BRIEFING PAPER No.2
WARNING ON CONTAINED USE
Current regulatory guidelines on contained use of GEMs are grossly inadequate, and may have contributed to the extensive horizontal transfer and recombination of virulence and antibiotic resistance genes involved in the recent resurgence of infectious diseases.
A science-based risk assessment would take into account the most comprehensive and up-to-date scientific findings. The transboundary movement of GEMs intended for contained use in commercial plants must be covered by the Biosafety Protocol.
The world is heading for a major crisis in public health in the escalated emergence of drug and antibiotic resistant infectious diseases since commercial scale genetic engineering biotechnology began in the early 1980s.
The evolution of virulence and the spread of drug and antibiotic resistances are now linked to the extensive horizontal gene transfer and recombination events among bacteria and viruses, many of which may have occurred in recent years.
The entire orientation of genetic engineering is to enhance horizontal gene transfer and to break down species barriers.
Current guidelines are based on old assumptions which have been overturned by recent scientific findings.
There is a current attempt to relax the guidelines on contained use of GEMs in the European Union. This is an irresponsible move in the light of current scientific knowledge.
* Forthcoming Third World Network Report