NBR: ROSIE BOSWORTH on why New Zealand is becoming the Detroit of agriculture

Sunday Business ANdrew PAtterson .jpg

In a recent interview with NBR I recently talked to Andrew Paterson about the Future of Agriculture for New Zealand and the impact technology and synthetic biology will have on our sector... The except from the interview and website is pasted below - and you can listen to the podcast here

/// New Zealand needs to pay more attention to how science is revolutionising the agriculture industry or it will end up as the “Detroit of agriculture.”

This is according to Dr Rosie Bosworth, who joins Andrew Patterson on this week’s episode of Sunday Business.

“Agriculture is inherently unsustainable; it’s a huge sucker of water and resources,” she says.  

“It’s highly greenhouse gas intensive and it’s not really able to scale to the huge population growth that’s going to happen by 2050.”

She says New Zealand could be in for a shock, given how quickly agricultural technology is developing.

The number of biotech companies producing products such as beef, eggs, pork and milk in a lab has been on the rise, with the cost of production plummeting in the last half decade.

Many scientists expect “animal” products grown in a lab for human consumption will continue to grow in popularity.

This is a problem for New Zealand, Dr Bosworth says.

“It is really akin to what happened in Detroit with the car manufacturing where they just did not see other players coming into the market from the outside that could really rattle their cages.”

The primary industry contributes more than $22 billion to New Zealand’s economy each year, which is 10% of the country’s total GDP, according to figures from the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Despite the risks lab-grown agriculture products pose to the economy, Dr Bosworth says as a country New Zealand is extremely complacent about what’s going on – “our heads are in the sand.”

“It’s not as if I’m looking at this as ‘agriculture, you have really screwed up, I don’t like the ethics involved,’ I’m just looking at the whole picture,” she says.

“If we look at the costs involved when cellular agriculture is scaled and it gets to the point where it is the same price as New Zealand commodities, it is a dubious position for our country to be in – how can a commodity compete when such innovation hits the market at scale?”

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