A new BioTechNZ report has revealed that biotechnology is quietly having a major impact on everyday life without most Kiwis realising.
The landmark study analysed the state of biotech and its impact and benefits for the New Zealand economy and society.
BioTechNZ is a member of the NZTech Alliance which brings together organisations from across the diverse New Zealand tech ecosystem. The alliance represents 20 associations and over 1000 organisations that collectively employ more than 100,000 Kiwis who provide the voice of a tech ecosystem.
NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says biotechnology is being applied in New Zealand to reduce waste, create vaccines, create healthier food and more efficient crops.
“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 a biotechnology process.”
Biotechnology is also aiding obesity and the environment. As obesity rates climb to epidemic levels, biotech is helping to create a new generation of healthier plant-based oils. These oils are free from trans fats that can raise cholesterol and contribute to heart disease. Environmentally, a process called bioremediation uses microorganisms to reduce, eliminate, or contain contaminants in the soil or other environments.
“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,” says Muller.
He adds that biotechnology will bring better health and treatments for disease 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.”