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Wrightson looks to bio-tech field for growth

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Thursday 7th September 2000

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Listed rural stock Wrightson is hooking up with biotech company Genesis to develop products such as better-performing animal feed.

The two companies have agreed to form a long-term research and development partnership, which they say will combine Genesis's strengths in genomic discovery with Wrightson's agricultural marketing know-how.

One of the first areas to be looked at will be genomic research into pasture grasses.

The companies say independent research has already shown there is significant potential to increase productivity through better pasture quality and management, with sheep and cattle capable of gaining up to 30-40% in live weight.

Building on this type of work, Genesis and Wrightson says they will identify the genomic characteristics of grasses with desirable traits and work together to commercialise any new high animal productivity forage grasses.

"The work we plan to undertake aims to identify desirable gene traits that can be accelerated through natural breeding. There is no current plan for work on genetic modification. If a decision were taken later to engage in work in that area, it would be in accordance with the outcomes of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification," says Genesis CEO Dr Jim Watson.

Wrightson CEO, Allan Freeth, says the partnership has enormous potential because it involves co-operation between agricultural, farming and business expertise, with a leading science and technology base.

"We see biotechnology as key to the future of New Zealand agriculture. Our partnership with Genesis, along with other strategic alliances and partnerships we will develop, will make a major contribution to our ability to deliver innovative and effective solutions for our customers."

Both companies expect the alliance will be a precursor to several other collaborations concerning key plants and animals in agriculture, and will jointly own the intellectual property developed through the partnership.

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