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First Biotechnology Statistics Released

Modern Biotechnology Activity in New Zealand: Year ended June 1999

Statistics New Zealand today released the report Modern Biotechnology Activity in New Zealand. This is the first set of New Zealand statistics on modern biotechnology activity. The report analyses the results of a survey of 180 businesses and research institutions involved in modern biotechnology activity in the year ended June 1999. Statistics New Zealand is the fourth country in the OECD to produce statistics on modern biotechnology.

Modern biotechnology involves the application of modern scientific techniques to biological materials and processes. In New Zealand, modern biotechnology covers a range of activities, including the use of: the chemistry of DNA in health research and development of new varieties of trees and plants antibodies and enzymes in the development of vaccines biological material for pollution control biological materials in diagnostic testing in the provision of health services and the manufacture of food products. Traditional biotechnology processes, such as fermentation (eg beer brewing and bread making) and the use of oxidation ponds to treat sewage, were excluded from the survey coverage.

The results of the survey indicate the development of modern biotechnology in New Zealand is at an early stage. The majority of modern processes are used in research and development by enterprises. The primary focus is the development of new products and processes, or the adaptation of existing products and processes to suit New Zealand conditions.

The value of income associated with modern biotechnology is estimated to be $475 million in the year ended June 1999. The value of expenditure is estimated to be $405 million. To give some sense of the relative size of the modern biotechnology activity, the total income of the furniture manufacturing industry is $938 million. Total income from all manufacturing activity in 1999 is estimated to be $50.4 billion.

Enterprises in the survey reported employing 2,727 employees in activities associated with modern biotechnology. This represents 0.2 percent of total employment. Approximately 40 percent of those employed have post-graduate qualifications.

The period covered by the survey predates the voluntary moratorium on new trials of genetically modified products which started on 14 June 2000.

A copy of the report Modern Biotechnology Activity in New Zealand is available on the Statistics New Zealand website (, or on request from Statistics New Zealand.



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