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Australian Export Controls and the Life Sciences

A guide to understanding export control laws regarding the physical export, intangible supply, publication or brokering of life sciences related goods, software or technology

7: Summary of life sciences controls in the DSGL

The DSGL contains a number of specific controls related to biological and chemical goods and technology. Below are links to the relevant biological and chemical controls which can be viewed via the Online DSGL Tool at https://dsgl.defence.gov.au.

7.1: Controls for biological materials

All biological weapon agents that are listed in Part 1 (ML7.a) are controlled. These are biological materials that are adapted or configured to produce casualties in humans or animals, degrade equipment or damage crops or the environment. In addition, Part 1 of the DSGL controls particular “software” (ML21) and “technology” (ML22) for the “development”, “production” and “use” of biological weapon agents listed in ML7.a.

Dual-use controlled biological materials listed in Part 2 of the DSGL comprise:

  • human pathogens – including viruses, bacteria, toxins and fungi;
  • animal pathogens – including viruses and mycoplasmas; and
  • plant pathogens – including viruses, bacteria and fungi. 

The controls apply to natural (wild type), enhanced and modified (including genetically modified) biological materials; those made via synthetic biology; and apply to both “isolated live cultures” and deliberately inoculated or contaminated living material. The specific pathogens are listed in 1C351 (human), 1C352 (animal) and 1C354 (plant). In addition, Part 2 of the DSGL controls “technology” (1E001) for the “development” and “production” of listed dual-use biological materials. Written nucleic acid sequences of controlled biological materials are not controlled.

IMPORTANT: There are no controls on technology that is for the use of a pathogen.

There are also controls (1C353) for genetic elements and genetically modified organisms that contain nucleic acid sequences from DSGL-listed pathogens that are either associated with pathogenicity (either increasing or decreasing pathogenicity) or are responsible for the coding of DSGL-listed toxins. 

To future-proof for advances in emerging technologies such as synthetic biology, controlled pathogens remain controlled even if they have been inactivated (unless it can be confirmed by the exporter that sufficient disruption has taken place that no infectious nucleic acid fragments remain).

IMPORTANT: Vaccines” are exempt from control if they are in a pharmaceutical formulation that is licensed by, or has marketing or clinical trial authorisation by a regulatory authority.

7.2: Controls for chemicals

Part 1 of the DSGL controls chemical weapon agents (ML7.b) and precursors (ML7.c), and riot control agents (ML7.d). Software (ML21) and technology (ML22) for the “development”, “production” and “use” of Part 1-listed chemical weapon agents and precursors and riot control agents is also controlled.
Part 2 of the DSGL controls certain chemicals (1C350) that can be used as chemical weapon precursors, and certain toxic chemicals (1C450). Technology for the “development” and “production” of Part 2-listed, dual-use chemicals (1E001) is also controlled.

IMPORTANT: This Guide does not cover chemicals that are known primarily as energetic materials including explosives, propellants and oxidisers. These chemicals are listed in ML8, ML908 and 1C111.

7.3: Controls on biological and chemical equipment

Part 1 of the DSGL controls all military equipment designed for the handling, detection, protection, dissemination and decontamination of biological weapon agents or chemical warfare agents (ML7.e - ML7.i). Software (ML21) and technology (ML22) for the “development”, “production” and “use” of military equipment designed for the handling, detection, protection, dissemination and decontamination of biological weapon agents or chemical warfare agents is also controlled.

Part 2 of the DSGL controls dual-use biological equipment (1A004 and 2B352) and dual-use chemical equipment (1A004, 2B350 and 2B351). Technology (1E002.g, 2E001, 2E002 and2E301) for the “development”, “production” and “use” of biological and chemical equipment is also controlled. Software (1D003, 2D001 and 2D351) for the “development” and “production” of biological and chemical equipment and software for the “use” of certain biological and chemical detection systems is also controlled.

IMPORTANT: The DSGL contains Notes which provide guidance on how to interpret control text. Notes may apply to a Part, Category Item or sub-item. The General Technology Note and the General Software Note apply to all technology and software controls in Part 2 of the DSGL. See Annex 4 for further information on General Notes.
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