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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2518


Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (8.12 p.m.) —I would make two points. I am advised that human genetic material has been put into bacteria not covered by this legislation but not into plants. That refers to the point Senator—


Senator Coulter —It is only a matter of time though.


Senator SHERRY —As I have already alluded to, and I will reiterate: if a company or whoever wanted to put a human gene into plants, which is theoretically possible but has not occurred to date, in terms of the human genetic material it cannot be covered by this legislation. It would obviously cost a lot money to do that. There is no practical sense in doing it at the present time because human genetic material cannot be regulated by this legislation. What happens in terms of the genetic manipulation of human genes as a consequence of legislation we will have before us next year, I do not know. I have not looked at the legislation; I do not know what is involved in that.

  I just conclude by saying that this is only able to regulate plant genetic material. We do not have and are not likely to have any genetic material before us with human genes before the further legislation next year. If we did and if it were fundamentally a plant, then it would be regulated by this legislation, but the genetic component that relates to human genetic material cannot be regulated by this legislation.

  Question put:

  That the amendments (Senator Coulter's) be agreed to.