The University of Western Australia (UWA) has been placed under investigation after GM lupin plants were discovered over two years after trials of genetically modified plants were completed in Mingenew (1997) and Quairading (1998). The results, which are due during the early part of this month, are expected to conclude that the GM sites were not properly monitored.

News of the investigation came with the latest quarterly report of Australia's biotech watchdog, the Interim Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (IOGTR). It has caused some anger among local residents who claim that they were unaware at the time that herbicide resistant lupins had been planted in trials. 

Worryingly, the IOGTR report also found that the national (and voluntary) guidelines that govern GM trials have been breached at 25% of former trial sites across Australia. This was also the case in the WA trials, as despite the existence of federal guidelines stating that all seeds should be removed from test sites after test completion, flowering GM lupins were found during inspections in 1999 and 2000.

The 1997 and 1998 trials were initially conducted by the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture, which included researchers from the UWA and Agriculture WA. The centre was later taken over by the faculty of agriculture of the UWA.