HSE Contained Use Regulations Revision

Industry has been lobbying to create a loophole to allow GM micro-organisms, synthetic biology products and GM fish and insects to be released into the environment on an industrial scale under the Contained Use regulations for GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).

They argue that limited physical containment (e.g. bioreactors, fish tanks, polytunnels) combined with mechanisms to limit the ability of the GMO to reproduce should be sufficient to classify an application as "contained use". Only limited public information would then be made available, a full environmental risk assessment could be avoided, and there would be no public consultation on plans such as (i) industrial scale production of biofuels using GM or synthetic micro-organisms; (ii) production of GM fish in tanks; (iii) release of GM insects (such as agricultural pests or bees) in polytunnels or greenhouses.

A public consultation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on the Contained Use regulations ends 20th December 2013. GeneWatch is concerned that safeguards are being weakened at the same time that production of industrial chemicals, drugs and biofuels using genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs) or synthetic micro-organisms may be scaled up, leading to significant discharges of GMMs or synthetic organisms into the environment with limited public information and no monitoring. At the same time, containment measures for "contained use" of GM animals and plants remain undefined because assessment of environmental risks is not covered by the Regulations.

GeneWatch UK's guide to the previous Contained Use regulations is here.


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