Genetic Engineering, artificial modification of hereditary factors by direct manipulation of the structure or position of the genes (DNA); in Austria governed by the Genetic Engineering law since 1995 (Gentechnik-Gesetz) and updated from time to time by regulations covering various aspects in detail. There are various safety measures concerning scientific activities in the field of genetic engineering. Basically all such activities are liable to registration, special cases require an official permit (sometimes limited in time). The manipulation of human genes is subject to extraordinarily strict standards and in some cases strictly prohibited. The use of genetically modified organisms (at present almost exclusively plants) outside special laboratories (i.e. their release and bringing them into circulation) requires an official permit in every case and is limited to small quantities under permanent observation (monitoring). In Austria, all products containing genetically modified organisms or parts of them are liable to certification.
Research in the field of genetic engineering in Austria is mainly conducted by universities, hospitals, independent research institutes and the pharmaceutical industry. No releases of modified plants have been permitted in Austria to date (as of 2000). Genetically modified products approved for marketing in the states of the EU (potatoes, maize) are registered in the Austrian public registry of genetically modified products. The import and cultivation of two genetically engineered strains of maize which are resistant to pests is prohibited.
Literature: D. Heberle-Bors, Herausforderung Gentechnik, 31996.