Home > Workplace Safety > Safe Working With GMOS (Genetically Modified Organisms)

Safe Working With GMOS (Genetically Modified Organisms)

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 28 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Safe Working With Gmos (genetically Modified Organisms)

GMOs are genetically modified organisms. Scientists use them in biotechnology facilities and research laboratories. Genetic modification involves the alteration of the genetic material of an animal, plant or micro-organism. Among the latter are fungi, parasites, viruses and bacteria.

In a standard GMO process, a scientist removes DNA from an organism. The scientist then manipulates the DNA, and either places it back in the original organism or transfers it to another one. The purpose is usually to cure or reduce diseases and abnormalities.

The Law

The main legislation relevant to GMO use in the workplace is the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000. Amendments to the law appeared in 2002 and 2005.

The law places great emphasis on environmental protection and human Health and Safety. Above all, the law requires everyone working with GMOs to consider the hazards of all related activities, and to put necessary controls in place.

To achieve this, the law states the legal obligations of all those who work with GMOs. It also gives a framework for making judgments about risks.

Summary

The law demands that all GMO activities have a Risk Assessment. This is part of a classification system. This reflects the risk of each activity.

The classification system must follow the standard for microbial laboratories. It has four levels:

  • Class 1 – negligible or no risk
  • Class 2 – low risk
  • Class 3 – medium risk
  • Class 4 – high risk

The law obliges those involved with GMO work to notify HSE (Health and Safety Executive) of individual Class 2, 3 and 4 activities. Scientists must obtain consent for Class 3 and 4 activities before commencing work.

Furthermore, all research laboratories and biotechnology facilities that intend to become involved with GMOs must tell HSE of this intention. HSE has a form for this purpose. The details required include the address of the premises; confirmation that there is a genetic modification safety committee in place to give advice on risk assessments; the nature of the work; and the qualifications of personnel.

In addition, there are fees to pay. For its part, HSE maintains a public register of all premises where GMO work takes place and of certain types of activity.

The public can view this register and make comments about new Class 3 and Class 4 activities to HSE. The time limit is 30 days after HSE acknowledges receipt of the notification of these activities.

Inspections and Policy

HSE has a specialist team that gives guidance and advice on GMO issues. The team also inspects premises.

An HSE policy team develops national GMO law, and discusses and introduces European and International GMO legislation.

SACGM (CU)

To further ensure health and safety, there is a group of external experts known as SACGM (CU) (the Scientific Advisory Committee on Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use). The group give advice on the risks of GMO work.

Contained Use

In the context of GMO work, “contained use” refers to the control measures that restrict contact between GMOs, humans and the environment. “Contained use” must give a high degree of safety. This means that GMO work must take place in controlled areas such as laboratories, suitable plant facilities, and appropriate animal housing.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Horsey gal.
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    I've been working in a cash office for the last 12mths. My boss recently told me that the office was only…
    28 May 2017
  • Bob Hope
    Re: Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?
    My employer is moving me shifts half way through the year. I am on Shift A they are moving me to…
    27 May 2017
  • JOhnbull23
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    Hello, Is it illegal to not show breaks on team rota's?
    27 May 2017
  • Steph0105
    Re: Can my Employer Fire Me?
    I was hired by a company with a 3 month probation period. 5 months later they decided to do a probation review and extend my probation…
    27 May 2017
  • cookie
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    I am a cook in a children's nursery and yesterday I was asked to clean up diarrhoea. I refused. Should I have cleaned it up?
    27 May 2017
  • Liz
    Re: Violence at Work
    A few weeks ago my colleague called out and she asked me for a favor which I'm her coverage when she's out vice versa. She asked me at around…
    27 May 2017
  • Sarah
    Re: Violence at Work
    My partner works in mental health care.for men who are schizophrenic. A client there managed to get hold of some pills while my partner was on…
    26 May 2017
  • Sarah
    Re: Violence at Work
    My partner works in mental health care.for men who are schizophrenic. A client there managed to get hold of some pills while my partner was on…
    26 May 2017
  • Smithy
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    I work at a catering company driving a forklift truck outside in their pallet yard sorting and stacking empty pallets. I sometimes am…
    26 May 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Zero Hours Contracts Explained
    Isabel - Your Question:I am working as a care.One day l was working on my call and I fell down the stairs of a client's house…
    26 May 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SafeWorkers website. Please read our Disclaimer.