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  • Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 16 November 2007 Referencing Hub media

    New Zealand biotechnology is a developing, world-class industry. Find out more about the exciting work being done, and the diversity of different projects in this third of a 4-part series produced by NZBio.

    See below for links to the other videos in this series:

    This clip was produced in conjunction with NZBio.



    Biotechnology will benefit many of New Zealand’s established industries, ensuring farming, food and agricultural businesses remain internationally competitive. AgResearch is developing a high-premium product from milk that aims to prevent oral thrush.

    Liz Carpenter (AgResearch)

    What we’d like to do is make a milk product that has antibodies in it against this organism. We kill the Candida albicans and we’ve immunised cows with it. The cows start to make milk and we can take that milk, process the milk and produce a product that now has these antibodies that we can deliver – perhaps through a mouthwash, a chewing gum, a lozenge.


    And AgVax has created a vaccine which can increase sheep fertility and another vaccine to control toxoplasmosis, which causes death in unborn lambs.

    Robert Dempster (AgVax)

    The important thing is, of course, that the animals are fully immune before they become pregnant. So even though the major risk of abortion is in the third trimester of pregnancy, you really want them to be immune throughout the whole of pregnancy, so that if there is a risk of an early abortion, or slipping a lamb, or re-absorption of the foetus, the animal will be fully protected against all those risks.


    Scientists are improving pasture to enhance dairy, sheep and beef productivity. Biotechnology is also contributing to environmental sustainability; helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and providing cleaner industrial processes.

    George Slim (MoRST)

    In the future, I think biotechnology will continue to grow in the area of industrial applications, so replacing some of the products we currently get from petroleum products; processing using living systems rather than chemical systems – which will have tremendous benefits in terms of energy costs.


    It could provide a biological control for pest species, such as possums, which destroy native forests, eat endangered bird life and spread TB to livestock.

    Doug Eckery AgResearch

    There aren’t any natural predators or enemies to possums in New Zealand, so we’re having to create something which will act in the same capacity. There are viruses and some other organisms that do infect possums, but none of them have the virulence (they are not powerful enough) to actually kill the possum and control them in that sense. And so we’re looking at nematodes, more as a vector to use to spread a biological control through the population.


    These are all examples of how the biotechnology industry is helping New Zealand improve on the past and become an even greater place to live.

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