Document Type



bioethics, biotechnology, genetic engineering, microorganisms, public policy


This presentation raises questions of research needs and issues. Underlying assumptions are that only beneficial or useful microorganisms will be "released"; that extensive laboratory and contained experiments will have been done prior to introduction and live microorganisms can be confined within the areas of introduction. Evidence to support these assertions will be presented. Critical needs for progress in this area include: 1) Recognition that the nature of the product introduced into the environment is of primary significance, not how the organism was genetically altered or modified. 2) Recognition that microorganisms are introduced into the environment as part of our daily lives. 3) Classification of microorganisms into categories, include a GRACE (Generally Regarded as Compatible with the Environment) list. For example, most microorganisms used by humans in food and agriculture would be on such a list. 4) Categorization of "new" traits transferred to microorganisms: all are not equal. 5) Revision of the Plant Pest Act. Interpretation by the USDA is now so broad that almost any microorganisms may be a "plant pest". 6) Development of the means to enable continuation of basic research in small-scale traditional tests with GEMs. 7) Recognition of the adequacy of the methods used for mitigation and decontamination of microorganisms. 8) Development and use of selective, narrow spectrum chemicals and biologicals. 9) Critical evaluation of appropriate regulations and attendant costs for research on GEMs in the environment. These issues need recognition and wide-spread support among scientists, policy-makers and the public if the potential uses for microorganisms in the environment are to be realized.

Publication Date

June 1989

Journal Title

Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science





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© Copyright 1989 by the Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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