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Grants fail to compensate for lost research

Dr Paul Hutchison National Science Spokesman

24 April 2004

Biotech grants fail to compensate for lost research

The Government's $10 million biotechnology grants fail to compensate for the tens of millions of research dollars the Government has recently lost overseas, says National's Science spokesman Dr Paul Hutchison.

The Government's announcement comes on the same day it was revealed that an Auckland University trial into Huntington's disease is moving to Australia because getting approval to do the work in New Zealand is too costly and would take too long.

Dr Hutchison says that on one hand the Government says biotechnology should be one of the major drivers of economic growth, but on the other they insist on legislation, like the Hazardous Substances & New Organisms Act, which is so complicated and costly that it is cheaper to do research overseas.

In May, Pfizer cancelled a $60 million research contract amid accusations that the Government would not engage in constructive dialogue with the bio-pharmaceutical industry. AgResearch has been hugely frustrated by having to pay more than $500,000 on two occasions just to get permission to carry out genomic research in New Zealand.

Dr Hutchison says Labour has ignored its own biotechnology taskforce recommendation to change the HSNO Act.

"The HSNO Act must be reviewed before research can thrive in New Zealand.

"It is vital that we have a biotechnology research environment that attracts top scientists, rather than sending them and research opportunities overseas", says Dr Hutchison

ENDS

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