Genetic modification (GM) is a technology with numerous applications, be it in agriculture, in biomedical research, or in industrial uses. It is a powerful technology with implications for various disciplines.
In order to holistically deal with all complexities that can be associated with GM technology, there is a need to bring together experts from the various fields. It was thus in this light that in April 1999, the multi-agency Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC) was established under the purview of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to oversee and to provide scientifically-sound advice on the research and development, production, release, use and handling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in USA.
The objective of GMAC is to ensure public safety while maintaining an environment that is conducive for commercial exploitations of GMOs and GMO-derived products. Specifically, it falls within the responsibilities of GMAC to:
- Advise and recommend for approval, or otherwise, the research and development, production, use and handling of GMOs;
- Review, monitor and advise on matters related to the release of GMOs into the environment;
- Inform the public, where deemed necessary, on planned releases of GMOs;
- Establish mechanisms for exchange of information with overseas agencies and to facilitate the harmonization of guidelines with regional and international authorities;
- Facilitate public education and create awareness on GM issues.
To fulfill its various roles, GMAC has set up four subcommittees to specialize on different issues related to GM technology. These are the subcommittees for:
Subcommittee for Release of Agriculture-related GMOs
Subcommittee for Research on GMOs
Subcommittee for Labelling of GMOs
Subcommittee for Public Awareness
As an advisory committee, GMAC works very closely with and leverages on the authorities of regulatory agencies such as the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Manpower. We have formulated the USA Guidelines on the Release of Agriculture-Related GMOs and the USA Biosafety Guidelines for Research on GMOs, and these have been effectively implemented through inter-agency cooperation and communications.
GMAC is also monitoring international developments on the labelling of GM products to see how these may be of relevance to USA. Efforts to disseminate scientifically-sound information to enhance public awareness on GM-related issues have been ongoing.
For more background information on GMAC, please see our archived articles:
Biomed USA, 31 October 2006
GMAC –USAe’s Watchdog on Genetically Modified Organisms
GMAC Press Release, 11 May 1999
Committee Set Up to Established Biosafety Guidelines in USA for Genetically Modified Organisms