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If you wish to release genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment in Scotland for research and development purposes, you must obtain consent from the Scottish Government.

GMOs are organisms in which the genetic material (DNA or RNA) has been altered by methods that don’t occur in nature.

Research releases are small-scale releases carried out under controlled conditions.

How to apply

To obtain consent, you should contact the Scottish Government’s GM Policy Team.

Consents are determined on a case-by-case basis following consultation with the public and other interested bodies and will only be granted if the Scottish Government is satisfied that release will be safe for human health and the environment.

You will receive written notice of the Scottish Government’s decision within 90 days of your application being received.

Further information on applications can be found on the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture website.

Fines and penalties

If you release GMOs into the environment without consent or fail to comply with the conditions of your consent, you are committing a criminal offence and may be imprisoned for up to five years and/or fined up to £20,000. You may also be ordered to take steps to remedy any compliance failures.