There are strict laws that control this kind of research. First, permission to do the research must be given by ERMA (the Environmental Risk Management Authority). The researchers also only have permission to develop and use the worm in their facilities at Wallaceville.
Note: ERMA was disestablished in June 2011 and its functions incorporated into the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
Dr. Warwick Grant (
We have sought permission and been granted permission by ERMA for the genetic manipulation of these parasites under 'containments' which basically means we can do our genetic manipulations of the parasites and infect possums with those genetically manipulated parasites in the laboratory here at Wallaceville but nowhere else.
Dr. Doug Eckery
There are a lot of approvals that are needed; both from ERMA, from the ethics committees, there are local bodies that we need to get approvals from, there is the Hazardous Substances Act. So that everything that we do in the lab has to be very controlled and monitored carefully.
Dr. Warwick Grant
The long term aim of this project is to be able to take our genetically manipulated parasites and release them into the environment where all the possums are, and clearly there will be a long and exhaustive process of discussion with ERMA and public hearings where every person who is interested can have their say. That will determine whether we can do that or not. So its not just a science feasibility question here, there is also in the long term a social acceptability question, and that’s mediated through ERMA.