August 20, 2002
A major strategy statement
designed to ensure Australia becomes a stronger global
competitor in the
field of biotechnological research and development was launched
by the CSIRO today at the
AusBiotech2002 Conference in Melbourne.
CSIRO's mission centres on achieving growth in the area by
facilitating large-scale collaborative ventures in partnership
with industry and other research agencies.
Launching the document, the Deputy Chair of CSIRO's
Biotechnology Strategy Team, Professor Richard Head, said
Australia's biotechnology R & D sector was in a prime position
to take advantage of its already high international standing.
"There are many areas of biotechnology where Australia can be a
world player because of its expertise, but we need to be smart
about selecting the right niches and partners," Professor Head
"The development of a strategy encompassing CSIRO's entire
biotechnology R&D domain is a first for the Organisation.
"This strategy will bring a stronger focus to CSIRO
biotechnology capabilities and strengthen its capacity to
deliver solutions across industry sectors," he said.
The strategy document provides a broad overview of CSIRO's
vision and objectives.
"Our vision for Australia is to use biotechnologies to deliver:
improvements in our health and wellbeing;
safer and more globally competitive food systems; prosperity
through more jobs and new industry
developments; and, a more sustainable environment," it says.
"Our mission is to help Australia become a stronger global
competitor in the 21st century through the
rapid adoption and use of biotechnologies."
Professor Head said community concerns about the possible longer
term effects of biotechnological R&D had been taken into
"CSIRO is very aware of public unease about biotechnology," he
"We aim to provide fair and objective information to the public
about what we are doing and why and, in
particular, how we are acting ethically and responsibly in the
interests of the Australian community.
"This is a powerful technology and there are still uncertainties
in its use. We will be paying great
attention to assessing risks and impacts and managing them
responsibly," Professor Head said.
CSIRO currently spends about $112 million on biotechnology
research. This is 29 percent of the Australian
Government investment in biotechnology R&D, and about 12 percent
of CSIRO's total budget. New
investments in bioinformatics, structural biology and robotics,
totalling $3.6 million, are being made to
position CSIRO more strongly in emerging areas of biotechnology
CSIRO biotechnology research spreads over 12 Divisions. Projects
include crop improvements, livestock health, pest animal
control, vaccine development, medical treatments and assessment
of environmental impacts.
To accompany the Strategy, CSIRO has developed BioActivities, an
interactive presentation of CSIRO's research on a CD-ROM and the
Internet that illustrates the many different applications of
biotechnology that CSIRO research is delivering.