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Loss Of Science Jobs A Disaster For NZ

12 July 2002

The loss of 41 jobs at Horticulture Research is proof of the lack of importance the Government puts on the area of biotechnology, says Dr Paul Hutchison, National's spokesperson for Biotechnology.

"Reduced funding for science, short term planning by FORST and MORST and no real commitment despite the rhetoric are all contributing factors. This is a tragedy for New Zealand and its scientists.

"It is incomprehensible that the Government would allow this to happen in the same year that the Prime Minister said biotechnology would be one of three major areas the Government would focus on for growth.

"With the heightened interest in the GE debate, this is a time when the Government should be increasing New Zealand's capability in the area of biotechnology. Failure to detect the Bee Varroa Mite was partly due to a lack of scientific expertise in that area. The same could easily happen with a greater, ongoing problem.

"The Government's rhetoric doesn't fit with its actions as the jobs axed include the key areas of :
* Plant biotechnology
* Gene biotechnology
* Fruit quality

"It is unbelievable that Helen Clark and Pete Hodgson would allow the axing of all too rare science jobs in these critical areas of biotechnology.

"New Zealand is well behind in both private and public spending and capability in science, and if this Government was really interested in the knowledge economy, it would not be putting scientific research at risk," says Dr Hutchison.


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