3 Sep 2012

Opportunities seen for Maori agribusiness

6:34 am on 3 September 2012

The Federation of Maori Authorities, which is a major sponsor of the International Agricultural Biotechnology conference in Rotorua this week, says it's an exciting opportunity for it to grow and advance Maori agribusinesses.

The conference, which has attracted heat from anti-GE groups, began on Sunday with a public lecture by the vice president of Du Pont.

Federation chief executive Te Horipo Karaitiana says the Maori economy will grow as a result of scientific discoveries which means it's vital that the federation which represents the largest network of Maori businesses, is a key player at the conference.

Over the next three days biotechnology experts from all over New Zealand and overseas will exchange ideas and discuss technologies that can be applied to global issues such as climate change, sustainability, health, nutrition, and how to feed nine billion people in 2050.

The presence of senior management from both Du Pont and Monsanto which are global agri-business companies and leading biotechnology experts from the United States has drawn criticism from those opposed to genetically modified crops.

The Sustainability Council says the conference aims to position GM agriculture as an essential technology for addressing challenges such as poverty, food security and climate change.

In the 16 years since GM crops were first grown commercially, it says production has been limited to commodity crops.