Establishing Environmental Hazards of Genetically Engineered Microorganisms

  • John CairnsJr.
  • D. R. Orvos
Part of the Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology book series (RECT, volume 124)


During the 1970s, several techniques were developed that allowed the in vitro fragmentation and rejoining of molecules of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and the placement of these molecules into living cells. Use of these recombinant DNA techniques led to the development of biotechnology, broadly defined as the application of biologial organisms and their products to commercial processes (Office of Technology Assessment [OTA] 1988). Various types of organisms are now being used for biotechnology applications; however, bacteria have been used more than others because of their short generation times, lack of a defined nucleus, and relatively “simple” genetics as compared to eukaryotes. Genetic engineering of microorganisms is used to develop organisms capable of performing specific commercially desired tasks, including producing pesticides and pharmaceuticals, fixing nitrogen, leaching ores, recovering oil, degrading hazardous wastes, and constructing biological control agents for pests or diseases. Biotechnology products will, one hopes, benefit human society.


Risk Assessment Nonsterile Soil Indigenous Bacterium Aquatic Microcosm Genetically Engineer Microorganism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • John CairnsJr.
    • 1
  • D. R. Orvos
    • 1
  1. 1.University Center for Environmental and Hazardous Materials StudiesVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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