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CSIRO: Reduction in Biotechnology Predicted

by 5m Editor
29 October 2008, at 9:42a.m.

AUSTRALIA - Australia’s CSIRO Livestock Industries and its partner, New Zealand’s principal pastoral food research institute, AgResearch, have predicted the global financial crisis could significantly reduce investment in biotechnology and agricultural science.

On the opening day of their joint three-day Horizons in Livestock Sciences Conference in Christchurch, AgResearch's General Manager of Applied Technologies, Dr Jimmy Suttie, said there is likely to be a reduction in investment in the biotechnology market.

"The international financial crisis means there is a low appetite for risk and less likelihood of investment in areas such as animal biotechnology,” he said. “However, this investment is important for the future of the Trans-Tasman livestock sectors.

"Additionally, if farmers face a downturn it becomes an instant issue for AgResearch and CSIRO. As tougher economic times develop, farmers will want increasing real value from what's delivered by the sector levies they pay."

“Both organisations receive significant funding from sector levies and should this decrease we would face financial repercussions," Dr Suttie said.

CSIRO Livestock Industries Chief, Dr Alan Bell, said extent of the impact the financial crisis will have on national science budgets in Australia and New Zealand can not be predicted.

"The situation is gloomy and all bets regarding the future are off," he said.

"Both Australia and New Zealand are affected by export markets and how the international financial crisis affects other national economies. The next couple of years could be pretty tough."

Dr Bell said one of the biggest issues facing Australian animal agriculture is the public perception of its environmental footprint – in particular greenhouse gas emissions and the impact Australia’s proposed emissions trading scheme could have on its future.