17 Jun 2010

Lobby group questions gene work on clover

6:51 am on 17 June 2010

An anti-GE lobby group is questioning whether Agresearch is ignoring existing research in its work on clover.

Agresearch says it has identified a gene it can use to improve white clover to increase farm productivity and reduce methane emissions.

GE Free New Zealand believes research done over the past 30 years has already idenitified productivity gains and a cut in greenhouse gas emissions in conventional types of forage.

President Claire Bleakley says Agresearch is wasting its time and money on this gene research.

But Agresearch says the work it is doing is ground-breaking.

Dr Jimmy Suttie says they are developing clover that contains concentrations of tannin, which currently exists only in trace amongst in forage plants which are not suitable for grazing pasture.

Massey University pastoral agriculture professor, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, also says Agresearch is tackling new and important ground.

Agresearch estimates it will take at least 15 years to commercially release the new clover.