Recombinant DNA monitoring

In December 2000, the Federal Government passed the Gene Technology Act 2000 (the Act) and the legislation came into force in June 2001. This included the establishment of the Gene Technology Regulations 2001 (the Regulations) and a centralised national Gene Technology Regulator (the Regulator) to undertake assessment of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and GM products.

The object of the Act is to protect the health and safety of people, and to protect the environment by identifying risks posed by or as a result of gene technology, and by managing those risks through regulating certain dealings with GMOs.  Both the Act and the Regulations have since been amended and the most recent amendments commenced in September 2011.

The Act stipulates that dealings with GMOs may only be undertaken by an Accredited Organisation with (or access to) a properly constituted and maintained Institutional Biosafety Committee.  By regulatory requirement, you need approval from the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) and, in specific circumstances, the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) to undertake Recombinant DNA research.  At The Australian National University, the IBC is the University Recombinant DNA Monitoring Committee.

No dealing with a GMO may commence without written approval from The Australian National University Recombinant DNA Monitoring Committee. Dealings with GMOs may only be undertaken in Physical Containment facilities approved by the IBC and certified by the OGTR

The OGTR has also issued the National Framework of Ethical Principles in Gene Technology 2012 which presents ten key ethical principles relating to gene technology, and to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in particular, to guide scientists and to inform the community.

Unintentional releases

Unintentional releases should be reported to the OGTR via the Secretary of the IBC and Liaison Officers should make sure this requirement is widely known in their local area.  Local procedures for reporting unintentional releases (which include reporting to the Secretary of the IBC) should be included in facility manuals.