Biotech Updates

Biosafety in a Boundless World

February 9, 2007

Biosafety is defined as the prevention of large-scale loss of biological diversity and integrity due to human activities. It has been often reduced to potential risks due to genetically modified (GM) plants. Important concerns regarding GM plants, however, are not exclusive problem of these plants. Non-native plants and pathogens also have dramatic ecological impact on some plant species, but only a small number of plants introduced into a new environment become invasive. Natural and induced mutations in traditional plant breeding, however, can catalyze the evolution of invasiveness. Concerns regarding uncontrolled gene flow between organisms that are sexually compatible have prompted the development of genetic conservation programs in many countries.

Novel risks introduced by new technologies are presumed greater than established ones, even if the latter are less well characterized. Perhaps the most difficult hurdle facing the advance of genetic modification is not a technical but a psychological one; hence, there is a need for an independent and objective biosafety research devoid of restrictions from the government.

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