As Australia’s national research agency CSIRO plays a key role in the development and deployment of important technologies to benefit Australia’s people, industries and environment. As part of this, there is a broad spectrum of gene technology-related research happening across CSIRO.

Gene technology is the term given to a range of activities concerned with understanding gene expression, taking advantage of natural genetic variation, modifying genes and transferring genes to new hosts.

Our work ranges from basic gene editing in microbial, plant and animal sciences, through to exploring the potential of genetic control technologies for managing invasive plant and animal species.

The safe and responsible development of these technologies is also a topic of research and learning at CSIRO. Risk assessment, regulatory-research cooperation, social acceptability and ethical analysis are priority areas of work.

CSIRO is committed to the ethical conduct of research and has established processes and resources to assist in the design and implementation of ethically sound research projects. Under the CSIRO Code of Conduct, all staff are required to maintain high standards of research ethics and conduct and all staff are required to conduct their research in accordance with CSIRO policies.

All of our research involving gene technology is performed according to Australian legislation for gene technology, including regulations set out by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR). CSIRO sites undertaking gene technology research have Institutional Biosafety Committees, whose role is to ensure all procedures are in accordance with OGTR regulations.

These regulations require the safe conduct of gene technology research within laboratories and require that any release of a genetically modified organism (GMO) into the environment be licensed and comply with biosafety conditions that minimise any possible risk.

In addition, all animal research conducted by CSIRO must comply with the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (8th edition 2013) and the relevant state or territory legislation, and all human research must comply with the values, principles, governance and review processes specified in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007), the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) and any relevant state and national legislative requirements e.g. Privacy Act 1988.

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