NZ leading the way with global biotech experts

Dr Zahra Champion

Dr Zahra Champion

The New Zealand biotech sector is poised to soar this year with world leading expertise across health, fuel and food research which can help feed the world, BiotechNZ executive director Zahra Champion says. 

Dr Champion made the comments today following the announcement that the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), which is the world's largest biotech trade association, and American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) have launched Innovature

“This is an exciting new global step providing a platform to spark thoughtful dialogue around innovation in food and agriculture, with an initial focus on gene editing. BiotechNZ is a member of BIO. 

“New Zealand's laws and regulations governing genetic modification are among the most rigorous in the world. However, this should not stop the New Zealand public understanding gene editing and how it is spurring new developments in food and agriculture to address some of our most pressing societal challenges. 

“This Innovature platform will enable healthy debate, but it’s also about creating solutions between people, organisations and countries that have expertise in certain areas. 

“The word biotechnology has many meanings involving medtech, agritech, foodtech, clean tech, high tech manufacturing and biopharma. However, technology that involves the use of living organisms, in agriculture, food science, and medicine is still defined as biotechnology. 

“New Zealand has world leaders in the biotech industry. They include Dr Sean Simpson, founder of one of New Zealand’s biggest biotech companies, Lanzatech. 

“Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic has completed a flight using fuel produced by Lanzatech made from waste industrial gases. The company says the technology could cut emissions from the aviation sector by 70 per cent. 

“Auckland University academics Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble and Dr Geoff Williams and Professor Rod Dunbar with their company JanSapVax, are partnering with a US drug development company BioMotiv and they have launched a biotech start-up that will research novel cancer vaccines.  

“Otago University professor Indrawati Oey is leading a team of researchers to test edible packaging which could replace common plastic. 

“And finally, Argenta, a New Zealand animal health company, has received US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a drug aimed at a neglected parasitic disease that causes blindness in humans.  

“We hear all the time of the impacts on human, animal and environment with regards to the global issues we are facing. To find these solutions collaboration is key and New Zealand has a great track record of collaboration nationally and internationally,” Dr Champion says.

-Make Lemonade

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