Genetically modified organisms

Before beginning your research or teaching work using Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), you must tell the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) what you plan to do, and get the appropriate written approvals. Log into InfoEd to fill in an application form. For help, see the InfoEd guide to creating new applications [.pdf – 700kB]. If you need further help with the application, please contact the biosafety advisor.

Exempt Dealings

Exempt Dealings (EDs) pose the lowest level of risk. Curtin is therefore exempt from having to notify the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) that EDs are being done (like for an NLRD), or from seeking a Licence from the OGTR (like for a DNIR or DIR). EDs must be contained within a research or teaching facility, and must not involve the release of the organism into the environment. To check if your work is an ED, read Dealings classified as exempt dealings [.pdf – 179 kB].

If you want to perform an ED, before you begin you must advise the IBC by filling in the GM Dealing Application Form on InfoEd. The Biosafety Advisor will get back to you within a couple of days to confirm that you are planning to perform an ED or to ask you to submit an application to perform a different kind of dealing.

Notifiable Low Risk Dealings (NLRDs)

These GM dealings pose a low level of risk. Curtin must notify the OGTR about each NLRD that is being done. NLRDs must be contained within an OGTR-certified research facility, and must not involve the release of the organism into the environment. To check if your work is an NLRD, read Types of dealings with GMOs classified as Notifiable Low Risk Dealings (NLRDs) [.pdf – 151kB].

If you want to perform an NLRD, before you begin you must apply to the IBC for permission by filling in the GM Dealing Application Form on InfoEd. The IBC will assess your planned work, and either issue an Approval or ask you to submit an application to perform a different kind of dealing. You cannot commence your work until you receive Approval, which can take up to two months, so apply early to avoid delays.

Dealings Not involving an Intentional Release (DNIRs)

These GM dealings pose a higher level of risk. This class includes all dealings that are not EDs or NLRDs, and which do not involve an intentional release of the organism into the environment. DNIRs must be licenced to Curtin University by the OGTR. To check if your work is a DNIR, read What are Dealings NOT involving an Intentional Release (DNIR) of a GMO into the environment?

If you want to perform a DNIR, contact the biosafety advisor. They will help you through the application process. This involves applying to the IBC for approval, then the IBC will apply to the OGTR for a licence to do the dealing. You cannot commence your work until you receive a licence, which can take up to six months, so apply early to avoid delays.

Dealings involving an Intentional Release (DIRs)

These GM Dealings pose a higher level of risk. This class includes all dealings involving the release of the organism into the environment, usually field trials of plants. DIRs must be licenced to Curtin by the OGTR. To check if your work is a DIR, read What are Dealings involving an Intentional Release (DIR) of a GMO into the environment?

If you want to perform a DIR, contact the biosafety advisor. They will help you through the application process. This involves applying to the IBC for approval, then the IBC will apply to the OGTR for a licence to do the dealing. You cannot commence your work until you receive a licence, which can take between nine and fourteen months, so apply early to avoid delays.

Legislation governing the use of GMOs in Australia

The Gene Technology Act 2000 and Regulations 2001 describe a national scheme for the regulation of GMOs in Australia. The legislation aims to make GM techniques safe for researchers, the public and the environment. However, the safety of recombinant DNA work ultimately depends on the individuals conducting it.

The object of this 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.

The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) is the administrative body under the Act. The OGTR has awarded Curtin status as an Accredited Organisation, enabling us to perform gene technology Dealings, and maintain several OGTR-Certified research facilities.

Working with GMOs training course

Learn about the Working with GMOs training course on the Biosafety training and guidelines page.