Israeli scientist Elisha Gootwine says Invermay is a world
leader when it comes to agriculture research. Photo by
A visiting Israeli scientist says Invermay's facilities
are the envy of researchers around the world and he was shocked
to hear of plans to slash jobs there.
Elisha Gootwine, who works for the Israeli Government-run
Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research as a sheep
geneticist and reproductive physiologist, said Invermay had
the ''best set-up'' he had seen for sheep research.
''They have everything that a scientist could dream about, in
terms of genomics, reproduction and meat science. Not only
for sheep, but also for deer,'' Dr Gootwine said.
He was envious of the Invermay facilities and shocked to hear
of plans to cut about 80 jobs and move them north to Lincoln.
Based on similar changes made in Israel, he said it would be
very difficult to replace any scientists who decided not to
make the move north.
''The important thing in science is the people. If you want
to make good science, you need to keep the scientists,'' he
He had visited Invermay as part of a sabbatical 20 years ago
and noted the number of staff had shrunk since then.
He believed more staff should be based at Invermay to take
advantage of the excellent facilities.
''I was very proud to tell everybody that I am coming down to
Dunedin and this is one of the best places in the world if
you are interested in sheep science.
''As a scientist, it will be a shame for me to see such a
Some of his research had used sheep raised at Invermay.
''We got some animals that were raised here and developed
here and we used them for crossbreeding in Israel and we
developed our new varieties.''
AgResearch acting chief executive Andrew McSweeney said in a
statement it valued work done at Invermay, but believed
research would be better served by moving staff to Lincoln.
''We believe . . . co-locating more of our scientists with
other scientists doing complementary work will fuel more
collaboration and knowledge sharing and deliver greater
returns for New Zealand farmers.''
On the issue of losing expertise, Mr McSweeney said: ''Roles
are not proposed to relocate before 2016 and we are committed
to continuing to talk to our staff, listening to their
concerns and supporting them throughout this transition.''