STA convened an expert working group of representatives from our membership to prepare a submission for the Review of the National Gene Technology Scheme.
The focus of our submission was to highlight the fast pace of research in gene technology, the need for better public understanding and education around this research, the value in benchmarking against other countries to ensure Australia remains competitive, and the importance of sufficient support for regulators.
Key points in our submission are:
- CRISPR/Cas9 and related genome engineering approaches are a transformative technology whose actions STA believes fall under the auspices of the Gene Technology Act (2000)
- The GM status of organisms produced by CRISPR genome engineering should be assessed using the exiting definitions of GMOs which exist in the Gene Technology Act
- Any changes to the Act should not compromise the capacity of Australian researchers to utilise this technology
- Any risk management strategies, if required, should be undertaken on a case-by-case basis using evidence-based approaches that do not hamper Australia’s competitive position
- Regulation and legislation must be flexible enough to provide guidance to researchers working with rapidly changing technology
- Education for decision-makers and the general public will support evidence-based (rather than fear-based) decision-making
- Regulators must be supported with sufficient resources to ensure their work is able to keep pace with the sector they regulate
- Existing legislation adequately regulates genetic modification including activities associated with newer genome editing technologies
- Benchmark Australian legislation against other countries to ensure international competitiveness
- Increased vigilance and enforcement of unregulated importation and experimentation is warranted
- OGTR must continue to address mistrust and misinformation in the community about genetic modification in science and technology and its regulation
STA would like to acknowledge the contribution of the expert working group, and thank the Department of Health and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator for the opportunity to make a submission to the Review.
To read the full submission, click here.
- Dr Cathy Foley, Chair of Policy – Science & Technology Australia
- Dr Jeremy Brownlie, Vice President – Science & Technology Australia
- Dr Darren Saunders, Secretary – Science & Technology Australia
- Associate Professor Ian Smyth, Australian Phenomics Network
- Associate Professor Coral Warr, Genetics Society of Australia
- Associate Professor Megan Munsie, Stem Cells Australia
- Dr Gaetan Burgio, Australian Phenomics Network
- Professor Sergey Shabala, Australian Society of Plant Scientists