The Gene Technology (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2000 is another important component of the new national scheme for the regulation of gene technology.

As detailed in Chapter 3, the Gene Technology Bill 2000 creates a regulatory framework for the assessment of all activities involving live, viable genetically modified organisms. The Bill does this by establishing a centralised regulator undertaking biosafety assessment of all GMOs and GM products.

The Gene Technology (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2000 compliments the Gene Technology Bill 2000. It ensures that all existing regulators of GM products (such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australia New Zealand Food Authority) have access to the GTR’s advice on biosafety.

The Gene Technology (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2000 requires that the existing regulators of GM products, which operate under the existing schemes for the regulation of food, therapeutic goods, and agricultural, veterinary and industrial chemicals must:

  • seek advice from the GTR in relation to any application for approval of a GM product;
  • take such advice into account in decision-making under relevant legislation; and
  • notify the GTR of all decisions made in relation to GM products to enable those decisions to be entered on a central, publicly available database of all GMOs and GM products, held by the GTR (to be known as the Record of GMOs and GM Product Dealings).
The legislation that will be amended by the Gene Technology (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2000 to effect the changes detailed above includes:
  1. the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 and the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Code) Act 1994;
  2. the Australia and New Zealand Food Authority Act 1991;
  3. the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989; and d) the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.
The amendments to existing legislation which are contained in the Gene Technology (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2000 will ensure that:
  • any duplication of effort and resources between existing regulators flowing from the creation of the GTR is minimised;
  • a clear interface is put in place between the GTR and the existing regulators; and
  • the existing regulators of GM products have access to the GTR’s comprehensive advice on biosafety.
The Gene Technology (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2000 also adds information declared by the GTR to be confidential commercial information (as discussed in Part 12) to the list of information that is exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. This ensures that information assessed to be confidential by the GTR is also protected under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.