About the National Gene Drive Policy Guide

Learn about the draft National Gene Drive Policy Guide and the legislation that may apply to gene drive applications in Australia.

About the guide

A draft National Gene Drive Policy Guide has been developed in consultation with all Australian governments and experts from research and industry. The guide will help proponents of gene drive technology understand:

  • how gene drive technology and organisms are regulated in Australia
  • what to consider before applying for gene drive technology research or environmental release.

Read about the consultation on the draft guide.


All dealings involving a genetically modified (GM) gene drive organism are regulated under the National Gene Technology Scheme and require a licence from the Gene Technology Regulator. The regulator issues licences according to the requirements of the Gene Technology Act 2000. The regulator may impose conditions that are considered necessary to manage risks posed by the dealing. This is achieved through the Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan.

The scheme is also complemented by various Commonwealth, state, and territory legislation, which may be triggered depending on the type of GM gene drive organism. 

As an evolving technology, the regulation of any application to environmentally release a GMO or GM gene drive organism may be more complex than applications for contained research in a laboratory. The National Gene Drive Policy Guide aims to provide guidance and information to improve stakeholders’ understanding of the regulatory environment and additional risk considerations that may apply to them.

While the guide aims to provide proponents with an understanding of what they need to consider, the list of considerations may not be exhaustive. Proponents must take responsibility for fulfilling the conditions that their application(s) require.

Draft National Gene Drive Policy Guide

The draft National Gene Drive Policy Guide aims to provide guidance and information to improve stakeholders’ understanding of the regulatory environment and additional risk considerations that apply to gene drives.

Case studies

Different applications of gene drives could have different regulatory requirements. The Gene Technology Regulator will assess applications based on the specific circumstances including any unique risks they may pose.

These hypothetical case studies provide an example of the many different considerations and how these may vary depending on the application of a GM gene drive (or other applications for environmental release of GMOs).

Note that these are hypothetical examples only. Consult the Gene Technology Regulator about your requirements.

Potentially applicable legislation

GM gene drives may trigger different legislative and regulatory requirements depending on what the gene drive does and the risks it poses. A GM gene drive may also trigger different legislation in different states and territories.

The tables below show a range of Commonwealth, state and territory legislation that may apply to a GM gene drive application. Follow the links to read the legislation.


State and territory legislation that may apply to an application for environmental release of a GM gene drive or GMO

StateGene technology legislation Potential legislation that may need to be considered
Australian Capital Territory

Gene Technology Act 2003

Gene Technology Regulation 2004

Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Act 2004


Animal Welfare Act 1992

Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005

Animal Diseases Act 2005

Plant Diseases Act 2002

Nature Conservation Act 2014

Fisheries Act 2000

Environment Protection Act 1997

Food Act 2001

National Environment Protection Council Act 1994

Public Health Act 1997

Biological Control Act 1984

New South Wales Gene Technology (New South Wales) Act 2003

Biological Control Act 1985

Biosecurity Act 2015

Animal Research Act 1985

Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016

Food Act 2003

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979

Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991

Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1979

Public Health Act 2010

Northern TerritoryGene Technology (Northern Territory) Act 2004

Agriculture and Veterinary Chemicals (Northern Territory) Act 1994

Biological Control Act 1986

Animal Protection Act 2018

Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976

Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1976

Environment Protection Act 2019

Biological Resources Act 2006

Food Act 2004

Public and Environmental Health Act 2011

QueenslandGene Technology (Queensland) Act 2016

Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Queensland) Act 1994

Biological Control Act 1987

Animal Care and Protection Act 2001

Biosecurity Act 2014

Biodiscovery Act 2004

Environmental Protection Act 1994

Nature Conservation Act 1992

Environmental Protection Act 1994

Food Act 2006

Pest Management Act 2001

Public Health Act 2005

South Australia

Gene Technology Act 2001

Genetically Modified Crops Management Act 2004

Genetically Modified Crops Management Regulations 2008

Biological Control Act 1986

Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (South Australia) Act 1994

Plant Health Act 2009

Animal Welfare Act 1985

National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972

Landscape South Australia Act 2019

Environment Protection Act 1993

Public Health Act 2011

Food Act 2001

Marine Parks Act 2007

Fisheries Management Act 2007


Gene Technology (Tasmania) Act 2012

Tasmanian Genetically Modified Organisms Control Act 2004

Genetically Modified Organisms Control (GMO-free Area) Order 2005

Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Tasmania) Act 1994

Animal Welfare Act 1993

Biological Control Act 1986

Biosecurity Act 2019

Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994

Food Act 2003

Threatened Species Protection Act 1995
Public Health Act 1997

Nature Conservation Act 2002

Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995


Gene Technology Act 2001

Gene Technology Regulations 2011

Control of Genetically Modified Crops Act 2004

Biological Control Act 1986

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986

Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Victoria) Act 1994

Plant Biosecurity Act 2010

Environment Protection Act 1970

Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994

Conservation, Forests and Land Act 1987

Food Act 1984

Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988

Heritage Rivers Act 1992

National Parks Act 1975

Wildlife Act 1975

Western Australia

Gene Technology Act 2006

Gene Technology Regulations 2007

Biological Control Act 1986

Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976

Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (WA) Act 1995

Animal Welfare Act 2002

Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007

Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016

Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment 1992

National Environment Protection Council Act 1994

Conservation and Land Management Act 1984

Agricultural Produce Commission Act 1988

Environmental Protection Act 1986

The tables above may not list all applicable legislation and legislation could change over time. Applicants wishing to environmentally release a gene drive or GMO need to ensure they understand the requirements prior to applying. Applications may need to comply with multiple state and territory laws.

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