Recent progress in molecular biology and biotechnology is impacting the life sciences as well as the lives of people in unprecedented ways. Plant genetic transformation and molecular marker technologies have led to a paradigm shift in plant genetic resource management and crop improvement. Granting patent protection to genes has not only provided incentive for gene discovery and placed monetary value on germplasm resources, but also raised concerns about ownership and access to genetic resources. This book is an outcome of the presentations made during Dr. B.P. Pal Birth Centenary Symposium organized by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), New Delhi, India, in February 2006. It begins with the commemorative lectures, which trace the evolution of approaches to the search for new genes in the last seven decades, since the seminal article written by Dr. B.P. Pal on the 'Search for new genes' in 1936. The book provides a comprehensive update of the modern biotechnological options for biodiversity management, gene prospecting, development of 'designer crops' and bioremediation. The power of molecular genetics in dissection of complex biological processes, and the potential utility of the knowledge that links genes to metabolic pathways and phenotypes for plant improvement are highlighted. The book covers strategies for harnessing the community and individual knowledge for genetic resource management and gene discovery, and presents models for benefit sharing and participatory plant breeding. Written by eminent experts in the field, the book shall be of significant interest not only to the academic and research community worldwide, but also to the policy makers and science administrators.
Prof. V.L. Chopra is currently a Member of the Planning Commission of Government of India, an apex body that prepares strategic national plans and allocates budget for both Central and State government projects. He is an eminent scientist, teacher, and science administrator, who has served the Government of India as in various capacities including Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research & Education (DARE) and Director-General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). He pioneered the application of biotechnology in Indian agriculture. He is a Fellow of various scientific academies, including the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NASS), and the Third World Academy of Sciences. He has been awarded the prestigious 'Padma Bhushan' by the Government of India for his outstanding contributions to science and agriculture.