Safety, Health & WellbeingGenetic modification

No work involving genetic modification should be carried out on any new project until the Genetic Modification Safety Committee (GMSC) has approved the risk assessment. Following approval, the Principal Investigator will be informed when the work may proceed.

The primary legislation that applies to the use of genetically modified organisms in the workplace is The Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2014.

Genetically modified organism risk assessments

At the University of Strathclyde, Principal Investigators wishing to carry out experiments involving genetic modification must submit an appropriate risk assessment form to the Genetic Modification Safety Committee (GMSC) at

The following forms are to be used for completing the risk assessment:

These forms are also available on SPIDER, under the Safety link and GM tab.

GM Risk assessments are carried out in two stages:

  • Stage 1 - Identification of harmful properties (hazards) of the genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically modified micro-organism (GMM)
  • Stage 2 - Determination of the final classification of risk assessment required i.e. Class 1 or Class 2

The risk assessment should be carried out using The Scientific Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification (SACGM) compendium of Guidance (Parts 1 - 6) which is currently under review by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Part 1 of this guidance from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification is below. All relevant parts should be used in the risk assessment process.

The completed GM risk assessment will be reviewed by members of the GMSC, following which comments will be collated and returned to the GM project proposer who will then have an opportunity to address the comments and revise the assessment. The GMSC aims to return comments to the proposer within 3 weeks but times may vary. Time from submission to approval depends on the Class of the project.

Project classes

Projects involving the use of Genetically Modified Organisms are split into two classes:

  • Class 1 - These projects must be notified in advance to the GMSC.
  • Class 2 - These projects should be notified in advance to the GMSC, who in accordance with the statutory requirements, will make notification, in advance of the project starting to the HSE. The Principal Investigator is required to the pay the relevant HSE fee.

Project status

It is essential that the GMSC is kept informed of the current status of all projects.

Projects are listed under the falling statuses:

  • Active
  • Suspended - Propagatable GM Material is stored within the University
  • Archived - No propagatable GM Material remains within the University

An annual status review will be carried out each January. The Principal Investigator should notify the GMSC of any substantial changes to the GM project within the timeline of the annual review and review/resubmit the risk assessment to the GMSC as required.

Further reading