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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2515


Senator COULTER (7.51 p.m.) —Reading this bill carefully, we find there is no protection. I think the parliamentary secretary must answer Senator Harradine on this. There is no protection at all in relation to human genes. It seems to me that this legislation is designed specifically to protect plant species which are grown as plants for plant like purposes—the production of grains for food; the production of flowers for our entertainment; those sorts of things. It is for the protection of plants commercially, for plant like purposes. That is as clear as I can put it.

  Clause 6 would allow the inclusion of a human gene into a plant, which could be commercially exploited for reasons quite unrelated to the plant, perhaps for reasons related to human disease—for example, in the production of enzymes, proteins or something else that might be used for treating humans. I think the answer to Senate Harradine must be that there is no protection in this legislation that would prevent that sort of thing from happening.

  I link that back to the other amendment, the definition of a plant. The parliamentary secretary has been deceptive when he talks about making the legislation clearer by including fungi and algae. It simply begs the question. The UPOV does not require that the definition be broadened. Fungi and algae could be included or excluded; the legislation would be equally clear.

  The purpose of this legislation, even though we do not agree with it, is to protect plant breeders in a commercial sense, and plant breeding material to be used as plants; not as fungi or algae or as the vehicles for human genomic manipulation. This is going far wider than is either necessary or desirable in this legislation. It is really going beyond the purposes for which this bill is so clearly designed.