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About biodiversity :: What is Biosafety

Biosafety is a term used to describe efforts to reduce and eliminate the potential risks resulting from biotechnology and its products.

The term biotechnology refers to any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for a specific use.


In the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, modern biotechnology means the application of:- In vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles, or

- Fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family, that overcome natural physiological reproductive or recombination barriers and that are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection.Biotechnology, in the form of traditional fermentation techniques, has been used for decades to make bread, cheese or beer. It has also been the basis of traditional animal and plant breeding techniques, such as hybridization and the selection of plants and animals with specific characteristics to create, for example, crops which produce higher yields of grain.The difference with modern biotechnology is that researchers can now take a single gene from a plant or animal cell and insert it in another plant or animal cell to give it a desired characteristic, such as a plant that is resistant to a specific pest or disease.

Cartagena Protocol (text of the Protocol: link to the Biodiversity Convention Site)

PRO and CON Biotechnologies

Genetic engineering promises remarkable advances in medicine, agriculture, and other fields. These may include new medical treatments and vaccines, new industrial products, and improved fibres and fuels. Proponents of the technology argue that biotechnology has the potential to lead to increases in food security, decreased pressure on land use, sustainable yield increase in marginal lands or inhospitable environments and reduced use of water and agrochemicals in agriculture. Biotechnology is a very new field, and much about the interaction of LMOs with various ecosystems is not yet known. Some of the concerns about the new technology include its potential adverse effects on biological diversity, and potential risks to human health. Potential areas of concern might be unintended changes in the competitiveness, virulence, or other characteristics of the target species; the possibility of adverse impacts on non-target species (such as beneficial insects) and ecosystems; the potential for weediness in genetically modified crops (where a plant becomes more invasive than the original, perhaps by transferring its genes to wild relatives); and the stability of inserted genes (the possibilities that a gene will lose its effectiveness or will be re-transferred to another host).


Biosafety Clearing-House

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