5 Apr 2014

Uni may need to sell expertise offshore

3:24 pm on 5 April 2014

The vice-chancellor of Lincoln University says if its scientists can't get funding from the Government they will be forced to work for other governments on biosecurity problems.

The Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University is losing more than a third of its $10 million a year budget.

Lincoln University.

Lincoln University. Photo: PHOTO NZ (file)

Vice-chancellor Andrew West told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme that this cut will hit what he calls "deep science" that affects things such as the fruit fly biosecurity breach.

He says they will have to look elsewhere for research contracts, probably with governments in Asia which are prepared to purchase the work of New Zealand biosecurity scientists.

Fruit growers say that the latest fruit fly discovery is exactly why the Government shouldn't be cutting funding for biosecurity research.

A commercial horticulturist, Bay of Plenty orchardist Chris Dunn, says decisions such as this are an example of the Government trying to give up responsibility for biosecurity.

Mr Dunn says that until now good biosecurity research has saved New Zealand's international reputation as a quality food producer.

The research centre was told three weeks ago that it will no longer receive government funding. The last grant of $20 million was due to last until the end of 2015.

Research centre director Travis Glare said the cut will impact long-term research projects on potential biosecurity threats to New Zealand's agricultural, horticultural and forestry industries.

Labour's Innovation, Research and Development spokesperson, Megan Woods, said if the centre is forced to take up research contracts from other governments it could result in studies which have no relevance to this country.