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Govt Fails To Help Universities And Researchers

17 May 2002

The Government's approach to the HSNO bill is effectively depriving New Zealand's core industries such as agriculture and horticulture from advancing through biotechnology, National Biotechnology Spokesperson Paul Hutchison said today.

The Royal Commission on genetic engineering recommended that importation powers for low risk genetically modified organisms be delegated to Institutional Biological Safety Committees so that research institutes would save significant money.

Dr Hutchison has proposed an amendment to the HSNO Bill which would reduce the costs of approvals for biotechnology research but this has been rejected by the Government.

The New Zealand Vice Chancellor Committee said that 'under current systems such approvals are proceeded by ERMA at a minimum cost of $3000 to the applicant. This cost is prohibitive, creates unwarranted delays and reduces the scope and quality of many university and research outcomes'.

The Vice Chancellor's submission supported the change. 'We see no reason for deferring this decision to a later amendment in view of the obvious and unnecessary constraints it places on research, we urge the change'.

"It seems incredible that the Government says it will focus on biotechnology as part of its growth strategy yet all it has done is put up hurdles on research, and in this example they are increasing compliance costs.

"The Government's 'moratorium' is against the recommendation of the Royal Commission. The Government's further obstruction sends negative signals to our biotechnology researchers and investors.

"It is vital that New Zealand promotes research in biotechnology, particularly for the important industries of agriculture and horticulture, but this Government's actions are doing the very opposite," Dr Hutchison said.


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