The President held a meeting, via videoconference, on the development of genetic technologies in the Russian Federation.
Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region, 17 November 2021
The meeting participants discussed the implementation of the Federal Scientific and Technical Programme for the Development of Genetic Technologies until 2027 and issues related to human resources, logistics and technical support for research, as well as measures to involve the real economy in the development of genetic technologies in agriculture, medicine, and industrial microbiology.
Taking part in the meeting were Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, deputy prime ministers Tatyana Golikova and Dmitry Chernyshenko, Presidential Aide Andrei Fursenko, Minister of Healthcare Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, First Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Vasily Osmakov, Head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) – Chief State Sanitary Doctor Anna Popova, as well as heads of research institutions and business leaders.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
Two years ago, we launched a special programme to develop genetic technologies. Today, I suggest that we review its progress, along with the challenges that have emerged, so that this conversation leads to new decisions that will enable us to move forward even faster. We need to take into consideration that genetic research is rapidly developing around the world. I am referring to fundamental research, as well as the development of cutting-edge production facilities and entire economic sectors that are related to genetics.
I propose starting with the legal framework for genome studies and the use of genetic technolgies.
As in all other fields of research that are on the cutting edge, humankind so far has been breaking new ground, there are many challenging, controversial issues from both a legal, and a human perspective. You may have noticed that I mentioned this just a few days ago during the conference on artificial intelligence.
It is absolutely clear that legislation regulating genetics must open up wide possibilities for scientific research and innovation in human medicine, veterinary science, breeding and other fields. At the same time, it is necessary to clearly define the boundaries of acceptable use of genetic technologies. This is not only an issue of modern legal regulation but an ethical issue as well. These boundaries must be clearly set and recognised by scientists and businesses – and, crucially, accepted by society and trusted by the public.
Obviously, the issue of genetic information is extremely important. It is of primary importance that legislative mechanisms are developed that protect the rights of citizens and regulate the collection, use and protection of the genetic data of individuals and their families, including future offspring. Specialists will understand what I mean.
I want to stress that all decisions in this area must be carefully thought through, in a close dialogue with the scientific and professional community.
This concerns building an integrated and unified storage system for genetic material and samples. This work is already in progress as part of implementing the law on biosecurity. Based on the experience gained, we need to develop a modern regulatory environment for all forms of biological material collection.
I think it is also important to comprehensively describe the operation of the National Database of Genetic Information and national biological resource centres, one of which will be established at the Vavilov National Institute of Plant Industry.
I would like to emphasise that both Nikolai Vavilov and other prominent scientists and plant breeders dedicated their entire lives to preserving endemic Russian species and, in particular, the plants that have strategic and key significance for our food security. I am talking about wheat and other crops, of course. I believe that when it comes to genetic samples of particularly valuable plants, there must be special handling regulations in place. I will sign an Executive Order to this effect at the earliest opportunity.
All our scientific and technological projects should aim at achieving the national development goals that we have set for the current decade. This is why it is extremely important to focus all the priorities around people, improving the welfare of the people, and synchronise our efforts regarding deadlines, resources, and the measures we implement.
The scientific and technical programme in agriculture has been extended; we have extended these plans until 2030. I suggest we make the same decision regarding the programme for the development of genetic technologies, ensuring the proper funding for the ambitious results that we need in this area.
At the same time, I understand very well that, of course, scientists are often and perhaps most interested in, for example, decoding the genome, breeding a new plant variety or conducting significant experiments, which would be a tremendous success for them. However, unique discoveries should not remain just a scientific breakthrough: they must serve people.
I already said at the beginning that genetic technologies today are the basis for advanced solutions in many sectors of the economy and for the rapid development of new industries. You know this very well, colleagues. I mean the production of effective medicines, eco-friendly foods, as well as industrial technology, such as air and soil purification, environmental protection and, finally, ample opportunities for climate projects and the utilisation of carbon emissions.
To make scientific achievements improve the quality of people’s life, it is necessary to expand the involvement of our companies and businesses in the genetic technologies programme. I suggest we think about new ways to encourage the development of the cooperation tools we already have.
We agreed at the very beginning to encourage the work of our strategic partners in the development of the key scientific and technological spheres. In this connection, it would be interesting to listen to the proposals regarding support mechanisms for genetic projects, which Rosneft, one of our largest companies, is launching.
Of course, I would also like Mr Igor Sechin [Rosneft CEO] to tell us the details of the company’s current results and plans in this area, which is absolutely new for Rosneft, including the establishment of a competence centre and a programme to train advanced genetic science specialists jointly with Moscow State University.
In general, I suggest that today we hold an in-depth discussion on the training of personnel and support measures for young research teams.
Next, we should seriously strengthen partnership between enterprises in the real economy and world-class human genome research centres. They are working with research institutes and universities across the country to implement projects in the interests of medicine, agriculture and biosecurity.
Today I would like representatives from these centres to tell us about cooperation between scientists and high-tech companies, what additional measures should be taken to encourage businesses to take a more active part in research projects, including at the early stages of research.
Another important topic concerns equipment for genetic research. The demand for it at our research, medical and diagnostic laboratories is constantly growing.
In light of this, I believe it is necessary to support investment projects for the creation of domestically-made genetic research equipment and supplies, and, colleagues, I expect practical proposals from you regarding this.
Let us get down to discussing all these issues.
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