8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Sep 2000  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/09/2000   
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4.1 Introduction

There is growing recognition worldwide that biotechnology offers many opportunities for delivering economic and social benefits to citizens of both developed and developing countries. However, there is currently little statistical information available to monitor the diffusion of biotechnology and to assist with policy choices.

The ABS collects some data on biotechnology research in the Research and Experimental Development (R&D) surveys. Data on expenditure on R&D and human resources devoted to R&D are available for the Fields of Research 060300 Industrial Biotechnology and Food Sciences and 080200 Genetics, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

4.2 International developments

The National Experts for Science and Technology Indicators (NESTI) group of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held an ad hoc meeting on Biotechnology Statistics in March 2000. Biotechnology Australia funded the attendance of an ABS officer.

An initial round of discussions on a range of issues concluded that there was currently:

  • no agreed definition of biotechnology,
  • very little internationally comparable data, and
  • a strong user need for better statistical information about biotechnology.

As a result of the meeting, several working groups were established. Over the next year or so, they will develop:
  • a working statistical definition of biotechnology including a list-based definition,
  • a list of indicators to meet user needs, and
  • a preliminary outline of an overall statistical framework.

4.3 Future work by the ABS

Australia has volunteered to be a member of a working group that will determine the policy issues to be addressed, establish indicators to meet these needs and establish an overall statistical framework. This will involve the ABS working closely with Biotechnology Australia and other interested parties.