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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2518


Senator COULTER (8.10 p.m.) —I would just assure Senator Sherry that I am not under the misapprehension that we are talking patenting. Even though this is clearly a lesser protection than that which comes under patenting, nonetheless it is a protection for commercial exploitative purposes; it is the same principle. It might be a slightly lesser protection. The fact that people can get access to this genetic material and reproduce it does not in any way deny the fact that the exploitation of this material for commercial purposes is what is protected. It may be that what is being exploited here is the additional genetic material and not the plant species which has been developed. That represents a very significant broadening of this legislation.

  I could not quote a source, but I think Senator Sherry is wrong. I think the human gene for insulin has, in fact, been included into plants. It has certainly been included into bacteria, but I think I am right in saying that it has been included into plants as well. There is no reason to suppose that this would not be done in the very near future, anyway. Genes today can be taken from just about anywhere and put anywhere else. That is one of the things that worries so many of us.

  I am making the point that, okay, the human gene would be available for other people. It would not be protected in the same way as a patent. However, the species which included that gene would be commercially exploitable not because of its plantness but because of its human gene content. That is objectionable within this legislation.