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Plant and Genetically Modified Organism Permits

State and Federal Permit Requirements for Plant Research

A permit may be required for importation, transit, movement by mail, or environmental release of plants or organisms that may impact local flora or agriculture. The process for determining when a permit is required depends upon what you want to collect and your intended use of the material.

If you are not sure whether your intended activity requires a USDA-APHIS permit, email USDA APHIS at or (301)734-5301.

Movement of Plants in Georgia

If your research involves moving any of the following into or out of Georgia, contact USDA-APHIS-PPQ to determine if a permit is required for your import or export.

• Importation of soil or plant materials, plant pests or plant associated organisms across state lines for research or domesitc purposes
• Exportation of soil or plant materials, plant pests or plant associated organisms across state lines for research or domesitc purposes
• Organisms and Soil
• Plant and Plant products
7 CFR 340.2 – Groups of organisms which are or contain plant pests and exemptions

Genetically Modified Plants and Plant Pests

Introductions (interstate movement, importation or environmental release) of a regulated genetically engineered organism is overseen by USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Service. Introductions and housing in outdoor venues (screen house, greenhouse, lath house, external beds) are authorized by USDA under either a permit or notification process.

USDA provides a frequently asked questions site to assist researchers in determining their permit needs. Plan early as permits may take up to 60 days to receive.

Under its biotechnology regulations, USDA does not currently ( regulate, or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are developed without the use of a plant pest as the donor or vector and they are not themselves plant pests. This can include plant varieties with the following changes:

  • Deletions—the change to the plant is solely a genetic deletion of any size.
  • Single base pair substitutions—the change to the plant is a single base pair substitution.
  • Insertions from compatible plant relatives—the change to the plant solely introduces nucleic acid sequences from a compatible relative that could otherwise cross with the recipient organism and produce viable progeny through traditional breeding.
  • Complete Null Segregants—off-spring of a genetically engineered plant that does not retain the change of its parent.
  • More here.  (Press release No. 00070.18 from 3.2018)


Last updated: 3/29/2018