New Genes for New Environments

AUSTRALIA -The Chief Scientist for Western Australia Professor Lyn Beazley has been given a first hand look at construction progress with the ‘New Genes for New Environments’ research facilities on Merredin Research Station.
calendar icon 9 May 2011
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The initiative, announced by the State Government last year, will enable the evaluation of the world’s best candidate genetically modified (GM) traits from both public and private research organisations, under Western Australian conditions, in a contained testing environment built to regulatory standards.

The Manager of the Merredin Research Support Unit Alan Harrod and local staff showed Professor Beazley around the site.

“Construction is nearing completion, and we aim to have the first research trials underway soon,” Mr Harrod said.

“Work began on the facility at Merredin Research Station in February. The experimental area and other facilities are already in place, and tenders have been let for a new laboratory that should be complete in July.”

The facility is part of the State Government’s $9 million dollar commitment to promote development and application of plant biotechnology research in Western Australia. It will be available to both public and private organisations for GM crop research, which has reached the critical proof of concept stage of initial field evaluation.

The facility is fully enclosed within a five-hectare site, with bird netting and a two-metre high perimeter fence. It will include a storage shed and workshop, along with an accredited laboratory and office, when complete.

A ‘Managed Environment Facility’ has also been established at the Merredin Research Station, enabling the department and its research partners to enhance or restrict moisture availability and closely monitor the performance of different crop types and breeding lines under a wide range of conditions.

“The Chief Scientist said she was very impressed with the scale of the scientific endeavour, and the commitment shown by the Department of Agriculture and Food to a cutting edge area of research that would provide benefits to the grains industry in the longer term,” Mr Harrod said.

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