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Dairy Industry Probes Bio-Tech Potential

The Dairy Board is to sharply increase its research funding in order to investigate the potential of biotechnology, a move its chairman John Storey says is imperative to ensure his industry stays abreast with developments in this field.

He said the industry would commit an additional $30 million annually over a five-year period to research biotechnology.“

“Our competitors are making large investments in this area and we need to ensure we keep abreast of the science involved,” Mr Storey said.

He said that while New Zealand dairy farmers had the lowest production costs in the world, biotechnology was seen in other countries as providing the means to close the gap.

“We let that happen at our peril.”

“The industry’s studies show the potential returns from research in the bio-tech field are very significant. But it is important to appreciate that this is a long-term project. It will be at least five years before we can expect to see new products or processes emerging from this programme.

He emphasised that the dairy industry would always be acutely sensitive to consumer perceptions and of the importance of maintaining the confidence of its customers.

“Research has always been given high priority in the dairy industry and has been crucial in maintaining our international competitiveness. The industry is already New Zealand’s largest private sector investor in R & D and its future success will be to a great extent dependent on the continuation of that policy,” Mr Storey said.

Mr Storey said the development was very much in line with Government’s drive to build knowledge-based industries and that not the least of the benefits from the initiative would be to attract back to this country New Zealand scientists now working abroad.

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