No. 338, 19.5.2009 S amuel S . M . S un 辛世文 1 農業生物技術國家重點實驗室（香港中文大學）成 立後，有甚麼大計？ What are the plans for the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)? 我們希望透過這平台，推行更配合中國內地需要的研究。 中文大學與深圳華大基因研究院合作，成立了「中 • 華 • 基 因組研究中心」，我們通過這中心，開展世界首創的「大豆 回家」項目。大豆五千年前源於中國，外傳後經西方國家 多番改良、育種，好些在受控制的種植環境下不需要的如 抗旱、耐寒等基因，在育種過程中已遭剔除。現在我們嘗 試從野生大豆的基因結構中，找回失落的基因，還原大豆 原有特性，希望令中國重奪生產優質大豆的優勢。 此外，由比爾及梅琳達蓋茨基金會資助的黃金水稻研究會 繼續發展，致力提高水稻營養，加入蛋白質、維他命E、鋅 及鐵等，期望第一批產品在2010年面世。 We hope the laboratory can serve as a platform for research that meets the needs of the Chinese community. In collaboration with Beijing Genomics Institute, Shenzhen (BGI), CUHK established the CUHK–BGI Genome Research Centre and launched the world’s first Soyabean Homecoming Project. Originating in China 5,000 years ago, the soyabean was exported to the West. After a long history of breeding and domestication, some genes which were unnecessary under a controlled growing environment such as those for cold-tolerance and drought-resistance were sifted out. However, the lost genes can still be found in wild species. The project is aimed at restoring the characteristics of soyabean by reinstating the selected original genes. The ultimate goal is to make China regain the leading role of soyabean production in the world. The Golden Rice Project supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also on track. This project aims at enhancing the nutritive value of rice by introducing protein, vitamin E, zinc and iron into the new species. The first batch is expected to be launched in 2010. 2 環境、氣候、糧產三者息息相關，糧產短缺的警號 已在全球響起，作為科學家或普通人，我們當前可 以做些甚麼？ Environment, climate and crop yield are interrelated. What should a scientist or anyone do to alleviate food shortage? 無論是否科學家，同樣要齊心保護地球的天然資源以及生 物多樣性，避免污染，小如減少用膠袋、大至減少砍伐熱 帶雨林，都應留意。富裕國家可投放資源，研究改善食物 生產，貧國在這方面舉步維艱，我希望強國可將技術傳給 落後國家，讓他們有能力自行生產足夠糧食；這是授人以 魚，不如授人以漁的道理。 Everyone has the responsibility to protect our natural resources and the biodiversity of nature. We can refrain from using too much plastic bags as well as felling tropical rainforests. Wealthy nations are capable of investing more to improve the crop yield. I hope they can help poor nations by passing on advanced technological knowledge to them. As the saying goes, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for lifetime’. 3 有人認為基因改造食物是糧荒的救星，亦有人甚為 保留，怎樣可以加深市民的認識？ Some say genetically modified food is the solution to food shortage, while others have reservations. How can the public learn more about it? 基因改造食物是嶄新事物，公眾的恐懼源於未了解。過往 以配種方式改進農作物，現時則用轉換基因的方法，其實 都是透過基因調動的原理，增加產量。由於傳統方法的增 產量已到上限，而人口仍不斷增加，故要開發新技術。公 眾教育很重要，過往我常為公眾及學生開辦講座，現時中 學課程已涵蓋這課題。基因食物在1996年開始投入美國 市場，迄今並沒任何報告謂安全性有問題。假以時日，相 信大家會逐漸接受。 Genetically modified food is a brand new product. The public has reservations because they know nothing about it. Fear comes from ignorance. In fact, both traditional and biotechnological methods increase crop yield by altering genes, but the former works by breeding and the latter by gene transference. However the traditional method has reached its maximum capacity while the population continues to grow. So it is imperative that a new technology be developed to increase the yield. Education is essential for removing doubts, so I always give talks to the public and to students. The secondary school curriculum covers this topic too. Genetically modified food was launched in the US market in 1996. There is no report of a single safety problem to date. I firmly believe that time will reveal all. 4 科研的路多是孤寂的，你同意嗎？ Do you agree that the path of a scientist is lonely? 我很認同，亦有切身經驗。科研是長期的工作，涉及高新 科技，即使家人也未必理解，所以倍感孤獨。猶記得在七 十年代到美國威斯康星大學任博士後研究員，專研那時 被視為不可能的植物基因複製，沒有專用儀器，唯有借用 遺傳學系的器材，在深宵或周末周日才能使用，很有寄人 籬下的感覺。當地不時下雪，我獨在地窖的實驗室工作十 六七小時，天天如是，深宵人靜，月冷星淒，極目窗外，盡 是白濛濛的雪地，夜半獨自走路回家時，寒風蕭索，雙腿 冷得不斷顫抖，那份寂寥格外強烈。 科研的路並不好走，必須以興趣不斷燃點熱誠，想到研究 是為人類的整體福祉，就不會計較失敗及挫折。基於這信 念，我日以繼夜反覆試驗，當成功複製植物基因時，開心 得整個人跳起來，那種感覺非筆墨可形容。 I agree completely. I experienced it first hand. Conducting scientific research requires long-term devotion. You have to bury yourself in research and no one, not even your family, understands what you are doing. In the ’70s, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Wisconsin-Madison and investigated the feasibility of plant cloning, which was regarded as an impossible task. As this was a brand new research area, we didn’t have advanced equipment so I had to do research in the laboratory of other departments. In other words, I could only go there when their staff was off or on the weekends. There’s heavy snow in Wisconsin. I always worked for 16 to 17 hours in the basement laboratory. When I looked out of the window at midnight, I found nothing, only snow fields, scattered stars and the moon. Accompanying me home every night was the strong wind which made me tremble. I felt deeply lonely. The path of a scientist is not easy. A scientist’s passion should be fuelled by his interest. When I remind myself that my goal is the well-being of mankind, I can overcome any failure and hurdles. I remember jumping for joy whenever I made a breakthrough. It’s a happiness beyond words. 5 善衡書院希望給同學一個「家」的培育環境，如何 為學生建立這個「家」？ The ultimate vision of S.H. Ho College is to provide a ‘home’ for students. How would you build this ‘home’? 一個家不只是一個住處，還要有關懷、歸屬感和安全感。 我希望書院同事真誠關懷學生，處處為他們的學習、生活 及前途着想，與學生慢慢建立如家人般的互信互愛關係， 讓學生感到書院是他們的第二個家，而全宿共膳正提供這 樣的相處機會。 A home is not only a house, but also a place that’s filled with love, a sense of belonging and safety. I hope the College staff will care about the students and create a homely learning environment that will make them feel at home. Being a fully residential college with communal dining basis will help to achieve this goal. 辛世文教授1996年回歸母校出任中大生物學講座教授及系主任，現為農業生物技術 國家重點實驗室（香港中文大學）主任，並於2006年起任善衡書院候任院長。 Prof. Samuel S.M. Sun, Professor of Biology, returned to CUHK, his alma mater, to chair its Biology Department in 1996. He is also the director of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK). In 2006, he was appointed the Master-Designate of S.H. Ho College.