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Ecological aspects of hazard identification for environmental uses of genetically engineered organisms



Ecological aspects of hazard identification for environmental uses of genetically engineered organisms



Risk assessment in genetic engineering: 18-31



The environmental use of genetically engineered organisms raises 3 questions: (1) will the genetic alteration modify ecologically or environmentally relevant properties of the organism? (2) could the genetic alteration be transferred to other organisms, and if it so, what might the consequences be? (3) what will be the consequences of adding a new species or genotype to the ecological community in which the product is to be used? The goal of risk assessment is to make a reasonably accurate prediction of the likely behaviour of the organism after release, and to avert problems before they occur. This is not yet possible, because of our imperfect understanding of ecology, particularly microbial ecology, and of genetics and risk assessment itself, and caution is necessary for the moment.

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