Biotech is improving everyday life without most Kiwis realising, according to a new BioTechNZ research report.
The landmark BioTechNZ study analysed the state of biotechnology and its impact and benefits for the New Zealand economy and society.
BioTechNZ is a member of the NZTech Alliance, which brings together 20 technology associations with more than 1500 member organisations who employ more than 10 percent of the workforce, who are working to help create a more prosperous New Zealand underpinned by technology.
NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says the report, due for public release this month, captures the major impact that biotechnology is quietly having on all Kiwis.
“Biotechnology is being applied in New Zealand to reduce waste, create vaccines, develop healthier food and more efficient crops,” said Muller.
“One of New Zealand’s largest companies used biotechnology to develop milk with the A2 protein only, to help people who have trouble drinking regular cow’s milk.
“Another growing New Zealand success story is a company that uses biotechnology processes to extract gold and other precious metals from electronic waste.
“While Kiwi families are concerned about the enormous use of petroleum products for energy, new plastics are coming into the home, made with corn and other plants, not petroleum, via biotechnology processes.
“Biotechnology is also being applied in more direct ways to environmental clean-up. A process called bioremediation uses microorganisms to reduce, eliminate, or contain contaminants in the soil or other environments.
“As obesity rates climb to epidemic levels, biotechnology is helping to create a new generation of healthier plant-based oils. These oils are free of trans fats that can raise cholesterol and contribute to heart disease."
Soybeans, corn, cotton and canola have been enhanced to resist insects, herbicides and drought conditions, allowing farmers to increase productivity.
“New Zealand scientists have developed grasses that reduce methane emissions from livestock, which will help reduce greenhouse gases.
“Tomorrow, biotechnology will bring better health and treatments for diseases that will produce all kinds of medical products for New Zealanders.
“There are a growing number of global opportunities for biotech and New Zealand’s strengths allow scientists and companies to identify global niche opportunities, particularly in the animal sciences, horticulture, marine and biomedical industries.”