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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8604

STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MP GENETICALLY ENGINEERED EUCALYPTS

Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 05/08/1992

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 8604

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STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MP
GENETICALLY ENGINEERED EUCALYPTS
I am pleased today to congratulate the CSIRO on the
development of a genetically engineeredi~ hucailyptus tree.
CSIRO scientists successfully transferred a gene from a
bacterium into cells from red gum. Each " 1transgenic" cell
has already re-generated into a young river red gum,
growing in sterile conditions in a laboratory.
Genes have been transferred successfully into other plant
species, but this is the first scientifically confirmed
genetic transfer into the river red gum.
The harmless bacterial gene transferred into the gum tree
by the CSIRO's Divisions of Forestry and Plant Industry
is simply a " marker" to show that the technology works.
Next, the scientists plan to repeat these experiements
using two temperate eucalypts ( Eucalyptus nitens and
globulus) both of which are important commercial
plantation trees in Australia.
As an environmental safety measure, the next step is to
genetically engineer sterile plantation trees. Once this
has been achieved, there will be no risk that unwanted
genes might spread into native forests. The CSIRO's " gene
shears" technology, which switches of f unwanted genes,
will be used as part of the sterility program.
The development of transformation systems and sterility
would then allow for changes in important economic
properties, such as pest resistance and high density
wood. The genetically engineered trees will not be able to
breed, so they will have -YEo-propagated by laboratory
cloning. Scientists will be able to choose the best
plantation specimens and produce large numbers of these
elite trees.
The transformed trees are growing under secure laboratory
conditions, and it will be some time before plants are
available or officially approved for field testing.
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I am also pleased today to declare open new laboratories
for the CSIRO's Division of Forestry, and to launch the
Co-operative Research Centre for Temperate Hardwood
F-6rstry in Hobart.
The new research centre, one of 50 such centres
throughout Australia, brings together scientists from
several institutions and from the forestry industry to
tackle common research problems.
HOBART AUGUST 5, 1992 1057 31

Transcript 8604