UK Experience in Regulating the Release of Genetically Manipulated Microorganisms
In the United Kingdom laboratory based genetic manipulation experiments are regulated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and its Advisory Committee on Genetic Manipulation (ACGM). There is legal enforcement of safety standards for genetic manipulation by HSE through the Health and Safety at Work Act, which imposes general duties on employers to maintain a safe place of work and not to put non-employees at risk. This Act also requires that within the work place or laboratory individual workers have a duty towards the safety of others. An important role of the ACGM is to provide guidelines to enable genetic manipulation local safety committees (which are mandatory) and the scientists proposing to do research to determine appropriate containment levels for the work. These guidelines are also an expression of how to satisfy the general duties ot the Health and Satety at Work Act. ACGM’s primary role is to advise HSE (and the Health and Safety Commission) with respect to the general duties of the Health and Satety at Work Act which is concerned with human health and safety. However the Committee can also advise government ministers such as those for the environment, agriculture and health.
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