BIOSAFETY CONCERNS IN THE CONTEXT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY.
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BIOSAFETY CONCERNS IN THE CONTEXT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY. Presentation for Training Workshop for Regional Advisors Bangkok, Thailand 15-27 May 2006. STARTING POINT. Conference on the Environment and Development Convention on Biological Diversity Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

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BIOSAFETY CONCERNS IN THE CONTEXT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY.Presentation for Training Workshop for Regional AdvisorsBangkok, Thailand 15-27 May 2006.


STARTING POINT

  • Conference on the Environment and Development

  • Convention on Biological Diversity

  • Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety


WHAT IS BIOTECHNOLOGY?

Processing of substances by biological agents to produce goods and services.

  • Biological agents: mainly microbes, animal and plant cells and enzymes.

  • Substances: renewable materials as well as those produced by microbes.

  • Goods and services: food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, etc.


EARLY BIOTECHNOLOGY

  • Exploited microbes capable of producing useful substances by fermentation

  • Gave rise to industries associated with manufacture of wine, cheese, etc.


FIRST WAVE OF BIOTECHNOLOGY

  • Fermentation process deciphered and manipulated to produce useful substances

  • Substances include industrial chemicals: acetone, glycerol, citric acid, etc.

  • Production of industrial chemicals represents first wave of biotechnology


SECOND WAVE OF BIOTECHNOLOGY

  • Production of antibiotics (also fermentation products) ushered in the second wave of biotechnology

  • Use of antibiotics became the cornerstone of infectious disease control


THIRD WAVE OF BIOTECHNOLOGY

  • Brought about by the advent of genetic engineering

  • Made possible by discovery of DNA-modifying enzymes

  • Basis of genetic engineering is gene transfer, gene alteration and gene regulation

  • Gave rise to GMOs, LMOs or transgenic organisms


DRIVERS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY

  • Fermentation technology

  • Plant and animal cell culture

  • Enzyme technology

  • Genetic engineering


REVIEW: BIOSAFETY PROTOCOL

  • Concerns about potential negative impact of development on the environment

  • Concerns about GMOs (LMOs)

  • UN System for managing trade in GMOs


WHAT ARE THESE CONCERNS?

  • Environmental concerns

  • Animal and public health concerns


ROOT OF CONCERNS

  • New technology

  • Status of knowledge on effects

  • Complexity of GMOs and their products

  • Uniqueness of each GMO


ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

  • Spreading of transgenes by GMOs to closely related domesticated or wild relatives

  • Spreading and invasion into natural ecosystems by GMOs

  • Spreading of transgenes from GMOs to unrelated species


ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

  • Development of herbicide-resistant weeds

  • Development of insecticide-resistant pests

  • Damage to non-target organisms interacting with GMOs


Spreading of GMO transgenes to relatives

  • GMOs targeted

  • Possible effects on biodiversity

  • Potential contamination of conventional crops by GMOs

  • Potential for development of herbicide-resistant weeds


Transgene spread to unrelated species

Spreading of transgenes by plants to microbes with potential implications for:

  • Infectious diseases controlled by antibiotics

  • Potential for resistance to antibiotics

  • Increases in the number of antibiotic resistance genes


Potential for development of insecticide-resistant pests of plant crops


Transgene effects on non-target species

  • GMOs targeted

  • Potential for toxicants

  • Potential effects on non-targets and biodiversity


ANIMAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS

Effects of DNA, food and feed derived from GMOs

  • Possible pathological effects


ANIMAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS

Differences between transgene sequences in notification and in actual insert

  • Rearrangements of transgene in genome

  • Appropriateness of risk assessment data based on notifications


ANIMAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS

Persistence and uptake of foreign DNA and protein in gut of mammals

  • DNA and protein escaping digestion

  • DNA fragments [ for example the cry1(A) gene] shed in faeces and incorporated in manure


ANIMAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH

Transgenic or altered proteins

  • Difficulty in predicting plant gene expression due to environmental control, insertion sites and stability of inserts

  • Possibility of producing allergens, toxicants, biologically active compounds, etc


ANIMAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH

Production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals by plants

  • Potential for producing harmful substances

  • Plant species selected

  • Unintended mixture of GMO crops and conventional ones


RESPONSE ADVOCATED

Proactive action encouraged before GMOs are placed on the market

  • Case by case risk assessment

  • Notification procedures( for example, the Advanced Informed Agreement)


BIOSAFETY AND THE BCH

The BCH is the Information System of the Biosafety Protocol and caters for biosafety as follows:

  • Source of information on biosafety laws

  • Contact information on administrators of biosafety regime

  • Source of information on GMOs ( types, uses, risk assessment, risk management, decisions taken, etc ).

  • Roster of experts


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