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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.

 

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The intentional release of micro-organisms into the environment

Challenges to commercial use

Bioremediation involves the application of micro-organisms for the removal of contaminants from the environment. Bioremediation competes effectively with other remediation approaches, such as thermal desorption and incineration. Further innovation of this technology involves the development of geneticically engineered strains with enhanced biodegradability capabilities. At present, however, there have been very few reported examples where genetically engineered micro-organisms have been released into commercial bioremediations. The main reasons for this include the lack of knowledge of the environmental risks and benefits of releasing genetically modified organisms into a contaminated area. In addition, non-specialist stakeholder support is often overlooked and remains a crucial area for improvement if sustainable remediation is to continue to develop. This chapter focuses on the application and risks associated with bioremediation.

English

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