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Path is open for gene editing of plants in Australia

On 10 April 2019 the Australian Government released amendments to the Gene Technology Regulations 2001 (Cth) (Regulations) which will change the law in Australia so that organisms (including plants, animals and human cell lines) developed using certain types of new gene editing techniques will no longer be classified and regulated as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) under the Gene Technology Act 2000 (Act).

The amendments will have wide ranging benefits for agricultural research in Australia, allowing animal and plant breeders to utilise new available gene editing technology to develop and bring to market improved varieties at a quicker pace and at a lower cost than traditional breeding methods.

The amendments follow a 12 month technical review of the Regulations and a two year consultation conducted by the Gene Technology Regulator (Regulator), resolving a debated and contentious uncertainty in the legislation as to whether organisms modified using certain new technologies meet the definition of GMO under the Act.

The purpose of the amendments is to bring the regulatory regime up to date with advancements in technology used to modify organisms and current scientific understanding of the risks they pose.

Read more at CIOPORA (Alanna Rennie, Baker McKenzie)

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