What is a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)

Definition: The full definition of a GMO appears under section 10 of the Act. In essence, a GMO means:
  1. an organism that has been modified by gene technology; or
  2. an organism that has inherited particular traits from an organism (the initial organism), being traits that occurred in the initial organism because of gene technology.

What is the GMO Record?

The term ‘GMO Record’ is shorthand for Record of GMO and GM Product Dealings (Part 9, Division 6, Gene Technology Act 2000).

The GMO Record contains information on all genetically modified organism (GMO) dealings approved by, or notified to, the Gene Technology Regulator (the Regulator) or specified in an Emergency Dealing Determination.

It also contains information on all GM product approvals notified to the Regulator by other regulatory authorities.

The purpose of the GMO Record is to provide the Australian public with ready access to information about GMOs and GM product dealings in Australia.

Australia is the only country in the world to make such a comprehensive record available to the general community.

The GMO Record is a very important part of the openness and transparency of the regulatory system for GMOs that has been operating in Australia since 21 June 2001.
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What are dealings with a GMO?

‘Dealing’ in relation to a GMO is defined in the Gene Technology Act 2000 (the Act) as meaning:
  • conduct experiments with the GMO
  • make, develop, produce or manufacture the GMO
  • breed the GMO
  • propagate the GMO
  • use the GMO in the course of manufacture of a thing that is not the GMO
  • grow, raise or culture the GMO
  • import the GMO
  • transport the GMO
  • dispose of the GMO or
  • possess, supply or use the GMO for the purposes of, or in the course of, any of the above.
Under Part 4 of the Act, all dealings with GMOs are prohibited unless they are:

What GMO and GM product dealings are listed on the Record?

The GMO Record contains information about:
  • NLRDs
  • all licences granted by the Regulator, including those for
  • dealings with GMOs included on the GMO Register
  • GMO dealings authorised by an Emergency Dealing Determination made by the responsible Australian Government minister
  • GM products approved or registered by
    • Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (for agricultural and veterinary chemicals derived from GMOs)
    • Therapeutic Goods Administration (for therapeutics derived from GMOs)
    • National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (for industrial chemicals derived from GMOs)
    • Food Standards Australia New Zealand (for GM foods).

Although the above GM products are approved by regulatory authorities other than the Regulator, including GM products on the GMO Record ensures that the Australian public can easily access a comprehensive record of all GMOs and GM products.

You can get more information about the GM products referenced in the GMO Record by approaching the relevant product regulator directly.

Confidential Commercial Information

The term ‘Confidential Commercial Information’ (CCI) may appear in the GMO Record or documents related to it.

This is because Section 184 of the Act provides for a person to apply to the Regulator for a declaration that certain information is CCI.

If that application is approved, the information declared as CCI by the Regulator under Section 185 of the Act must not be released to the public. If an application for CCI is made, the information must be treated as CCI until a decision is made about the application.

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