Government has Critical Role in Funding Biotech Research

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

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.

“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,” commented Champion.

“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.”

Champion went on to explain that 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,” she continued.

“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 said the three big areas of biotech research are human health, environmental/industrial and agriculture.

“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 that could significantly contribute to the economic growth and environmental and social prosperity of Aotearoa if this technology were 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,” Champion concluded.

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