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Tools for Safety Assessment: The Deliberate Release of Transgenic Plants - Biology, Hazards and Safety

Download here: Tools for Safety Assessment: The Deliberate Release of Transgenic Plants - Biology, Hazards and Safety ( pdf 378 Kb) Dr. L. Auberson

The safety assessment of transgenic plants is a challenging and fascinating intersection of many disciplines of study, such as agronomy, molecular biology and ecology. Authorizations for the release of transgenic plants are granted after the examination of scientific evidence about the nature and likelihood of potential hazards. Most of the transgenic organisms being introduced into the environment are modified forms of familiar organisms with a long history of safe use, such as crop plants. However, the permanence of certain types of genetic information that encode novel traits in released organisms might lead to harm, if this information is transferred and expressed across geographical boundaries or taxonomic classes. Assessing the safety of releases is an activity of fundamental importance for the protection of environmental and human health; it is worthwhile to appreciate the broader background against which safety assessments are being performed. This report is a collection of three papers that have been previously published in scientific journals. The first paper (Part I) explains in what ways the risk assessment for the planned releases of transgenic organisms is distinct from the classical risk assessment for hazardous processes involving toxic compounds, radioisotopes or pathogenic organisms that have an intrinsic hazard. In the second paper (Part II), a flow chart for the comprehensive safety assessment of deliberate releases is proposed, based on impact analysis, hazard and damage scenarios, and a final safety appraisal. The last paper (Part III) compares the safety of plant genomic alteration using recombinant DNA technology with older methods such as cross breeding, mutation breeding or somaclonal variation. Independent of the method used, the process of plant genomic alteration produces a range of phenotypes (primary or secondary) from which the breeder then selects for progeny that display the proper agronomic effect and that are safe. Experience gained from traditional plant breeding, selection technology, and knowledge about natural rates of DNA variation can be combined to define the safety baseline for assessing transgenic plants.

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