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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 Singapore.

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 GMOs and GMO-Related Products

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 Singapore Food Agency (SFA), the Ministry of Health (MOH), and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). We have formulated the Singapore Guidelines on the Release of Agriculture-Related GMOs and the Singapore 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 Singapore. 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:

GMAC Press Release, 11 May 1999
Committee Set Up to Established Biosafety Guidelines in Singapore for Genetically Modified Organisms