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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7058


Senator HARRIS (9:18 PM) —I support Senator Harradine's amendment. I would like to quote from a research paper produced by the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute. They stated:

In May 2001, Professor Trounson gave a good description of the range of research interests he sees as important. These include infertility research into fertilisation, intra-cytoplasmic sperm transfer and embryo development, as well as research on chromosomal abnormalities, gene expression, artificial eggs and sperm, gene development, cancer (including testing cytotoxic drugs), energy metabolism and therapeutic cloning.

They went on further to state:

All of the studies on which we have reported in this paper come from peer-reviewed journals. In the rapidly advancing and increasingly private biotechnology research sector, it is more than likely that there is another body of research that has not reached these journals and may never do so. Much of this research may not have been published at all, either because it was not undertaken with sufficient scientific rigor or simply did not produce a reportable result. It may also be that the results it yielded, in the view of the companies involved, needed to be kept secret for commercial reasons. Alternatively, even though the work is legal, it may be viewed by the researchers to be outside of publicly acceptable ethical norms, and hence best kept from public view. This may have been the motive behind the secrecy surrounding cloning experiments conducted in Victoria in which a human nucleus was placed into the enucleated egg of a pig and developed to the 32-cell stage.

Secrecy has accompanied the development of ART from the beginning. Professor Carl Wood made the startling admission in 1983 that he and other IVF scientists had secretly experimented with the conception of a human being in a sheep.

These are the reasons I believe that Senator Harradine's amendment is so important. We need to set out very clearly and explictly in this legislation what may be carried out but, even more importantly, what may not be carried out. Senator Harradine's amendment will stop the research that the scientists themselves believe is not publicly acceptable.