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Ditch The Therapy Says Wrightson Chief

Wrightson Chief Executive Allan Freeth has challenged those pessimistic about New Zealand’s farming future in an e-commerce world to ‘ditch the therapy’.

Speaking at the annual Lincoln University dinner, at the start of the WRIGHTSON AGMARDT Young Farmer Contest Grand Final, Dr Freeth said he acknowledged the importance and opportunity of e-commerce, but there was a preoccupation by some observers with e-businesses which lacked business fundamentals. Whereas agriculture, with very strong fundamentals, had been consigned by some to the ‘therapists couch.’

“The knowledge economy that New Zealand is part of actually has its heart in the country’s primary industries. Some observers have confused the shift in agriculture, from commodities to value-added strategies, with an outright rejection of the sector.”

Dr Freeth said Wrightson rejected the confusion. Wrightson’s strategy had been to build from traditional businesses, the ingredients and intellectual property to deliver future-focussed solutions to customers which they were doing now in wool and seeds.

He said New Zealand has the ability to use the same approach to build its knowledge economy from its backbone of food, fibre and bio-related industries. But to do so would require leadership and the courage to take a stand on controversial issues such as new technologies and biotechnology.

“Leadership is needed to deal honestly and directly with the opportunities, and threats, presented by new and sometimes frightening technology.”

He outlined Wrightson’s general approach to biotechnology as an example, saying his company believed appropriate and safe biotechnology would be of fundamental importance to the future for farmers and New Zealand agriculture - as it had been for decades.

Dr Freeth said Wrightson supported the Royal Commission process and had pledged to support the voluntary moratorium. However he said biotechnology was about much more than genetically modified organisms.

“Biotechnology is a tool to help us understand the plants and animals with which we share the world. By doing so, we can improve and enhance our methods of agriculture and potentially contribute to the economy of the nation in ways that would make the ‘dot.com’ revolution look modest.”

Dr Freeth said although Wrightson’s traditional areas of laboratory research and plant and animal productivity continued, the company would always be guided by laws and regulations, ethical considerations and the social acceptance of the products of any biotechnology research or application.

“There is a lot at stake. To face up to opportunities like biotechnology and e-commerce will require leadership. Wrightson is determined to continue to play its part.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact: Josie Swan 025-230-5858


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