Volume 9 Number 1, March/April 1999, pp. 33-47
GeneCom '98: Gene Technology and the Community
29 November - 1 December 1998, Adelaide
This three day meeting was relatively little publicised in the national press, but had an
impressive line-up of speakers. Dr John Saunders of the Linden Group, Sydney was
Chairman. Speakers at the opening afternoon session, which set the scene were politician,
Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja on privacy rights, Professor Grant Sutherland on the human
genome project, Professor Phillip Morris on the future of DNA diagnosis and Sir John
Maddox on the new genetics. The following 8 sessions were filled with an impressive array
of speakers, covering the broad areas of bioethics and genetics very comprehensively.
Australian Academy of Science Forum
Gene Technology and Food - 31 March, 1999
This was the 59th meeting of the National Science and Industry Forum, held annually by
the Academy, at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney on 31 March.
The subject of the meeting is, of course, very topical at present. In particular, it followed
the Consensus Conference on Gene Technology in the Food Chain, held earlier in March.
The participants and audience, however, were very different, largely drawn from food
companies and/or the scientific community and so well informed on gene technology and its
applications. Perhaps this is why there was relatively little contention at this meeting.
What the British Think - a Government Ministerial View
Genetically-Modified Foods and Crops
There is a good deal of public interest at present in issues surrounding
genetically-modified (GM) foods and crops. Some people have called for a ban on GM foods.
Others have called for a moratorium on growing GM crops in this country. Colleagues may
find it helpful if we set out the main facts, and the Government's position on them.
Swiss Referendum on Genetic Engineering
Briefing Paper No. 8 of the Task Group on Public Perceptions of
Biotechnologyby Prof. Dr Richard Braun, BIOLINK, Switzerland -
On June 7, 1998, Switzerland voted by a 2:1 majority not to ban genetic engineering. The
popular initiative, called the "Gene Protection Initiative (GPI)", had as goals the prohibition
of all transgenic animals, the banning of all field releases of transgenic crops and the
prevention of patenting certain inventions of biotechnology. Before the popular vote took
place, Parliament committed itself to enact a strict regulatory framework, but no bans.
A Roadmap for Commercialisation of Australian Biotechnology Research
Victorian members of the ABA in association with the Licensing Executive Society
organised an excellent, well attended (140 people) and enthusiastic one day meeting at the
Crown Towers Hotel in Melbourne on Tuesday, 27 April 1999.
This symposium was held in the sumptuous surrounds of the hotel, which forms the
centrepiece of Melbourne's casino. Against a backdrop of black marble, chandeliers and the
distant swirl of roulette wheels, the most telling comment heard during the lunch break was
"that with the turnover of one day's gambling, we could run CSIRO for a year". If that is so,
then it was an ideal site for a conference on "A Roadmap for Commercialisation of
Australian Biotechnology Research". The conference was supported generously by the
government's Biotechnology Task Force (ISR) and Florigene Ltd. There were 13 speakers, a
concluding panel session, and a seemingly endless cocktail reception afterwards!
BresaGen - Delivering Innovative Biopharmaceuticals
BresaGen is a South Australian biotechnology company committed to the discovery and
commercial development of products derived from recombinant protein technologies.
BresaGen's quest for innovation is driven by an integrated network of research laboratories
which trace their roots back to the University of Adelaide, where in 1982, the company was
created as BRESA (Biotechnology Research Enterprises of South Australia). That strategic
core has been carefully nurtured into today's team of 46 employees, 19 with post-doctoral
experience. BresaGen has specialists in the fields of biochemistry, molecular biology,
embryology, cell biology, chemical engineering and bioprocessing. Its science is supported
by a management team whose years of expertise in biotechnology, manufacturing, finance
and general management supports the company's mission.
The Battle for Scientific Journals
The April editorial for "Chemistry in Australia" follows. It is reproduced here with the
kind permission of the author/editor, Dr Paul Savage, of CSIRO Molecular Science.
"Think about the journals you regularly read or scan in your library. Now choose five you
could do without. Now choose another five to cross off your list. Getting difficult yet?
Academic and company libraries around the world are cancelling thousands of dollars worth
of journal subscriptions in an effort to stay within their budgets. Faced with spiraling journal
costs, the proliferation of new journals, and electronic journal formats, most librarians have
little choice but to cancel subscriptions to journals deemed dispensable in order to protect
Copyright 1999 Australian Biotechnology Association Ltd.