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Govt stifling potential of biological revolution

Gavan Herlihy


National Agriculture Spokesman

20 July 2000

Government stifling potential of biological revolution

Opposition Agriculture Spokesman Gavan Herlihy says the Government is frustrating the agriculture sector's ability to embrace and benefit from the 'knowledge economy'.

"Biotechnology a significant thread of the 'knowledge economy' which opens the pathway to a new era of profitability for New Zealand farmers," Mr Herlihy told the 53rd AGCARM Conference in Wellington.

"The biological revolution, assisted by the information revolution, will enable the production of a whole new range of enhanced products from our livestock base.

"But New Zealand's ability to precipitate the biological revolution is in danger of being stifled by the Government. It is a tragedy that already our Crown Research Institutes are losing some of their top biotechnology scientists and geneticists overseas as they perceive their skills are not wanted in New Zealand. These are just the sort of people on whom New Zealand's future depends. The Government is giving them a very confused message at the moment in order to shore up support from the Greens.

"The agriculture sector will lead the nation's push into the 'knowledge economy' in the 21st Century. Our nation's wealth is built on its agriculture and will remain so in the foreseeable future, a fact that, at times, seems to escape bureaucrats in Treasury and politicians in the Beehive.

"If the Government keeps on treating agriculture as a 'sunset industry', the nights are going to get long and cold for all New Zealanders. We can be at the forefront, leading the world. But that requires the right support and the right political environment.

"At the moment that isn't forthcoming", Gavan Herlihy says.

Ends


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