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    AGNES CUSACK: A CSIRO livestock research team believes it has developed a viable alternative. For the past 10 years, it's been using cytochines, proteins produced naturally in the body, to improve the immune response in chickens and help combat disease.

    Dr Mike Johnston says chickens treated with cytochines are healthier and quick to fatten up. And Dr Johnson says the cytochines won't infect humans.

    DR MIKE JOHNSTON: Well the cytochines are naturally produced by an animal and they're very short acting. So the production of the cytochine in the body does its job and then it's broken down extremely quickly.

    And in the system that we're using, which is the cytochine being delivered by a virus, the same sort of thing happens. The Virus delivers the gene producing the cytochine, the cytochine is produced, does its job, but then the virus and everything else is then eliminated by the immune system itself.

    So at the end of the day, there's nothing there, there's no virus and no gene producing the cytochine. You're only left with an animal which has an enhanced immune response.

    AGNES CUSACK: The CSIRO is working with a large international pharmaceutical company to test the new treatment for European and American markets.

    Peter Collingon says concerns such as genetic modification need to be thoroughly investigated.

    DR PETER COLLINGON: There's a lot of genetic modification that occurs just with natural selection in animals and with bacteria and viruses all the time, some good, some bad.

    That is why it is important with any process, particularly with a new process like this, that there is appropriate evaluation done with people with expertise, who are truly independent from any financial, if you like, benefits from the process itself. But my understanding in Australia, at least we have some processes in place to do that and one would presume that government agencies will make sure that that does occur, not only now, but in the future.
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