Environmentalists and medical professionals argue the deliberate release of GEOs in the nature. They say that, though beneficial today, GEOs will be a source of threat to the existence of man and animals on the earth. Hence scientists have decided to assess the possible risks, the GEO will produce before releasing the GEO. The process of assessing possible risks of GEOs is called risk assessment or risk evaluation.
During risk evaluation, great emphasis is given to the safety of the environment. So environmental hazards will be low in the future.
Possible Dangers of GEOs
The antibiotic resistance gene of GEOs may once go to a pathogenic bacterium that causes disease in man and domestic animals. If it is so, the diseases cannot be cured with antibiotics being used today.
The Bt gene of transgenic plant may be get transferred to its wild relatives and weeds. If so, the pest population as a whole will be eliminated from the area. In ecological point of view, the pests too play some role in the environment for its sustainability. So the complete elimination of a species is unlikely.
The Bt gene of GEOs may go to the intestinal bacteria by transformation cause illness to human health. This is not a beneficial event.
The GMOs may escape from the laboratory and exchange their genetic material with some pathogenic microbes. If it happens, mild pathogens may become deadly pathogenic ones.
If transgenic plants are exploited continuously in a habitat, the other varieties will be left out. Single unique species in an area may result in severe disease epidemics and crop loss.
Native organisms get disturbed and eliminated due to exploitation of GEOs. This is harmful to ecological imbalance of habitats.
The altered nutritive products of transgenic plants may cause allergy to man during consumption.
It is feared that healthcare products from GEOs may cause side effects to the consumers.
In GMOs may exchange their altered genes with their parent genotypes and wild relatives. If so, it will disturb the genetic make up of the plants.
GMOs made from mild pathogens may cause diseases in sensitive species.
The safety measures which prevent the escaping of GEOs from the laboratory are called containments. They help to destroy harmful GEOs with in the laboratory itself. Hence there is no chance for the microbes to come out of the laboratory.
The physical methods being adopted inside the laboratories to prevent escaping of GEOs to the environment are collectively called physical containment. The physical containment includes air filtration, sterilization lights, waste disposal and protective handling.
Air Filtration: The exhaust air from the laboratory is filtered through exhaust filters. It prevents the escaping of GEOs from the laboratory.
Sterilization Lights: Fluorescent tube lights which emit UV light are fitted in the laboratory to sterilize the work areas and exposed surfaces to the laboratory. This technique destroys microbial containments inside the laboratory.
Waste Disposal: All wastes coming from the laboratory are sterilized by autoclaving or by incinerating them in an incinerator. This will prevent the escaping of contaminated wastes from the laboratory.
Protective handling: The persons should have sound knowledge and training in handling microbes and other lethal agents.
They must wear protective clothing before entering the work-area, and must throw them while leaving the laboratory.
Access into the laboratory should be minimized to a great extent as much as possible.
Biological principles being followed in laboratories to prevent the escaping of GEOs or microbes are called biological containment. It makes the organisms to survive in the outside environment. Further, it prevents the spreading of vector DNAs to the organisms outside the laboratory by usual conjugation, transformation and transduction.
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