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: Biosafety Regulatory Requirements in Agricultural Biotechnology

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.”

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SABP Webinar Series: Biosafety Guidelines in Biotechnology Research & Development

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.”

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SABP Webinar Series: Biosafety at Every Step of Plant Biotechnology Research

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.”

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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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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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The Partnership for Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation: Project Summary

View the summary document of the Partnership for Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation. 

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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

The low-level presence (LLP) of genetically engineered (GE) seeds that have been approved in the country of origin but not the country of import presents challenges for regulators in both seed importing and exporting countries, as well as for the international seed trade and the farmers who rely on it.

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The Partnership for Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation: External Evaluation

The Partnership for Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation (PBRAR) is one of the few biotechnology and biosafety programs that has successfully created bridges between the agricultural sector and the environmental sector.  Strong program leadership by the Director of the Center for Environmental Risk Assessment and senior technical and communications staff leading the PBRAR’s various activities contributed to the success of the program. Read this evaluation report from Dr. Gabrielle Persley about the program.

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Transportability of Confined Field Trial Data for Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Engineered Plants: A Conceptual Framework

It is commonly held that confined field trials (CFTs) used to evaluate the potential adverse environmental impacts of a genetically engineered (GE) plant should be conducted in each country where cultivation is intended, even when relevant and potentially sufficient data are already available from studies conducted elsewhere.

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