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Schmidt M.,Organisation for International Dialogue and Conflict Management
BioEssays | Year: 2010

Synthetic biologists try to engineer useful biological systems that do not exist in nature. One of their goals is to design an orthogonal chromosome different from DNA and RNA, termed XNA for xeno nucleic acids. XNA exhibits a variety of structural chemical changes relative to its natural counterparts. These changes make this novel information-storing biopolymer "invisible" to natural biological systems. The lack of cognition to the natural world, however, is seen as an opportunity to implement a genetic firewall that impedes exchange of genetic information with the natural world, which means it could be the ultimate biosafety tool. Here I discuss, why it is necessary to go ahead designing xenobiological systems like XNA and its XNA binding proteins; what the biosafety specifications should look like for this genetic enclave; which steps should be carried out to boot up the first XNA life form; and what it means for the society at large. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: ENV.2007. | Award Amount: 615.51K | Year: 2008

Sustainable development is closely linked to the issues of Environment and Energy and their interdependencies. Sustainable economic growth and social development are only possible if secure, constant and equal access to energy sources is guaranteed. However, intensive energy use is likely to present serious implications for the environment and the climate. Especially in developing countries, promotion of sustainable energy options is necessary to tackle these challenges. In Africa, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have been particularly active in addressing sustainable development and energy management within the last 15 years. While presenting important representatives for social needs and concerns, their effective impact on research policy agenda setting has however been considerably low yet. In line with the EUs commitments to strengthening civil participation and to promoting a global approach to the issue of sustainable development, SustainergyNet aims at promoting the engagement of CSOs in Africa in the field of research policy agenda setting concerning sustainable and efficient energy management. In this perspective, the project will elaborate and suggest ways on how to encourage and facilitate the cooperation between CSOs and RTD performers. This will be based on the assessment of current settings and frameworks that already exist, the formulation of recommendations and best practices and the presentation of a specific facility (CSO Involvement Net) that shall support CSOs towards actively contributing to research and policy processes.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-CSO | Phase: ENV.2011.4.2.3-1 | Award Amount: 2.25M | Year: 2011

The CiVi.net project aims to analyse, transfer and disseminate successful and sustainable community based solutions with regard to ecosystem service management in Latin America. The main focus is placed on institutional settings in terms of original rules and related governance models which help to prevent and resolve tensions arising from a necessary new repartition and use of natural resources. Thereby, the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) within these governance models is in the core of the research. To meet these challenges, CiVi.net takes an action research and case study approach. The project has chosen four case study regions in Brazil and Costa Rica where successful solutions have been worked out. These will be analysed with respect to the following questions: - What kinds of management instruments are used to solve environmental problems and how effective are they? - What kinds of original rules and institutional arrangements are implemented and which economic governance models have been established? - What crucial aspects must be considered when transferring these solutions to other communities that face similar problems? - What is the capacity of CSOs and their networks for contributing to finding, implementing and transferring such solutions? Based on the findings, CiVi.net wants to facilitate the transfer of successful solutions to at least one other community for each selected case study region confronted with similar environmental challenges. To do so, CiVi.net will develop an ex-ante assessment approach to test the transferability of institutional solutions and of successful governance models. One of the final outputs will be a manual to assist practitioners and scientists on how to design and manage the knowledge transfer. CiVi.net will put much emphasis on the dissemination of the produced knowledge. Thus, another of its final outputs will be an innovative web-based data portal for providing and trading knowledge.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: KBBE-2007-3-3-01 | Award Amount: 1.23M | Year: 2008

Synthetic Biology-SB- deals with rational combination of biological properties with central elements of engineering design. By merging the genetic tool box already available with engineering disciplines & computer sciences there is a great opportunity for a new approach to environmental pollution problems through application of modelling techniques & organizing development of novel biological systems across a hierarchical architecture with defined & standardized interfaces. However this faces 3 major bottlenecks: -The scientific & technical European contributors on SB have so far failed to recognise their latent capacity to shape a fresh discipline at their very interface -SB still lacks a comprehensive language & shared conceptual frame for the description of minimally functional biological parts -The development of SB touches on social sensitivities related to recreating life-in-the-test-tube which threatens to re-awaken the GMO controversy. Thus scaring off the necessary industrial input in the field. To tackle these challenges, we propose a 2-year program run by a large expert group to coordinate the fragmented efforts & direct this discipline into the most industrially beneficial and socially viable directions. We aim to energise and mobilise the European scientific, technical & social professionals to empower a new capacity to exploit properties present in Biological systems for environmental issues. TARPOL will recruit the required environmental competences from neighbouring disciplines and will set up a number of material and computational resources for advanced refactoring of biological systems. We will establish a frame consensus for procedure and parts standardization and pursue the awareness and eventual insertion of SB into the Environmental Biotechnology context by exploring its industrial interface. Finally, we will pursue the establishment of a solid European Research Agenda on SB-for-Environment at the service of implementing the KBBE vision

Pei L.,Organisation for International Dialogue and Conflict Management | Schmidt M.,Organisation for International Dialogue and Conflict Management | Wei W.,CAS Institute of Botany
Biochemist | Year: 2011

Synthetic biology (SB) is an emerging research field in China with growing interest from the scientific community and (to a much lesser extent) from the public. This interest is not only in the research itself, but also in the societal issues. This article presents the results of interviews with 20 Chinese scholars and looks at the current research activities of SB and the related ethical, legal and social implication (ELSI) studies. © 2011 The Biochemical Society.

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