Developing and applying sound science to the environmental risk assessment (ERA) of biotechnologies is crucial for safely realizing their contributions to human health and sustainable production of food, fuel, and fiber. Whether it be through improving systematic approaches to inform understanding of plausible risks associated with the use of gene drive strategies or working to maximize the value of data, the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute continues its longstanding commitment to serve as a scientific resource for governments, academic institutions, and private sector organizations.
Collaborators & Partners
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Government of Australia
The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute's active programs related to environmental risk assessment (ERA) include:
Confined field trials (CFTs) are conducted to inform environmental risk assessments that are required by regulatory authorities before genetically engineered crops can be approved and released for cultivation. Many countries expect CFTs to be conducted as a matter of course, even if satisfactory data are already available from trials conducted elsewhere. The primary variable that differentiates CFT locations is agroclimate, which means that data from trials cultivated in like agroclimates should be considered relevant and sufficient to satisfy regulatory requirements, irrespective of the country where the CFTs are conducted.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2017 World Malaria Report, an estimated 216 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide in 2016, with 90% of this total concentrated in the African region. Alarmingly, and despite an increased public health focus on the elimination of malaria, it is becoming clear that many countries will not be able to achieve this goal without considering novel management approaches. One control strategy in the early stages of development is the use of gene drive mechanisms to suppress or replace vector mosquito populations.
The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute's concluded projects in the area of environmental risk assessment include:
October 5, 2020
Organized by the South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) in collaboration with Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), this online event was the seventh lecture in the SABP Webinar Series, which aims to build understanding of biosafety among students of biotechnology, i.e., “tomorrow’s researchers.”
September 22, 2020
Organized by the South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) in collaboration with Sylhet Agricultural University (SAU), this online event was the sixth lecture in the SABP Webinar Series, which aims to build understanding of biosafety among students of biotechnology, i.e., “tomorrow’s researchers.”
August 26, 2020
Organized by the South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) in collaboration with the National Institute of Biotechnology (NIB) of Bangladesh, this online event was the fifth lecture in the SABP Webinar Series, which aims to build understanding of biosafety among students of biotechnology, i.e., “tomorrow’s researchers.”
July 23, 2020
Organized by the South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) in collaboration with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU), this online event was the fourth lecture in the SABP Webinar Series, which aims to build understanding of biosafety among students of biotechnology, i.e., “tomorrow’s researchers.”
By Invitation Only, via Webcast
July 9, 2020 - July 17, 2020
Supported by a grant from the New Technologies and Production Methods Division at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Trade Policy and Geographic Affairs (TPGA) area, the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute organized this webinar series to discuss the history and opportunities of microbial biotechnology for novel foods.
OECD Working Group on the Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology
Safety Assessment of Transgenic Organisms in the Environment (Volume 8) | June 23, 2018
Volume 8 of the series Safety Assessment of Transgenic Organisms in the Environment contains the first OECD biosafety consensus document to deal with the biology of an insect, the mosquito Aedes aegypti.
Fernández Ríos D, Rubinstein C and Vicién C
Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology | April 5, 2018
The need for functional risk assessment bodies in general, and in the biosafety field in particular, demands continued efforts and commitment from regulatory agencies, if results that are sustainable in time are to be achieved. Dr. Carmen Vicién, Agriculture & Food Systems Institute in-country partner, was a co-author of this paper, which references the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute’s involvement in the Partnership for Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation in Paraguay and the use of Agriculture & Food Systems Institute eLearning courses in Kenya.
Roberts A, Paes de Andrade P, Okumu F, Quemada H, Savadogo M, Singh JA, James S
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene | November 29, 2016
Reducing the incidence of malaria has been a public health priority for nearly a century. However, before new technologies and associated vector control strategies can be developed and exploited, it will be necessary to understand and assess the likelihood of any potential harms to humans or the environment. To begin this process, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute organized an expert workshop to consider the potential risks related to the use of gene drives in Anopheles gambiae for malaria control in Africa.
Dynamic Role and Importance of Surrogate Species for Assessing Potential Adverse Environmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Insect-Resistant Plants on Non-Target Organisms
Wach M, Hellmich R L, Layton R, Romeis J, Gadaleta P G
Transgenic Research | March 1, 2016
Surrogate species have a long history of use in research and regulatory settings to understand the potentially harmful effects of toxic substances including pesticides.
Roberts A F, Devos Y, Lemgo G N, Zhou X
Frontiers in Plant Science | November 10, 2015
RNA interference, or RNAi, refers to a set of biological processes that make use of conserved cellular machinery to silence genes.