In spring 2013, K2 was notified of an inspection by the Directorate of Health (HOD) regarding work in the laboratories with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The K2 management hence asked Professor Audun Nerland for help because he had worked on such matters at the former Gades institute and the Institute of Marine Research. The inspection resulted in both K2 and the Faculty being instructed to give training to their staff working on GMO.
Because of this, Nerland organized an internal course for staff at both the Faculty and Haukeland University Hospital. He later took the initiative to create and teach at a new university course (HUMGEN302) for students and fellows on regulations for working with GMOs.
The Gene Technology Act instructs us:
– that the laboratories are approved according to the risk level of GMO work
– that a notification / application is submitted about the work, which includes a risk assessment (project application); For work in risk classes 3 and 4, there must also be an impact assessment of what can happen if the relevant GMO is accidentally released into the environment
– that protocols for the work are written properly
– that the staff involved in the work receive thorough training
– that waste management and transport of GMOs are carried out in accordance with the regulations
– that there is a contingency plan in case the GMO unintentionally releases into the environment
It is important to have good procedures for GMO work in the laboratories in the event of an accident. We must expect new inspections from the Directorate of Health. Furthermore, there are frequent questions from both staff at K2 and other institutes about how applications should be designed and work routines / safety when it comes to working with GMOs, and there is a need or representation in various committees and resource groups. Therefore, I have found it necessary to have someone who is formally GMO responsible at K2.
The GMO responsible at K2 shall:
1. Advise those who are going to write applications / reports on working with GMOs (project applications).
2. Coordinate applications for approval of laboratories for work with GMOs.
3. Make sure we have an up-to-date database of applications / approvals for laboratories and projects.
4. Conduct inspections to ensure that the laboratories are organized in accordance with the regulations and that work is carried out satisfactorily.
5. Provide training as required by law, eg. through an e-learning course
6. Together with the HMS Manager, make sure that the “Guidelines for working with GMOs” is updated.
7. Establish a local GMO risk assessment committee.
8. Prepare an overall contingency plan in case of accidental release of GMOs.
9. Be in contact regarding GMO issues with the Faculty / UiB / Directorate of Health / Ministries.
10. Create a website for information and help with applications etc.
Thank you to Audun for his good work so far and for taking on this important task.
Have a great weekend!