In Australia, all dealings with live and viable genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including import, are illegal unless authorised under the Gene Technology Act 2000 (the Act).
Authorisation will fall into one of the following categories:
- a licence for dealings involving intentional release of a GMO into the environment (DIR licence)
- a licence for dealings NOT involving intentional release of a GMO into the environment (DNIR licence)
- a listing on the GMO Register
- a Notifiable Low Risk Dealing (NLRD) for specified research described in the Gene Technology Regulations 2001
- an exempt dealing as described in the Gene Technology Regulations 2001.
- specification on an Emergency Dealing Determination (EDD)
When importing GM seed/grain, or seed/grain that is known to be mixed with any amount of a GM material, the importer is required to notify AQIS by marking 'yes' at the appropriate question in the Application for Permit to Import Quarantine Material. The AQIS permit application form also requires importers to provide details of the relevant authorisation under the Act (e.g. OGTR licence number of NLRD identifier number and name of assessing IBC). To verify authorisations, AQIS and the OGTR may exchange information that importers have provided to either agency.
Information on how to apply for a licence or other authorisation under the Act can be obtained by contacting the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR). Importers should be aware that an authorisation may take time and, therefore, it should be sought well in advance of importing.