Twenty years of the OGTR

In 2021 we celebrated our 20th anniversary. Community attitudes to genetically modified organisms are slowly changing. Research and science are developing rapidly. Find out more about how we respond to this evolving landscape.

Overview of the scheme

The Gene Technology Act 2000 (the Act) came into effect on 21 June 2001 establishing a nationally consistent regulatory system for gene technology which replaced a system of voluntary controls.

We have seen many changes and faced a range of challenges since then. Yet the purpose of the Regulator, the OGTR and the legislation remains the same. Safety has always been at the heart of the National Gene Technology Scheme (the Scheme). The Act’s aim 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’.

We have experienced many notable milestones during the last 20 years.

Find out more about the National Gene Technology Scheme.

Changes in the GMO research landscape

Over the years, we have seen a shift away from agriculture, to the use of GMOs for medical and industrial purposes.

Applications for clinical trials involving GM vaccines and therapeutics continue to increase. The first GM viral vaccine was approved for commercial release in 2010. In 2019-20 approvals for medical DIR licences exceeded those for GM crops.

Find out more about our changing regulatory landscape.

Shifts in community attitudes over 2 decades

There's a growing public awareness of the benefits that gene technology can bring. Support for medical applications and therapeutic use is rising. Yet levels of public understanding remain low. People continue to worry about the impacts of gene technology on their health and the environment.

Regulatory consistency and transparency remain important as ever.

Find out more about developing public attitudes.

Regulatory adjustments made in response to 20 years of changes and challenges

Ongoing advances in gene technology present exciting possibilities for innovation and growth. Gene technology legislation needs to respond to technological advances, while providing legal certainty.

Three policy reviews of the Scheme and 3 technical reviews of the Regulations have been conducted since 2001. These have resulted in improvements to the operation of the regulatory system.

The third scheme review is currently being implemented.

Find out more about how the regulatory system responds to innovation in gene technology.

Genetically Modified Organism Herbicide Tolerance Trait Review

After almost 20 years of GM cropping experience with cotton and canola in Australia, it is timely to consider issues associated with herbicide-tolerant traits, weed resistance and changes in weed management measures. As part of 20 years of operation of the Gene Technology Act 2000, the Regulator commissioned a report to provide advice on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (crops) containing multiple herbicide tolerant traits and impacts on herbicide use, herbicide tolerance and herbicide resistance management issues in Australia.

You can find out more about the findings and recommendations by reading the executive summary of the report.

Or you can read the full version of the report prepared by Dr Rohan Rainbow, Managing Director of Crop Protection Australia.

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