Biosafety Unit

Trieste, Italy

Biosafety Unit

Trieste, Italy
SEARCH FILTERS
Time filter
Source Type

Nzeduru C.V.,Biosafety Unit | Ronca S.,Aberystwyth University | Wilkinson M.J.,Aberystwyth University | Wilkinson M.J.,University of Adelaide
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Transgenes encoding for insecticidal crystal (Cry) proteins from the soil-dwelling bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis have been widely introduced into Genetically Modified (GM) crops to confer protection against insect pests. Concern that these transgenes may also harm beneficial or otherwise valued insects (so-called Non Target Organisms, NTOs) represents a major element of the Environmental Risk Assessments (ERAs) used by all countries prior to commercial release. Compiling a comprehensive list of potentially susceptible NTOs is therefore a necessary part of an ERA for any Cry toxin-containing GM crop. In partly-characterised and biodiverse countries, NTO identification is slowed by the need for taxonomic expertise and time to enable morphological identifications. This limitation represents a potentially serious barrier to timely adoption of GM technology in some developing countries. We consider Bt Cry1A cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) in Nigeria as an exemplar to demonstrate how COI barcoding can provide a simple and cost-effective means of addressing this problem. Over a period of eight weeks, we collected 163 insects from cowpea flowers across the agroecological and geographic range of the crop in Nigeria. These individuals included 32 Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) spanning four Orders and that could mostly be assigned to genus or species level. They included 12 Lepidopterans and two Coleopterans (both potentially sensitive to different groups of Cry proteins). Thus, barcode-assisted diagnoses were highly harmonised across groups (typically to genus or species level) and so were insensitive to expertise or knowledge gaps. Decisively, the entire study was completed within four months at a cost of less than 10,000 US$. The broader implications of the findings for food security and the capacity for safe adoption of GM technology are briefly explored. © 2012 Nzeduru et al.


PubMed | Biomedica, Biosafety Unit, Princess Sumaya University for Technology, Northwestern University and Knowledge Sector; Royal Scientific Society; Amman
Type: Journal Article | Journal: GM crops & food | Year: 2014

The Cauliflower Mosaic Virus 35S promoter sequence, CaMV P-35S, is one of several commonly used genetic targets to detect genetically modified maize and is found in most GMOs. In this research we report the finding of an alternative P-35S sequence and its incidence in GM maize marketed in Jordan. The primer pair normally used to amplify a 123 bp DNA fragment of the CaMV P-35S promoter in GMOs also amplified a previously undetected alternative sequence of CaMV P-35S in GM maize samples which we term V3. The amplified V3 sequence comprises 386 base pairs and was not found in the standard wild-type maize, MON810 and MON 863 GM maize. The identified GM maize samples carrying the V3 sequence were found free of CaMV when compared with CaMV infected brown mustard sample. The data of sequence alignment analysis of the V3 genetic element showed 90% similarity with the matching P-35S sequence of the cauliflower mosaic virus isolate CabbB-JI and 99% similarity with matching P-35S sequences found in several binary plant vectors, of which the binary vector locus JQ693018 is one example. The current study showed an increase of 44% in the incidence of the identified 386 bp sequence in GM maize sold in Jordans markets during the period 2009 and 2012.


Racovita M.,Biosafety Unit | Obonyo D.N.,UCT | Craig W.,Biosafety Unit | Ripandelli D.,Biosafety Unit
Environmental Evidence | Year: 2014

Background: With a steady increase in the area cultivated with genetically modified (GM) crops, the impacts of GM crop cultivation are coming under closer scrutiny around the world. The impacts on humans usually refer to possible risks to health occurring as a result of the GM food consumption. Other concerns, such as the claims of human health benefits arising from the cultivation of GM crops via reduced use of pesticides could be considered, if at all, under economic impacts of the technology. Similarly, other human health impacts could occur as a result of a modification of the amount of pesticides residues found in underground water, which could be considered under environmental impacts. Yet many GM crops are not consumed on-farm, either because they require processing before becoming edible (such as soya bean, cottonseed and oilseed) or because the entire harvest is sold to maximise profits. It would be certainly difficult to demonstrate the importance of GM foods health effects versus the non-food health effects of GM crop cultivation on farmers. However, the non-food health effects, although apparently receiving less attention, deserve a closer look because of their potential economic and environmental links. Methods/design: The primary research question is: What are the non-food impacts of GM crop cultivation on farmers' health? To address specifically the main research question, the analysis focuses on two related secondary questions: 1) Does the cultivation of GM crops result in a lower number of pesticide-related poisonings? and 2) Does the cultivation of GM crops allow for higher financial resources to be used by farmers to improve their and their family's health status? Further, the review will also evaluate the extent to which information relevant to the two secondary questions is freely-available. The abstracts of non-free articles, alongside their bibliographic details, will be included in a separate table, and if the information supplied would be detailed enough, a summary will be provided. The search and assessment methodologies (especially the search string, inclusion/exclusion criteria, data extraction table, data synthesis and presentation) were adapted following problems overcome, and experience gained, during a scoping search. © 2014 Racovita et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Racovita M.,Biosafety Unit | Racovita M.,Klagenfurt University | Obonyo D.N.,UCT | Craig W.,Biosafety Unit | Ripandelli D.,Biosafety Unit
Environmental Evidence | Year: 2015

Background: Although approved for commercialisation in a number of countries since the 1990s, the potential environmental, human/animal health, and socio-economic impacts of genetically modified (GM) crops are still widely debated. One category of human health impacts (designated in this review as non-food health impacts) focuses on indirect effects of GM crop cultivation; amongst which the most prominent are health benefits via: (1) reduced use of pesticides, and (2) an increase in income. Both of these pathways have raised a lot of interest in the developing world, especially in areas experiencing high rates of pesticide poisonings and low agricultural incomes. However, evidence to support such benefits has been relatively scarce in comparison to that of GM food health impacts. Non-food health impacts of GM crop cultivation on farmers deserve more attention, not just because of an apparent knowledge gap, but also because of, potential economic and environmental implications, involving for example CO2 emissions, underground water contamination and improved sanitation. Methods/Design: The primary research question was: What are the non-food impacts of GM crop cultivation on farmers' health? To address this primary question, the study focused on two related secondary questions: (1) Does the cultivation of GM crops result in a lower number of pesticide-related poisonings as compared to the cultivation of their non-GM counterparts?, and; (2) Does the cultivation of GM crops allow for higher financial resources to be used by farmers to improve the health status of themselves and their family, as compared to the cultivation of the non-GM counterpart? The extent to which information relevant to the two secondary questions was freely-available was also evaluated. The search and assessment methodologies were adapted following experience gained during a scoping exercise, and followed the published protocol. Results: The 20 databases and 10 reviews searched returned 4,870 hits, with 19 identified as relevant for data extraction. It was apparent that the 19 articles were derived from only 9 original studies, of which 7 were relevant to the first research question, whilst the remaining 2 were relevant to the second question. The studies showed both an overall decrease in the amount of pesticides applied and an increase in household income from GM crop cultivation as compared to the cultivation of the non-GM counterpart. Conclusion: In the absence of additional confounding variables or statistical analyses to support these findings, any correlation from these studies should be considered circumstantial at best. Even though the cultivation of GM crops appears to increase household income, evidence to demonstrate that farmers invested this extra income in improving their health remained inconclusive. Further research is therefore needed to clarify the possible correlation between GM crop cultivation and (1) pesticide poisonings, and (2) overall health improvements. Future impact evaluations should include: both written records and surveys; statistical correlations between independent and dependent variables; testing the characteristics of the samples for statistical significance to indicate their representativeness of a particular population, and; increasing the importance of confounding variables in research design (by identifying specific variables and selecting sample and control groups accordingly). © 2015 Racovita et al.


In tackling agricultural challenges, policy-makers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have increasingly considered genetically modified (GM) crops as a potential tool to increase productivity and to improve product quality. Yet, as elsewhere in the world, the adoption of GM crops in SSA has been marked by controversy, encompassing not only the potential risks to animal and human health, and to the environment, but also other concerns such as ethical issues, public participation in decision-making, socio-economic factors and intellectual property rights. With these non-scientific factors complicating an already controversial situation, disseminating credible information to the public as well as facilitating stakeholder input into decision-making is essential. In SSA, there are various and innovative risk communication approaches and strategies being developed, yet a comprehensive analysis of such data is missing. This gap is addressed by giving an overview of current strategies, identifying similarities and differences between various country and institutional approaches and promoting a way forward, building on a recent workshop with risk communicators working in SSA.


Araya-Quesada M.,Biosafety Unit | Degrassi G.,Biosafety Unit | Ripandelli D.,Biosafety Unit | Craig W.,Biosafety Unit
Environmental Biosafety Research | Year: 2010

In recent times, it has become imperative for countries to define and implement policy in biosafety due to the widespread adoption of genetically modified crops. As such, countries wishing to utilise transgenic technologies in the development of advanced agricultural products must have regulations in place coupled with trained personnel in national competent authorities able to contribute effectively to the decision-making process. Capacity building initiatives play an important role in supporting such individuals, institutions and governmental authorities by providing training and/or physical structures/equipment and technical assistance. There are many types of capacity building activities; however not all have the same relevance in different regions of the world. For capacity building to be effective, a strategic approach incorporating a variety of forms and disciplines is desired. This commentary discusses the importance of factors such as: the targeting of support to relevant beneficiary(ies); the identification of specific needs and the incorporation of socio-economic conditions when elaborating effective strategies designed to help building capacity. Moreover, the importance of interaction and collaboration amongst the various capacity builders is also discussed such that unnecessary duplication of efforts and best use of available human and economic resources results. © ISBR, EDP Sciences, 2010.


Araya-Quesada M.,Biosafety Unit | Craig W.,Biosafety Unit | Ripandelli D.,Biosafety Unit
AgBioForum | Year: 2012

Biotechnology has the potential to help improve food production in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), a continent where agriculture plays a dominant role in peoples' lives and in trade. It is therefore critical that recombinant DNA (rDNA) biotechnology is regulated in such a manner as to capture its benefits and to minimize any potential risks. In order to best understand biosafety needs in LAC, an email-based stakeholder consultation was carried out, augmented by personal communications with well-informed respondents, and integrated into a desktop study incorporating information from recent peer-reviewed literature. The resultant qualitative study tracked developments in rDNA biotechnology and biosafety in the region and reviewed regulatory capacity as well as the legacies of previous capacity-building projects in these areas to culminate in a snapshot of the present situation. It demonstrated that approximately half of the 31 countries represented in the study are not carrying out any domestic research and development on genetically modified organisms (GMOs); furthermore, the majority have not developed GM products beyond the proof-of-concept stage. Only 58% of the study countries appear to have operational biosafety regulatory systems in place. Acknowledging that methods of delivering capacity building should be tailored to specific demand-driven needs, the study identified possible knowledge and expertise gaps in the region, to be used as a basis for possible training and/or support interventions. ©2012 AgBioForum.


PubMed | Biosafety Unit
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2012

Transgenes encoding for insecticidal crystal (Cry) proteins from the soil-dwelling bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis have been widely introduced into Genetically Modified (GM) crops to confer protection against insect pests. Concern that these transgenes may also harm beneficial or otherwise valued insects (so-called Non Target Organisms, NTOs) represents a major element of the Environmental Risk Assessments (ERAs) used by all countries prior to commercial release. Compiling a comprehensive list of potentially susceptible NTOs is therefore a necessary part of an ERA for any Cry toxin-containing GM crop. In partly-characterised and biodiverse countries, NTO identification is slowed by the need for taxonomic expertise and time to enable morphological identifications. This limitation represents a potentially serious barrier to timely adoption of GM technology in some developing countries. We consider Bt Cry1A cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) in Nigeria as an exemplar to demonstrate how COI barcoding can provide a simple and cost-effective means of addressing this problem. Over a period of eight weeks, we collected 163 insects from cowpea flowers across the agroecological and geographic range of the crop in Nigeria. These individuals included 32 Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) spanning four Orders and that could mostly be assigned to genus or species level. They included 12 Lepidopterans and two Coleopterans (both potentially sensitive to different groups of Cry proteins). Thus, barcode-assisted diagnoses were highly harmonised across groups (typically to genus or species level) and so were insensitive to expertise or knowledge gaps. Decisively, the entire study was completed within four months at a cost of less than 10,000 US$. The broader implications of the findings for food security and the capacity for safe adoption of GM technology are briefly explored.


PubMed | Biosafety Unit
Type: Journal Article | Journal: GM crops & food | Year: 2013

In tackling agricultural challenges, policy-makers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have increasingly considered genetically modified (GM) crops as a potential tool to increase productivity and to improve product quality. Yet, as elsewhere in the world, the adoption of GM crops in SSA has been marked by controversy, encompassing not only the potential risks to animal and human health, and to the environment, but also other concerns such as ethical issues, public participation in decision-making, socio-economic factors and intellectual property rights. With these non-scientific factors complicating an already controversial situation, disseminating credible information to the public as well as facilitating stakeholder input into decision-making is essential. In SSA, there are various and innovative risk communication approaches and strategies being developed, yet a comprehensive analysis of such data is missing. This gap is addressed by giving an overview of current strategies, identifying similarities and differences between various country and institutional approaches and promoting a way forward, building on a recent workshop with risk communicators working in SSA.


PubMed | Biosafety Unit
Type: | Journal: International journal of microbiology | Year: 2012

Aflatoxins are potent carcinogens and produced by almost all Aspergillus parasiticus isolates and about 35% of Aspergillus flavus isolates. Chemical methods are used for detection of aflatoxins in food and feed. These methods cannot detect aflatoxinogenic fungi in samples, which contain undetectable amounts of aflatoxins. The objective of this research work was to ascertain the importance of molecular and microbiological methods in detection of aflatoxinogenic fungus A. parasiticus in food and feed samples in Jordan. Specific media for the detection of aflatoxins showed the prevalence of A. parasiticus (6-22%) in contaminated food and feed samples. HPLC method confirmed the presence of aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, and G2 in food sample contaminated with A. parasiticus. Primer set OmtBII-F and OmtBII-R amplified DNA fragment of 611 base pairs from genomic DNA of aflatoxinogenic A. parasiticus isolated from food and feed samples but could not amplify DNA fragment of nonaflatoxinogenic A. flavus. The results of this study showed the prevalence of aflatoxinogenic A. parasiticus in food and feed samples in Jordan and give further evidence of suitability of microbiological and molecular methods in detection of aflatoxins, which are reliable low-cost approach to determine food and feed biosafety.

Loading Biosafety Unit collaborators
Loading Biosafety Unit collaborators