Objective

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

Current Actvity

The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute's active programs related to environmental risk assessment (ERA) include:

Data Transportability for Field Trial Research

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.

ERA for the Use of Gene Drive

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.

Past Work

The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute's concluded projects in the area of environmental risk assessment include:

Resources

Newsletter

Find out about the work we are doing by reading our monthly newsletter.

eLearning

The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute has developed eLearning courses that focus on environmental risk assessment.

SABP Webinar Series: GM Crop Research and Biosafety Go Hand in Hand

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.”

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Microbial Biotechnology for Novel Foods Webinar Series

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.

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SABP Webinar Series: Biosafety in Agriculture Biotechnology – In the Eyes of Future Researchers

Organized by the South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) in collaboration with Dhaka University, this online event was the third lecture in the SABP Webinar Series, which aims to build understanding of biosafety among students of biotechnology⁠, i.e., “tomorrow’s researchers.”

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SABP Webinar Series: Biosafety in Crop Biotechnology Research

Organized by the South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) in collaboration with Jahangirnagar University, Savar, this online event was the second lecture in the SABP Webinar Series, which aims to build understanding of biosafety among students of biotechnology⁠, i.e., “tomorrow’s researchers.”

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SABP Webinar Series: Biosafety in Agricultural Biotechnology Research

Organized by the South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) in collaboration with Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, this online event was the first lecture in the SABP Webinar Series, which aims to build understanding of biosafety among students of biotechnology⁠, i.e., “tomorrow’s researchers.”

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Capacities for the Risk Assessment of GMOs: Challenges to Build Sustainable Systems

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.

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Results from the Workshop “Problem Formulation for the Use of Gene Drive in Mosquitoes”

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.

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Dynamic Role and Importance of Surrogate Species for Assessing Potential Adverse Environmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Insect-Resistant Plants on Non-Target Organisms

Surrogate species have a long history of use in research and regulatory settings to understand the potentially harmful effects of toxic substances including pesticides.

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Biosafety Research for Non-target Organism Risk Assessment of RNAi-based GE Plants

RNA interference, or RNAi, refers to a set of biological processes that make use of conserved cellular machinery to silence genes.

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Criterios propuestos para identificar cultivos genéticamente modificados que presentan un riesgo bajo o insignificante para el ambiente en condiciones de baja presencia en semillas

This article is the Spanish translation of “Proposed Criteria for Identifying GE Crop Plants That Pose a Low or Negligible Risk to the Environment Under Conditions of Low-Level Presence in Seed,” which appeared in Transgenic Research.

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