[From CASE Reports, Vol. 12, No. 4, 1997]


FROM THE ACADEMY

Building Agricultural Biotechnology in Connecticut

Did you know that the wholesale rhododendron market in Connecticut is valued at $84 million, or 10% of the total US market? Researchers at the University of Connecticut are generating transgenic versions of the plant with superior disease and insect resistance. Royalty income could be substantial.

Did you know that industrial researchers in Connecticut are developing pathogen-free chickens for both national and international markets? Commercial producers in Connecticut raise about five million birds annually, with cash receipts (for 1995) of over $100 million.

Most of us think of biotechnology as it applies to developing new drugs-pharmaceutical biotechnology. But there are whole, relatively new areas of application, in improving forestation and ornamental plants, in producing disease resistant poultry and meat products, and even in developing transgenic organs for human transplantation.

The title of this article is also the title of a new Academy study, to be published in late November, that examines the research, educational, and industrial resources of agricultural biotechnology in Connecticut. Agriculture is a small but important element of the Connecticut economy with enormous potential for growth via biotechnology.

While the potential is great, the study offered seven specific recommendations to provide the opportunity and incentive for development of agricultural biotechnology in Connecticut. They are: (1) establishing a "Connecticut Agricultural Information Clearing House," an Internet site devoted to Connecticut agricultural biotechnology research, industry and business; (2) streamlining the regulation and permit process; (3) establishing core equipment facilities (scientific equipment centers for use by both the research community and emerging biotechnology firms); (4) establishing low-cost incubator space; (5) establishing a state-sponsored loan program; (6) establishing a state matching fund program; and (7) strengthening education programs in agricultural biotechnology.

The study was performed by a task force of academic and industrial representatives created by the Academy Technical Board on Health Care and Medical Technology and chaired by Professor Thomas Chen, Director of the University of Connecticut Biotechnology Center.

Copies of the report may be obtained for a nominal fee from the Academy office, (860) 527-2161.--D. M. Wetstone, Secretary


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