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Govt has critical role in funding biotechnology research

Government has a critical role in funding biotechnology research for the benefit of all Kiwis, BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion says.

Governments worldwide should invest in gene editing research to ensure there is equitable access for farmers to new technologies and avoid only having the large multinationals innovating in this market, she says.

“We would like to see greater government support for genetic research and this type of technology, with studies carried out by crown research institutes and universities in conjunction with our New Zealand companies.

“If New Zealand wants to reach its goals to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, except biogenic methane, to zero by 2050, we must do something different.

“Gene editing technology is one tool that can potentially increase crop yields and quality, plant drought-resistance, improved food safety and security, improve product shelf life and higher nutritional value. 

“Private investment is important for the research industries, but it needs to be balanced with government investment to benefit everyone in Aotearoa.

“Scientific research is essential to solving major problems that affect millions of people, such as global warming, disease, poverty, and inequality.

“Science plays a role in our daily lives and in our collective future.  Biotechnology is a science-driven industry sector that makes use of living organisms.”

Dr Champion says the three big areas of biotech research are human health, environmental / industrial and agriculture.

Cutting edge biotech is accepted in human medicine, where the global population accepts vaccines, treatments and therapies, she says.  In New Zealand over the past year a new revolutionary Biotechnology approach has been used to fighting cancer.  

This work has been coming out of Wellington’s Malaghan Institute of Medical Research which means new hope for cancer patients, she says. 

“In conservation, genetically engineered solutions are needed to reach our ambitious pest-free targets to protect our flora and fauna.

“There are many genetically modified innovations on farms globally which could significantly contribute to economic growth and environmental and social prosperity of Aotearoa if this technology was available. 

“We need the government to review gene technologies in New Zealand as the last time was the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification held in 2001.

“The field of genome science has advanced dramatically since then, especially the ability to work with genomes in a very precise way.”

For further information contact Dr Champion on 021 899732 or Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

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