Australia's recent adoption of a comprehensive regulatory regime to cover research into and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has already resulted in some debate about disclosure requirements. The regime is established under the Gene Technology Act 2000 (the Act) and, since it came into force on 21 June 2001, some major industry participants have sought to avoid disclosure of the location of GM crop trials by having them classified as confidential1. Companies involved in GM research are concerned that the disclosure requirements of the Act may jeopardise their research and endanger the properties of farmers who have agreed to conduct GM trials.
The strict new regime is a response to growing concern about public safety issues arising from the increased use of GMO's in the fields of research, agriculture and industry. There was concern that these issues were not being addressed by the previous voluntary guidelines. The following is a summary of the scope of the new regime and the key issues that researchers and investors in the GM industry should to be aware of.