Release of Genetically Modified Microorganisms in Natural Environments: Scientific and Ethical Problems
Genetically engineered organisms are likely to be the cornerstone of the commercial application of biotechnology in the coming decades. The exponential increase of fundamental understanding in molecular biology over the last 20 years, is such that foreign DNA can be inserted into the genome of most organisms: it is now possible to introduce new and useful genes into organisms or to inactivate or modify genes within organisms, thereby removing certain traits or disarming pathogens. A wealth of potential applications in all fields including agriculture, medicine, chemistry has been revealed and several new pharmaceutical products are now on the market, allowing revolutionary new approaches to therapy and prophylaxis. In addition, herbicide-resistant and insecticide-producing plants have been prepared and have been shown to be effective in controlled trials. However, most of these applications are not yet widely used, since there is an increased awareness of the need to assess the possible consequences of the controlled release of genetically modified organisms into the environment. Moreover, the new possibilities of increasing the insect resistance of plants or improving their growth rate by the deliberate release of genetically modified microorganisms has caused concern among some groups and individuals.
KeywordsNatural Transformation Bacillus Anthracis Soil Microcosm Plasmid Transfer Conjugative Transfer
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