‘Biosafety”, a term widely used in the context of modern day Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) include Mors related to the genetic stability, environmental, and food safety of organisms that have produced using modern recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology. A variety of scientific approaches are used to assess their genetic stability, reproductive ability, biochemical, morphological, physiological changes, their impacts on target and non-target organisms, and the surrounding environment in general.

One group of modern biotechnology products, the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), also known as Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEO), Transgenic Organisms (TO) or Living Modified Organisms (LMO), have raised considerable concerns about their biosafety and environmental impacts in the minds of the public, mostly at the instigation of anti-technology activists. Most of these biosafety “concerns” have evolved into major “biosafety” issues of modern biotechnology, largely due to pernicious and persistent global anti-biotech campaign.

The GMO safety tests include; biochemical and molecular characterization, and genetic stability testing including the determination of introduced gene’s copy number, followed by years of field-testing. In addition, food safety testing such as toxicological and allergenicity, nutritional and chemical composition analyses are by conducting animal feeding studies for years. All purveyors of GM crops have been forced to carry out such expensive tests in spite of a preponderance of scientific evidence that GM crops are “substantially equivalent” to the non-GM counterparts. It has become a habit with many regulatory agencies asking for mostly the “nice to have data” as opposed to “need to have data”.

Other scientific concerns are gene transfer to non-target organisms, and threat to biodiversity, persistence of transgenes in the environment, and development of weediness or “super weeds”.

All the above scientific concerns of biosafety have been adequately addressed in thousands of environmental risk assessments, food safety reviews, and hundreds of research studies carried out in North America and the European Union. Moreover, highly respected scientific academies of the world and international organizations like UN-FAO and UN-WHO have all opined that GM crops are as safe as or even safer than any other crop variety that is on the market.


GMO promotes deployment of tools of modern biotechnology wherever appropriate and affordable. Use of biotechnology in the deployment all tools of modern biotechnology to improve human welfare and for improving the environment. It should be based on the overwhelming scientific evidence, and proof to demonstrate that GM crops completely safe for large-scale cultivation, human and animal consumption.

Each GMO is unique and distinct that warrants a thorough safety and environmental risk assessment once so approved, they must be allowed for unfettered commercialization. One should not support any scientifically baseless fear or speculation to delay or stop the development of modern biotechnology. Scientific and empirical evidence to be attested for biosafety. There are some clearly discernible benefits from the no-till cultivation of GM crops and reduction in chemical inputs into agriculture and exposure of the same to farm laborers. There is demonstrable evidence of reduced fungal toxins in crops engineered with the Bt toxin genes, which is a bonus he to avoid food toxicity. GM crops do not impact the environment significantly than any other crops that have been introduced in modern agriculture.


Biotechnology has applications in four major industrial areas, including health care (medical), crop production and agriculture, non food (industrial) uses of crops and other products (e.g. biodegradable plastics, vegetable oil biofuels), and environmental uses.


Ø   Pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomics results in the following benefits:

  1. Development of tailor-made medicines. Using pharmacogenomics, pharmaceutical companies can era drugs based on the proteins, enzymes and RNA molecules that are associated with specific genes ail diseases. These tailor-made drugs promise not only to maximize therapeutic effects but also to decrease damage to nearby healthy cells.
  2. More accurate methods of determining appropriate drug dosages. Knowing a patient’s genetics will enable doctors to determine how well his/ her body can process and metabolize a medicine. This will maximized the value of the medicine and decrease the likelihood of overdose.
  3. Improvements in the drug discovery and approval process. The discovery of potential therapies will be made easier using genome targets. Genes have been associated with numerous diseases and disorders. With modern biotechnology, these genes can be used as targets for the development of effective new therapies, which could significantly shorten the drug discovery process.
  4. Better vaccines. Safer vaccines can be designed and produced by organisms transformed by means of genetic engineering. These vaccines will elicit the immune response without the attendant risks of infection. They will be inexpensive, stable, easy to store, and capable of being engineered to carry several strains of pathogen at once.

Ø   Genetic Testing

Genetic testing involves the direct examination of the DNA molecule itself. A scientist scans a patient’s DNA sample for mutated sequences.

Genetic Testing is Now Used for

  •    Carrier screening, or the identification of unaffected individuals who carry one copy of a gene for a disease that requires two copies for the disease to manifest;
  •    Confirmational diagnosis of symptomatic individuals;
  •    Determining sex;
  •    Forensic/identity testing;
  •    Newborn screening;
  •    Prenatal diagnostic screening;
  •    Presymptomatic testing for estimating the risk of developing adult-onset cancers;
  •    Presymptomatic testing for predicting adult-onset disorders.

The tests currently available can detect mutations associated with rare genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and Huntington’s disease. Recently, tests have been developed to detect mutation for a handful of more complex conditions such as breast, ovarian, and colon cancers.

Ø   Gene Therapy

Gene therapy may be used for treating, or even curing, genetic and acquired diseases like cancer and AIDS by using normal genes to supplement or replace defective genes or to bolster a normal function such as immunity here are basically two ways of implementing a gene therapy treatment:

  1. Ex vivo, which means “outside the body” – Cells from the patient’s blood or bone marrow are removed and grown in the laboratory. They are then exposed to a virus carrying the desired gene. The virus enters the cells, and the desired gene becomes part of the DNA of the cells. The cells are allowed to grow in the laboratory before being returned to the patient by injection into a vein.
  2. In vivo, which means “inside the body” – No cells are removed from the patient’s body. Instead, vectors are used to deliver the desired gene to cells in the patient’s body.

Molecular technology is at the threshold of many possibilities for use in the clinical or hospital laboratory. Currently, molecular technology is used to identify disease causing organisms, genetic disorders or tumors.

Biochips – any microprocessor chips that can be used in biology. The chips are the size of an uncooked grain of rice, small enough to be injected under the skin using a syringe needle. They respond to a signal from the detector, held just a few feet away, by transmitting out an identification number. This wonderful idea – capable of locating lost children, downed soldiers, lost pets and wandering Alzheimers patients.


Improve Yield From Crops: Using the techniques of modern biotechnology, one or two genes may be transferred to a highly developed crop variety to impart a new character that would increase its yield.

Reduced Vulnerability of Crops to Environmental Stresses: One of the latest developments is the indentification of a plant gene, At-DBF2, from thale cress, a tiny weed that is often used for plant research because it is very easy to grow and its genetic code is well mapped out. When this gene was inserted into tomato and tobacco cells (see RNA interference), the cells were able to withstand environmental stresses like salt, drought, cold and heat, far more than ordinary cells. Researchers have also created transgenic rice plants that are resistant to rice yellow mottle virus (RYMV). In Africa, this virus destroys majority of the rice crops and makes the surviving plants more susceptible to fungal infections.

Increased Nutritional Qualities & Quantity of Food Crops: Proteins in foods may be modified to increase their nutritional qualities. Proteins in legumes and cereals may be transformed to provide the amino acids needed by human beings for a balanced diet. Golden rice is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa) produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of pro-vitamin A in the edible parts of rice. Golden rice was developed as a fortified food to be used in areas where there is a shortage of dietary vitamin A. In 2005 a new variety called Golden Rice 2 was announced which produces up to 23 times more beta-carotene than the original variety of golden rice.

Improved Taste, Texture or Appearance of food: Modern biotechnology can be used to slow down the process of spoilage so that fruit can ripen longer on the plant and then be transported to the consumer with a still reasonable shelf life. This improves the taste, texture and appearance of the fruit. More importantly, it could expand the market for farmers in developing countries due to the reduction in spoilage.

Reduced Dependence on Fertilizers, Pesticides and Other Agrochemicals: Most of the current commercial applications of modern biotechnology in agriculture are on reducing the dependence of farmers on agrochemicals.

For example, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a soil bacterium that produces a protein with insecticidal qualities. There are several Bt toxins and each one is specific to certain target insects. But corn is now commercially available in a number of countries to control corn borer (a lepidopteran insect), which is otherwise controlled by spraying (a more difficult process). The introduction of herbicide tolerant crops has the potential of reducing the number of herbicide active ingredients used for weed management, reducing the number of herbicide applications made during a season, and increasing yield due to improved weed management and less crop injury.

Production of Movel Substances in Crop Plants: Biotechnology is being applied for novel uses other than food. For example, oilseed can be modified to produce fatty acids for detergents, substitute fuels and petrochemicals Potatoes, tomatos, rice, tobacco, lettuce, safflowers, and other plants have been genetically-engineered to produce insulin and certain vaccines. If future clinical trials prove successful, the advantages of edible vaccines would be enormous, especially for developing countries.


Biotechnology is being used to engineer and adapt organisms especially microorganisms in an effort to find sustainable ways to clean up contaminated environments. The elimination of a wide range of pollutants and wastes from the environment is an absolute requirement to promote a sustainable development of our society with low environmental impact. Biological processes play a major role in the removal of contaminants and biotechnol-ogy is taking advantage of the astonishing catabolic versatility of microorganisms to degrade/convert such compounds. New methodological breakthroughs in sequencing, genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and imaging are producing vast amounts of information. In the field of Environmental Microbiology, genome-based global studies open a new era providing unprecedented in silico views of metabolic and regulatory networks, as well as clues to the evolution of degradation pathways and to the molecular adaptation strategies to changing environmental conditions. Functional genomics and metagenomic approaches are increasing our understanding of the relative importance of different pathways and regulatory networks to carbon flux in particular environments and for particular compounds and they will certainly accelerate the development of bioremediation technologies and biotransformation processes.

Marine environments are especially vulnerable since oil spills of coastal regions and the open sea are poorly ‘ containable and mitigation is difficult. In addition to pollution through human activities, millions of tons of petroleum enter the marine environment every year from natural seepages. Despite its toxicity, a considerable fraction of petroleum oil entering marine systems is eliminated by the hydrocarbon-degrading activities of microbial communities, in particular by a remarkable recently discovered group of specialists, the so-called hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria (HCB)

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