The primary piece of legislation that applies to the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the workplace is the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000 (‘the GMO(CU) Regulations’). These regulations are current up to 30 September 2014. On the 1 October 2014, a new set of regulations, the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2014, will take their place.
The GMO(CU) Regulations provide for human health and safety and environmental protection from genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs) in contained use, and human health and safety from genetically modified plants and animals. 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 GMO (CU) Regulations:
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.