Inaugural Statement

Inaugural Statement


In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, The Merciful 

Statement by Mr. Khayyam Nikoui Director General, ABRII


Mr. Secretary General,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the occasion of the first expert group meeting on ECO Agricultural Biotechnology Network ECO, it is an honor for me to welcome agricultural biotechnology experts. As we start this auspicious event, I wish to extend my sincere thanks to Mr. Secretary General and his colleagues at ECO secretariat and my colleagues at Agricultural Biotechnology Institute of Iran for developing and supporting the network and organizing this meeting

In the next 25 - 30 years the world’s population will increase by about 2 billion people. Most of this increase, about 95 percent, will take place in the developing countries. This in itself is a challenge – feeding an extra 2 billion people while hopefully reducing the more than three-quarters of a billion people who do not have enough to eat today. We also must address the issue of more than 2 billion people who are deficient in one or more micronutrients such as iron.

Along with world population, the demand for food is exploding every year.  Already millions of people, mostly in developing countries, are dying of starvation and malnutrition and the world population is exploding at a rapid rate. 

As the population increases, the amount of farmland and number of farmers decreases.  The world must produce as much food in the next 40 – 80 years as it has in the past 12,000 years combined – and on less land. 

Biotechnology offers great potential to help us solve some of the most disturbing problems of the world today.  Biotechnology is one tool in our arsenal for feeding the world in the future. It is a solution not without problems, but it is one we cannot afford to ignore.

Agricultural biotechnology is defined as “a precise scientific process, including genetic engineering, used to modify or improve plants, animals or microorganisms.”  We do believe that Agricultural Biotechnology will enable us to produce more food in a smaller area, preserving the environment while helping to meet global demands. Biotechnology can help us to create a world where no one goes hungry, developing countries are self sufficient and agriculture is more earth friendly.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The history of Agricultural Biotechnology in Iran backs to 70 years ago, when Pasteur and Razi institutes began vaccine production based on traditional biotechnology. In 1975, institute of biophysics and biochemistry was established in Tehran University. The primary goal of the institute was not the research in the field of biotechnology however, they initiated biotechnology researches after the Islamic revolution in Iran.

 In 1985, biotechnology research institute was established in scientific and industrial research organization. The institute started traditional biotechnology which then extended to the field of modern biotechnology.

In 1987, the national research center for genetic engineering and biotechnology has been established. Then other research centers including seed and plant improvement institute, Technical and agricultural universities and health sectors have established biotechnology laboratories and departments and developed several research projects in this field.

In 1999, agricultural biotechnology research institute of Iran was established. The main purposes were to develop national grand project for agricultural biotechnology development, to improve quantity and quality of agricultural production and help to provide national food safety and security.

Meanwhile, several educational centers were established for biotechnology education. The first MSc program in biotechnology, entitled chemical & biotechnology engineering, was established by Tarbiat Modarres University followed by several other in country.

In 1994, PhD program in plant improvement, molecular genetics and genetic engineering was started in agricultural faculty of Tehran university.

The latest development was the establishment of a direct PhD program in biotechnology in 1999 in faculty of science, Tehran university.

In parallel to these activities in the field of biotechnology the national biotechnological document was ratified in 2004, underscoring the development of transgenic plants. The high council of biotechnology was composed of his Excellency president of I.R. Iran, and representatives of 8 ministries and four other experts.

The main objective of the council was to implement national biotechnological document and planning and supervising activities in the field of biotechnology. The affiliation of I.R. Iran to the Cartagena protocol on biosafety is another activity in the field of modern biotechnology.

Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran (ABRII) is one of the national agricultural research institutes under the supervision of Agricultural Research and Education Organization (AREO). The AREO is an organization of the Ministry Jihad-e Agriculture.
ABRII was established in 1983 as the Plant Biotechnology Department of Seed and Plant Improvement Institute (SPII). It was upgraded to the level of an independent institute in 1999.
ABRII's research activities are mainly focused on the field of advanced plant molecular biology and biotechnology. As a national research institute, ABRII strives to promote applied and basic research in plant science and technology and organizes workshops for advanced training of experts who are involved in R & D.

ABRII has six research departments comprising, Department of Genomics; Department of Tissue Culture and Gene Transformation; Department of Genetics, Cellular and Molecular Biology; Department of Microorganisms and Biosafety; Department of Physiology and Proteomics; and Department of Technical Services and Research Support.
Further there are three dependant regional institutes comprising the Regional Institute of Central Iran (Isfahan); the Regional Institute of West and North-West Iran (Tabriz); and the Regional Institute of North Iran (Rasht).

All biotechnology research activities of the research institutes under AREO is supervised and monitored by ABRII. Like all other national research institutes, the ABRII relies on public fund for its budget.
Scientific staff of the institute includes about 100 researchers with PhD, MSc and BSc degrees are conducting research in several area of agricultural biotechnology including :


  1. Structural and functional genomics in crop plants, insects and micro-organisms
  2. In vitro mass propagation of uniform and pathogen-free plants of different agricultural and horticultural plants.
  3.  Transferring resistance genes into agricultural and horticultural plants for enhancement of their tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses
  4. In vitro haploid and doubled haploid plant production for development of new varieties.
  5. Collection, isolation, identification and preservation (mid-term and long term) of microorganisms those are important for agricultural sector and related industries 
  6.  Production of biological products for agricultural sector and related industries such as bio-pesticides, bio-fertilizers and biological high value compounds used in food, feed and other industries 
  7.   Study of the physiological and molecular mechanisms of plant tolerance to abiotic stresses
  8. Biosafety in relation to production and trial of GMOs and their legal aspects. As well as risks in wide rang application of microorganisms and the best methods for preventing these risks.


Distinguished guests

Under ECO Agricultural Biotechnology Network, ABRII is willing to provide access to his facilities for scientists, researchers and students from regional institutes and universities to do research on national and regional important topics in field of agricultural biotechnology.

As the host institute, I hope that members of ECO agricultural Biotechnology Network in the continuation of the activities carried out, could take giant strides in consolidation this network and its effective role in agricultural biotechnology in ECO region. The Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran, as in the past, will not spare any efforts in cooperation with the network.


Thank you