Environmental hazards of genetic engineering

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Photo: Riku Lumiaro

The Ministry of the Environment aims to prevent and combat the environmental damage caused by the use of genetically modified organisms. Genetic engineering applications are generating new kinds of environmental hazards and ethical problems. From the viewpoint of environmental protection, key concerns include the spread of introduced genes to other organisms, and changes in the diversity of biotic communities.

Genetic engineering is a form of biotechnology which allows the genotypes of plants, animals and microorganisms to be modified in a way not possible in nature. For example, transplanting genes from one organism to another enables the production of pesticide-resistant plants, of rapidly-growing fish and of bacteria which degrade poisonous compounds.

The use of genetic engineering is regulated by the Gene Technology Act. The act has been amended by several decrees.

Control of the use of genetic engineering

The Ministry of the Environment directs and supervises compliance with legislation governing gene technology, in order to prevent and combat environmental damage.

The Finnish Environment Institute monitors the environmental impacts of the intentional distribution of genetically modified organisms within the environment. It also assesses the environmental risks posed by the use of genetically modified organisms and promotes research into developing the assessment of environmental risks.

The Board for Gene Technology directs and integrates the supervision of genetic engineering in Finland. The Ministry of the Environment has a representative on the Board.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health directs and supervises the use of genetic engineering in general, particularly in the context of health-related issues.

 

Published 2014-07-29 at 14:14, updated 2016-05-24 at 10:29