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FAQs - Subcommittee for Research on GMOs

The Subcommittee

1. What does the GMAC Subcommittee on Research do?

The terms of reference for the GMAC Subcommittee on Research are to:

- Establish issues concerning the biosafety of research involving genetic modification or genetically
  modified organisms (GMOs) for the creation of an enabling environment for biotechnology R&D;
- Deliberate on the policy, scientific and economic aspects of biosafety safeguards covering GMOs for
  research purposes;
- Formulate recommendations regarding the Singapore Biosafety Guidelines for Research on GMOs.
  These will include recommendations for the establishment and review of guidelines for physical and
  biological containment for GMOs in R&D activities; and
- Evaluate submitted research proposals involving genetic manipulative work or GMOs and to provide
  expert advice for the risk assessment of these.

2. What is the “Singapore Biosafety Guidelines for Research on GMOs”?

The Singapore Biosafety Guidelines for Research on GMOs was drawn up with the objective of ensuring the safe containment, handling and transport of GMOs used in research in Singapore. It is the first and only set of biosafety standards designed specifically for laboratory/facilities involved in GM work.

This set of Guidelines was drawn up in consultation with the local regulatory agencies and other stakeholders, in addition to references made to other relevant international guidelines, regulations and publications including those from Australia, the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO).

3. What kind of applications does it review and endorse?

The GMAC Subcommittee on Research for GMOs reviews and provides endorsements for research proposals within Singapore involving genetic manipulative work or GMOs, and to provide expert advice for the risk assessment of these.


Research Proposals

1. What purpose does the review of research proposals by GMAC serve?

The GMAC subcommittee reviews the proposals involving GMO work from all the research establishments based in Singapore to ensure that the prescribed safety guidelines are adhered to while planning (and future execution of) the research projects. The Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBC) also are required to ensure safety within their respective Institutions.

2. What kind of information is required for the scientific assessment of these proposal forms?

Information required for GMAC’s scientific assessment includes details pertaining to the gene modification process such as the identity of the transgene(s), host/vector systems to be used etc. For more details, you may refer to the proposal form available for download here.

3. Who assesses these forms?

Review panels comprising members of the Subcommittee on Research for GMOs will assess the forms.

4. How can I be sure that the information will stay confidential?

All members of the GMAC Subcommittee for Research on GMOs are required to sign a confidentiality agreement before undertaking their duties as member of the review panel.

5. I have a problem classifying my project. What should I do?

You may wish to consult your IBC and/or the GMAC Secretariat for further clarifications on the rightful classification of your project.

6. How should I classify my project if the GM work to be undertaken potentially falls within two categories?

In this case, we will recommend that the applicant submit his/her research proposal under the higher classification of the two. When the review panel sees it appropriate, the classification may be maintained or downgraded accordingly. The applicant and the IBC will be informed about this in the endorsement to be returned after GMAC’s completion of assessment.

7. To whom should I submit the proposal form?

The proposal form should be submitted to your IBC for its review and approval prior to submitting it to GMAC for review.

8. What should I do if there is no IBC in my institution/organization?

It is recommended that you set up your own IBC as the main biosafety committee overseeing biosafety issues at your premises. During the period of establishing your own IBC, it may be appropriate for your organization to consult an existing IBC in another Singapore-based outside your premises. But we would like to highlight that this is not to be considered as a permanent arrangement. The presence of an IBC is crucial to the implementation and day-to-day enforcement of the Singapore Biosafety Guidelines for Research on GMOs and other biosafety regulations and guidelines.

9. What should be the rightful composition of an IBC?

For details about IBC composition, you may to refer to Section 5.2 of the Singapore Biosafety Guidelines for Research on GMOs here. You may also wish to visit the webpage of the MOH Biosafety Branch for detailed information regarding the composition of the IBC here.