Regulatory experience and challenges for the release of GM insects

  • Camilla Beech
Conference Proceedings “Science into Policy”


Genetically modified (GM) insects are a potentially valuable new tool for the biological control of insect pests of humans, animals and plants. Considerable progress has been made recently in transfer of GM insects from the laboratory to release and evaluation in the environment. As with other new genetic technologies, regulatory agencies have often found it challenging to determine the regulatory regime under which they should be evaluated, and have either adapted existing regulatory frameworks or adopted new ones. No country has legislation specifically for GM insects. However, irrespective of the regulatory regime under which they are evaluated, the purpose of their regulation remains the same; to protect human health and the environment. Consequently there are evaluation themes common to their regulatory scrutiny, which are elucidated here. There have also been some challenges and issues encountered during the risk evaluation for field release of GM insects, and this paper will highlight some of these to assist others when considering policy, regulation and assessment of GM insects. Useful regulatory and policy precedents also exist from the regulation of biological control agents and the global protection of plants from pests under the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) framework. Where countries do not have existing regulations, these evaluation instruments could have the potential to be adapted to form a suitable framework for the assessment of risk for GM insects. Finally, some considerations for future policy and regulation in this area are discussed.


Regulation Genetic modification Insects Risk assessment Policy 



The author wishes to thank all of the collaborators involved with Oxitec insect control programs, which have helped make these insights into regulatory challenges with GM insects possible. Thanks also to Neil Morrison at Oxitec who read the manuscript and provided helpful suggestions. Acknowledgement is also made to the financial support of the OECD Co-operative Research Program for attendance at the meeting held in Brisbane, Australia 12–13 Nov 2013 Science into Policy; improving the uptake and adoption of research.

Conflict of interest

Camilla Beech is a full time employee of Oxitec Ltd, a UK company developing innovative pest control solutions.


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Copyright information

© Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oxitec LtdOxfordshireUK

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