User:Wilfred J. Poppinga/Notebook/Wilfreds Project/2009/08/28
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Synthetic biology is currently attracting much interest, probably because some researchers are making exciting claims about the potential applications of synthetic organisms, for which the sky appears to be the limit. Whether these high expectations will ever be met remains questionable. But the fact remains that various organisations have been spurred on to examine this mater in more depth. The House of Representatives has also considered the subject and the environment minister has asked COGEM several questions. The minister has asked COGEM to report, among other topics, on the suitability of the current GMO risk analysis for applications of synthetic biology (particularly synthetic organisms), the monitoring of developments within the research field and the ethical and societal implications of synthetic biology. She has also asked COGEM how government can best facilitate public discussion about this technology.
Modern biotechnology has made it possible to mix genetic materials of very diverse species of organisms, e.g. plant genes in bacteria. This can create accidental side effects not visible as immediate effects. Long term side effects could cause a large scala of problems tanging from allergies to environmental problems like disturbing entire ecosystems. These are frightful scenarios and because of this care should be taken for safety and informing the public in synthetic research.
The legislation around biotechnology in the Netherlands is largely build around European guidelines and decrees. The main subjects in this legislation is to guarantee:
Working with genetically modified organisms (GMO's) in the Netherlands is prohibited without a permit. The Ministry of housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment grants these permits, on grounds of the decree Genetically modified organisms, as it is the primary authority on this subject. The decree Genetically modified organisms is supplemented by the sanction Genetically modified organisms containing specifications for rules, general safety precautions and facility and workrequirement. However the lab facility should also follow the decree for arrangement- and permits environmental management.
All represented in the Interdepartmental consultation Biotechnology, where actual affairs and progress of biotechnological projects are discussed.
Technical-scientific advice on the issues concerning the risks for humans and environment with applicaitons of GMO's is given by The Dutch Committee on Genetic Modification (Cogem) who also gives advice on the safety precautions to take to protect them against those risks. Cogem also gives information on the ethical- and society issues on genetic modification. Cogem already reviewed the Synthetic biology in the Netherlands: Biological machines? Anticipating developments in synthetic biology<i>
University of Groningen
Within the University of Groningen the organization of biological safety, including all activities that are carried out with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is the legal responsibility of the Board of the University of Groningen. The University Board thus acts as the notifier in all GMO-related research where notification is required. The Faculty Boards have been mandated by the Board of the University to implement the rules as set out in the GMO Regulations within their own faculty.
Within the University of Groningen, biological safety is ensured on the central level by a biological safety organization comprising the biological safety officers (BSO) as well as a staff member of the Health, Safety and Environment Service (HSE). The HSE coordinates the notifications, maintains the register and, in cooperation with the BSO, advises the Faculty Boards and the University Board in the field of biological safety. The central organization is complemented on the local level by responsible officers.
BSO officers are appointed by the University Board on the recommendation of the Faculty Boards. In order to be considered for this position, BSO officers must have been approved by the The Ministry of housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment on the basis of the qualifications as set out in the GMO regulations. BSO officers are members of the staff office and can report directly both to the University board and their own faculty.
For each project a responsible officer will be appointed by the University Board on the recommendation of the Faculty Board. This officer is responsible for various aspects, including day-to-day matters concerning the activities involving genetically modified organisms.
Floating metal uptaking bacteria
Floating metaluptaking bacteria in drinking water
<i>Onderzoekers moeten voordat met biotechnologie aan de slag gaan de risico’s in kaart brengen. Dat heet een risicoanalyse. Ze kijken dan naar:
Of een risico aanvaardbaar is, berust in de eerste plaats op de resultaten van dit onderzoek. Daarnaast kunnen zij andere dingen laten meetellen, zoals de voordelen of de gevoelens in de samenleving zijn. Deze overwegingen zijn belangrijk, maar zijn geen deel van het onderzoek. Ze komen pas aan bod na de risicoanalyse. Deze analyse is in de Nederlandse wet opgenomen. Het staat in het Besluit genetisch gemodificeerde organismen.