Minister Welcomes Ibac Members

  • Maurice Williamson
Research, Science and Technology

Members of the new Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council (IBAC) met for the first time today and were welcomed by Research, Science and Technology Minister Maurice Williamson.

"Biotechnology has become extremely important to New Zealand and I'm pleased we've been able to attract such a high calibre of people to inform the public about biotechnology and give us advice on their findings," said Mr Williamson.

The 10 IBAC members, who were drawn from a range of backgrounds, met today in Wellington to plan their upcoming work programme.

IBAC convenor, Professor Peter Gluckman, said the members came with no preconceived views and we're determined to explore issues in a logical, ethical and apolitical manner.

"Every technology humankind has ever developed has had both upsides and downsides," said Professor Gluckman.

"Our responsibility is to give leadership to New Zealand's consideration of this set of technologies and balance the risks and benefits, and ensure New Zealand advances environmentally, socially and economically."

Mr Williamson said biotechnology was an area where the Government was already making large investments through publicly funded research and an area that presented huge opportunities for new and improved products.

"But we recognise it's an area where we must tread very carefully. The Government is serious about enhancing public debate and awareness of biotechnology, with safety being our number one priority, " said Mr Williamson.

"We also recognise the need to avoid New Zealand becoming a scientific backwater and believe the establishment of IBAC will address all the necessary issues," said Mr Williamson.