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Public Health (09-12-2015)

Final Opinion on Synthetic Biology III: Risks to the environment and biodiversity and research priorities

Today, the European Commission and its non-food Scientific Committees1 publish their final Opinion on Synthetic Biology III: Risks to the environment and biodiversity related to synthetic biology and research priorities in the field of synthetic biology. This is the last in a set of three scientific Opinions2 on Synthetic Biology (SynBio).

The Opinion identifies major gaps in knowledge to be considered for performing a reliable risk assessment. For example:

  • Standardised techniques to monitor biocontainment and survival in environments outside the bioreactor and to generate comparative data for use in quantitative biocontainment assessment.
  • Information to assess the implications, as well as the environmental and evolutionary consequences of a collaborative interaction between non-living proto cells and living organisms.
  • Impacts from accidental or intentional introduction of SynBio organisms into the environment.

The Opinion goes on to provide research recommendations resulting from gaps identified. For example:

  • Impacts from accidental or intentional introduction of SynBio organisms into the environment with emphasis on the effects on habitats, food webs and biodiversity.
  • The difference in physiology of natural and synthetic organisms.
  • The environmental performance of SynBio processes and products, considering the full product life cycle.

More information:

 


1Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR)

2 Synthetic Biology I Opinion– Definition
Synthetic Biology II Opinion - Risk assessment methodologies and safety aspects