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.”

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