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Biotechnology Could Lessen Effects Of Drought

LSN Media Release:

Biotechnology Could Lessen Effects Of Drought

October 9, 2002

The impact of the prolonged drought in Australia could be mitigated by the judicious use of biotechnology, said Australian Director of the Life Sciences Network Dr Wendy Craik today.

“There is an urgent need for modern solutions to this problem, and biotechnology holds the prospect of significantly lessening the effects of the Australian drought,” she said.

“While it might not hold all the answers, it is a hugely powerful tool in terms of protecting farmers against the effects of drought.

“Gene technology has the potential to produce plants that could withstand all but the harshest drought conditions,” Dr Craik said.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics released a special crop update this week, saying it expected the drought would cut Australian economic growth by 0.7 percentage point, or $5.4 billion, this fiscal year.

The present drought would have a significant impact on Australia's economic growth rate through the direct and indirect linkages between agriculture and other industries, said the bureau's executive director, Brian Fisher.

“Every effort must be made to examine all the options for Australian farmers, and the risks to the economy could be considerably allayed by the use of gene technology,” Dr Craik said.

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