Office of Research Assurances

Hazardous Materials Shipping

Genetically Modified Organisms and Microorganisms


Genetically modified organisms (GMO) or microorganisms (GMMO) are organisms and microorganisms in which genetic material has been purposely altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur naturally. GMOs and GMMOs which do not meet the definition of infectious substance but which are capable of altering animals, plants or microbiological substance in ways which is not normally the result of natural reproduction must be assigned to UN 3245. GMOs and GMMOs that are infectious must be assigned to UN2814, UN2900 or UN3373.


These materials are packed for shipment in the same way as Category A Infectious Substances, except there are no testing requirements for the packaging; this packaging variation is IATA Packing Instruction 959 which state:

An inner packaging comprising

  1. Primary receptacles (s) and a secondary packaging, the primary receptacle(s) must be leakproof for liquids or siftproof for solids;
  2. For liquids, absorbent material placed between the primary receptacle(s) and the secondary packaging. The absorbent material must be in a quantity sufficient to absorb the entire contents of the primary receptacle(s) so that any release of liquid substance will not compromise the integrity of the cushioning material or of the outer packaging;
  3. If multiple fragile primary receptacles are placed in a single secondary they must be individually wrapped or separated to prevent contact between them.


The outer container of a GMO or GMMO assigned to UN3245 must display the following information:

  • The sender and recipient's full name and address;
  • UN 3245 Label (Figure 1); and

Figure 1

Pullman Campus
Office of Research Assurances, P.O. Box 643005, Albrook Rm. 205, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-3005
Hazardous Material and Shipping Coordinator: Phone: 509-432-3869, Fax: 509-335-6410