What are genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?​

When gene technology is used to create a GMO, we regulate working with that organism. Learn about GMOs, the GMO Record and GMO dealings.

What is a GMO?

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is:

  • a plant, animal or other organism that has been modified using gene technology
  • an organism that has inherited modified traits from a GMO.

Gene technology is also known as genetic engineering, biotechnology and genome editing. Synthetic biology uses gene technology to make synthetic organisms or products. As such, most synthetic biology organisms are also GMOs.

Genetic modification is widely used to make medicines such as insulin, and vaccines such as Vaxchora® which protects against cholera. Several of the COVID-19 vaccines are either GMOs or made from GMOs. Genetic modification is also used to make medicines and vaccines for animals such as the Poulvac vaccine for poultry.

Genetically modified canola, cotton and safflower are grown locally. GM cotton often contains an insecticide producing gene from bacteria to provide resistance to pest insects.

We regulate working with GMOs in Australia to help protect people and the environment.

What is the GMO Record?

The Record of GMO Dealings, or GMO Record, provides the community with access to information about GMOs in Australia.

The GMO Record has been operating since 2001. It's an important part of the transparency of GMO regulation.

Australia was one of the first countries to make comprehensive information about GMOs publicly available.

What are GMO dealings?

A dealing is an interaction with a GMO. The Gene Technology Act 2000 defines a dealing 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
  • possess, supply or use the GMO for the purposes of, or in the course of, any of the above.

The GMO Record includes information on all dealings, except exempt dealings.

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