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GMO, genetically modifies organisms

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Genetically modified microorganisms (GMOs) are microorganisms whose genetic composition has been altered using gene or cell technology.

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GMOs

GMOs do not include organisms where the genetic composition has been altered using conventional (traditional) crossing or by mutagenesis. (Mutagenesis involves the use of chemicals or irradiation to produce changes in DNA.)

In principle, all organisms can be genetically modified, and the methods used to introduce the desired DNA will vary from one species to another. Microorganisms are easy to cultivate in large quantities and are relatively easy to modify genetically. Genetically modified bacteria are used for research and for manufacturing genes, gene fragments, vitamins and proteins. GMOs also form part of some industrial processes, for example in the food and drink industry.

For more information about genetically modified microorganisms, please see the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board’s web pages (NO).

Obligation to report

An activity is categorised in one of four classes, each with an associated containment level:

  • Class 1. Activities involving no risk, or only an insignificant risk, with containment level 1.
  • Class 2. Activities involving a low risk, with containment level 2.
  • Class 3. Activities involving a moderate risk, with containment level 3.
  • Class 4. Activities involving a high risk, with containment level 4.

Applications for GMO approval of laboratories requiring containment levels 1 and 2 must be made no later than 45 days before the start of work. Applications for GMO approval of laboratories requiring containment levels 3 and 4 must be made no later than 90 days before the start of work. The approval body is the Norwegian Directorate of Health.

Accidents

Releases or other accidents while using GMOs:

Waste

Liquid biological waste must be autoclaved and delivered as problematic waste. The liquid waste must be packaged in a leak proof container (eg. tube or bottle with screw cap) and then in a yellow waste container.
Solid biological waste (eg agar bowls) is disposed of directly in a yellow waste container.

Biological samples containing antibiotics are treated as liquid / solid biological waste and delivered as problematic waste.