Biosafety and the Environmental Uses of Micro-Organisms

Conference Proceedings

image of Biosafety and the Environmental Uses of Micro-Organisms

Micro-organisms play a fundamental role in the environment. Yet their role is the result of complex biogeochemical processes by consortia of micro-organisms and the function of individual species is not clear in many cases.

This publication provides an overview of the current situation and relevant developments in environmental microbiology, as well as its potential application, which covers: use of micro-organisms for agriculture, production purposes, bioremediation, and cleaning purpose; environmental applications of microbial symbionts of insects; and environmental risk/safety assessment of the deliberate release of engineered micro-organisms.




Designing bacteria for the environment

From trial and error to earnest engineering

Since the mid-1970s, genetic engineering and the possibility of accidental or deliberate environmental release of modified micro-organisms has been the centre of debates concerning the consequences of altering the ordinary course of nature. For a sound discussion on risks, it is of essence to separate substantive scientific and technical issues from non-informed perceptions of the general public. This chapter advocates this question to be framed on the already extensive history and wealth of data on the design, performance and risk studies made since the early 1980s on genetically modified organisms and more specifically, on available records on genetically engineered micro-organisms (GEMs) designed for non-contained applications as in situ bioremediation agents. Existing information provides a suitable background for tackling the uncertainties raised by newly engineered agents, including those that may stem from synthetic biology.


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