Honeylab medical‐grade kanuka honey a vanguard for pharmaceutical honey industry

A medical honey developed by New Zealand researchers can not only treat a number of skin diseases, but could so help combat the global health emergency of antibiotic resistance, creating a billion dollar honey industry.

The medical‐grade kanuka honey formulation developed by Wellington and Bay of Plenty based Honeylab, along with researchers from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, are vying with manuka to be a new medical miracle and a major new earner for the Kiwi economy.

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The GMO debate continues… RNZ’s This Way Up programme on Saturday April 30 featured an interview by Simon Morton with Fusion.net’s Kristen Brown:

The US Department of Agriculture has just given the go-ahead for the first food to be produced using the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9. A white button mushroom that won’t brown as quickly as conventional fungi could appear in American consumers’ fridges soon. The decision’s re-ignited a simmering debate about the regulation, ethical implications and health impacts of genetically modified foods. Splicing genes from one species to another has usually been a fraught question for regulators, and also tougher for consumers to stomach; one well-publicised example was a tomato spliced with flounder DNA to make it more resistant to cold temperatures. But the emerging science of gene editing has shifted the discussion, as it gives scientists the ability to modify crops without introducing genes from other species simply by cutting, pasting and knocking out particular genes within a species. Meanwhile, gene editing is leaving the lab with a growing band of DIY geneticists and biohackers trying it out for themselves at home. Kristen V. Brown’s been looking at these recent developments for Fusion.net.

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Gene-edited CRISPR mushroom escapes US regulation

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will not regulate a mushroom that has been genetically modified with the gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9, the agency has confirmed. The long-awaited decision means that the mushroom can be cultivated and sold without passing through the agency’s regulatory process — making it the first CRISPR-edited organism to receive a green light from the US government.

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University of Auckland: $38m project to make NZ health care best in world

New Zealand’s patient care will be “miles ahead of anywhere else in the world” if a new multi-million dollar research project succeeds.

That’s according to Auckland UniServices chief executive, Dr Andy Shenk, talking of The Precision Driven Health research partnership – worth more than $37.8 million, involving health software leader Orion Health, the Waitemata District Health Board, which covers the largest population in New Zealand, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, the University of Auckland and its knowledge transfer company UniServices.

While the phrase “precision health” provokes images of a scalpel-wielding surgeon, it in fact represents the research partnership focused on improving the health of New Zealanders and providing them with better experiences as a patient.

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NZ Pharmaceuticals gets $49.6 mln cash injection

April 11 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures specialty chemicals, has got a $49.6 million injection from its new controlling shareholder, Australian private equity firm Archer Capital.

Last week local private equity firm Direct Capital completed the sale of its 51 percent stake in Palmerston North-based NZP for an undisclosed sum to Archer, saying it had been “very successful” for its investors. While the price wasn’t disclosed, Australian newspapers had previously reported it as being in the realm of $200 million.

Since Direct Capital first invested in 2005, the pharmaceutical products maker has invested in research and development capability, including the acquisition of Dextra Laboratories in the UK, and manufacturing facilities to expand its capacity.

Documents lodged with the Companies Office show NZP issued 6.9 million of new shares at $7 apiece on March 31, lifting the total to 36.3 million and valuing the company at $254 million. Archer entities own about 73 percent of NZP’s new holding company, Elviti Holdings, with senior management including chief executive Andy Lewis and directors Richard Garland and Barry Old.

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NZ will have to allow GM food to keep up with other countries

New Zealand will have to adopt genetic modification (GM) or it will fall behind competitors, say many biotechnologists.

Many speakers were in support of embracing GM at the Agricultural Biotech Symposium, hosted by ​NZBIO at Massey University in Palmerston North, attended by about 60 academics, political figures, company staff and researchers.

Massey University professor Peter Kemp said New Zealand could and should research GM, but it was up to bigger countries and companies to convince the world that it was okay to eat GM food.

“Let them do the heavy lifting. They sell lots of things we don’t even produce here,” he said.

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Angel funds invest over $60m in 2015

MEDIA RELEASE:  11 April 2016

Angel networks and funds invested a record $61.2 million into 94 young New Zealand companies in 2015 – a 9 percent increase on the previous record set in 2014, New Zealand Venture Investment Fund investment director Chris Twiss said today.

Releasing the latest Young Company Finance Index, Chris Twiss said New Zealand now has a strong core of investors involved in angel networks and funds which are driving the continued growth of investment into start-ups.

“The last year was noteworthy not just for the high level of investment – hitting over $60 million for the first time – but also that we are now seeing angel-backed companies successfully raising capital from overseas investors – including venture capital firms, angel groups and equity crowdfunding.

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Get off the grass ­- if it’s GM

Oh dear, our scientists have come up with a practical solution that could boost farm output while reducing the environmental impact.
Great, just what we need.
That’s something that can keep everyone happy. It’s what might be called a win-win situation.
Isn’t it?
Just hang on a minute. There’s a problem.
The solution, a new form of ryegrass called High Metabolisable Energy, involved genetic modification or engineering.
That means a kiwi scientific development that could transform agriculture and give our farmers an edge to compensate for the tyranny of distance from markets might not be approved for use here.
Just the name should have farmers pricking their ears and rubbing their hands in anticipation of getting those hands on the new grass.
But wait, as they say, there’s more.
It could boost earnings by up to $5 billion a year. It’s likely to have cost about $50 million by time it’s commercialised. That sounds like a more than acceptable return.
That’s based on modelling done so far, which has been on its use by dairy farmers.
The stuff can also be eaten by other animals.

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‘Green’ grass hits hurdle

AgResearch scientists have developed a genetically modified ryegrass that cuts greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30% but biotechnology experts warn regulations could delay its use.

Though it has several environmental benefits and could boost production it faces regulatory hurdles here because it has been genetically engineered.

The scientists have shown in the laboratory the ryegrass, called High Metabolisable Energy (HME), can reduce methane emissions from animals by 15% to 30% while modelling suggests a reduction in nitrous oxide of up to 20%.

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Seeds of change

The European Union faces a fresh battle over next-generation plant-breeding techniques.

The US plant-breeding company Cibus is proudly rolling out its first crop created with an innovative precision gene-editing technology: herbicide-tolerant oilseed rape.

The crop will be planted in the United States this spring and the firm already has authorization to cultivate it in Canada. The technology switches just a few nucleotides in a plant’s DNA; the company’s webpage points out that because it works without integrating foreign genetic material, the resulting plants cannot be stigmatized as transgenic. They will, it optimistically declares, “be globally acceptable”.

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