientists would lecture on the most recent advances in basic and applied biology. A major aim of this progr~un would be to foster contacts and interactions among Chinese scientists who, at present rarely go outside their own workplace and who often Gil to inform "outsiders" of visits by scientists from abroad Amencan participants could be drawn from the pool of visiting U.S. scientists who pass Trough Beijing, thereby avoiding any outlay for Ravel funds. Chinese lecturers could be nominated by Chinese universities, CAS, or venous ministries and state commissions. · Appropriate anonyms should bepromoed for science policy discussions among visiting scientists, Heir Chinese counterparts' and Chinese government and Park officials. Discussions should expand understanding of the fact~s that determine a sound end productive science research in~astruc~e and adminis~ion. Special efforts should be made to engage senior policy planners in such forums as a way to outline and emphasis ways Hat government policies help or impede scientific p~gres;s. · Additional research on the biological and agncul~ral resources of China should beconduc~ While this repast uncovers only a few exciting developments in Chinese biotechnology, it should be remembered Hat He findings center on modem research technologies Rat are almost exclusively imported from the West Inspection of China's more traditional biotechnology areas would be useful, e.g., aguaculture, drought- and cold-resistant fruit varieties, high-nutrition rice vanedes, fennentadon of farm by-products, and testing of traditional medicines for unexpected activities, e.g., against the AIDS virus. This is a critical period for He development of biotechnology, biology, and all science and technology in Chum. Some important administrators are now taking the view Hat enough money }ms already been spent on biotechnology and Hat research centers and programs should "sink or swim" on Heir own. But others take He more farsighted view Hat China should continue to fund and improve its
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CONCWSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 79 research capacity, especially in He basic sciences, so Cat when biotechnology finally does realize its potential, China will be well placed to reap its benefits. Regardless of which policy is adopted, American sciends~individually or Trough governmental, academic, and commercial groups will have many oppor~ides to collaborate win Bed Chinese colleagues to advance biotechnology in China and worldwide.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: