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The law

The primary piece of legislation that applies to the use of genetically modified organisms in the workplace is the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000 (GMO(CU)) as amended by Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) (Amendment) Regulations in 2002, 2005 and 2010. A note clarifying the minor changes made in 2010 was sent to biosafety officers.

The GMO (CU) Regulations provide for human health and safety and environmental protection from genetically modified micro-organisms in contained use, and additionally the human health and safety from genetically modified plants and animals (GMOs). The key requirement of the GMO (CU) Regulations is to assess the risks of all activities and to make sure that any necessary controls are put in place. The GMO (CU) Regulations provide a framework for making these judgments, and place clear legal obligations on people who work with GMOs.

The Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000:

There are also other pieces of health and safety legislation that are relevant to work with GMOs. These include the general requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and the Carriage of Dangerous Goods legislation. There are also some biological agents aspects of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 which may be applicable in some circumstances.

Further pieces of legislation covering the environmental risks posed by work in contained facilities with GM plants and animals are

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is responsible for deliberate releases of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Further guidance can be obtained from the DEFRA website.

Updated 2011-11-18