Cell-based agriculture – biotech summit to discuss the future of clean food

New Zealand produces enough food to feed 40 million people worldwide – almost 10 times its own population, but the way this food is produced, says BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion.

The world cannot feed its children’s children with the food systems currently in use, she says.

In the next 25 years, all the additional food the global growing population requires will come from improvements to current food systems, before they reach capacity limits.

But BioTechNZ and AgriTechNZ are leading an event in Palmerston North on August 4 to discuss cell-based agriculture which can create products from cell cultures as opposed to whole plants or animals. Continue reading

Call for urgent widening of NZ debate and action on gene editing

New Zealand urgently needs to debate and action on gene editing, with the aim of boosting New Zealand’s bioeconomy, a BioTechNZ survey report says.

There is global interest in biotechnology as a means of altering biological processes to improve human health, food production and environmental sustainability the new report says.

Increasing demand for food, shortages of natural resources and water and environmental concerns have been driving the growth of biotech in agriculture.

The report says:

“Any new technology must be trialled and understood by the public, before providing mainstream benefit. To avoid polarisation of perspectives in New Zealand, open public debate is recommended, with the government ensuring the public have access to the facts.

“Our research has identified a number of barriers that need to be overcome to enable the growth of the New Zealand biotechnology market.

“These constraints include access to capital and access to skills and talent. The current regulatory framework governing genetic modified organisms (GMO) is also a major barrier to growth for the New Zealand biotechnology sector.”

The global biotech market is forecast to be worth $US729 billion by 2025. New Zealand is positioned well: ranked fourth in the world for innovation potential in biotech. Continue reading

Biotech chief says gene editing has a role to play in reducing emissions

Gene editing has a crucial role to play in reducing emissions to deal with climate change, BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion says.

The issues and benefits of gene editing must accelerate discussions by the biotech industry and academic researchers to convince the public that gene editing of crops is pivotal in helping climate change, she says.

Dr Champion says New Zealand is not going to reach its climate change emissions target through existing technologies alone. Continue reading

New Zealand is urged to adopt a biotech strategy

New Zealand urgently needs a biotech strategy because it is critical to the future of the country’s economy, BiotechNZ executive director Zahra Champion says.

The global biotechnology market is expected to reach more than $US727 billion within six years, according to a new report by Grand View Research in San Francisco.

Dr Champion says New Zealand once had – but now does not – a biotech strategy.

“Our government must understand that biotech is vital to the future of our economy. Last week many Kiwi agritech and biotech-related companies featured at a massive international agritech-biotech conference in Melbourne.

“AgritechNZ wants to strategically reposition and restructure the direction for New Zealand to build a world class agritech ecosystem. Many of the new technologies in agriculture are from our BiotechNZ group.

“These include companies like A2 Corporation which has developed systems which has improved protein in Anchor milk. AgResearch in Lincoln is producing grass that grows 50 per cent faster and more resistant to drought.

“Look at the work Indigo has developed that will significantly reduce emissions from agriculture by increasing pasture fed milk and meat production. We need to nurture more companies like that.

“Biotech is a high-value sector which relies on leading science, innovation and manufacturing. It is a sector that is protected by intellectual property rights, strict regulatory guidelines and a highly-skilled workforce. It is one of the few manufacturing sectors that can’t be easily eroded by lower cost economies.   

“There are compelling reasons why biotech should be snapped up by a positive new government policy after years of New Zealand lacking a clear national strategy.

“We need to consider many animal, human and environmental health pressures and reduce and generate value from waste. For a country so reliant on the primary export sector, we need to build a world class biotech-agritech ecosystem.

“We don’t want to fall behind. Look at the Investment Corporation of Dubai which has just put $US203 million into agritech investments and another $200 million from Japanese firm Softbank which is one of the world’s largest firms.

“New Zealand’s agricultural, environmental and economic future will rely on the success of our biotech sector which needs more focus from government. It is time for a more strategic, all of government approach and a shared national strategy,” Dr Champion says.

Source:  Make Lemonade 

  • Make Lemonade writes news releases to attract mainstream media attention. It promotes news of benefit to the New Zealand public and only supports organisations, people and companies that positively impact our community.