The CSIRO, Australia's premier publicly funded research centre, has recently applied to the OGTR
for approval of a field trial of a number of genetically engineered wheat varieties with modified nutrient characteristics.
Office of the Gene Technology (OGTR
) has an administrative role to support the Gene Technology Regulator in managing any potential risks associated with gene technology.
There is no adequate appeal against the OGTR for unpopular decisions, and the regulator has legal immunity.
The OGTR website (<www.ogtr.gov.au>) indicates a plethora of biomedical experiments not intended for release; the curious browser is warned that that the downloadable document listing them runs to 600 pages.
The unified, rational, one-stop-shop model proposed by public interest groups would have required all uses of GEOs to be notified with the OGTR, and to be assessed, licensed, insured and monitored under an integrated system.
Instead, an ad hoc gap-fill model was adopted, where many GEO proposals bypass the OGTR. Human genetic engineering, animals bred for organ transplant, and vaccine and drug production will continue under voluntary guidelines.
* All interested groups and individuals can appeal the OGTR's decisions.
Yet the government's draft bill for the OGTR merely enshrines the failed GMAC system in law.
The GeneEthics' model for a OGTR would establish a `one stop shop' whereby all applications to use GE processes or deal in any way with GE products would be submitted directly to the OGTR, without exception.