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Environmental biotechnology


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Biosafety is a very broad term. It includes all measures that should prevent or decrease risk connected with any biological agents. In a classical form it comprises technical (e.g., flow box) and/or organisation (e.g., education of personnel) means to protect human health when handling dangerous organisms (e.g., pathogens). In the EU it was implemented by the directive ”On the protection of workers from risk related to exposure to biological agents at work” (1990).

With the introduction of recombinant DNA techniques (genetic engineering, genetic modification) in the middle of seventies of the last century similar precautions were applied in this field. First they were of a voluntary or recommended character (Asilomar conference in USA, Ashby group in UK), later in the Eu they became obligatory by legislation (Directives, Regulation). With the introduction of biotechnology in agriculture, biosafety was extended to the risk to the environment and to the biodiversity. Within the frame of UNEP (UN Environmental Programme) biosafety was implemented by a protocol to CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) known as the Cartagena Protocol.

In the Czech Republic a voluntary Committee was formed immediately after the first EU directives occurred (1990). After the Czech Ministry of Environment was designed as a competent authority for genetic modification, this Committee started to prepare the scientific background for the GMO law that came to power in 1999. In following years the law was fully harmonised with EU legislation and Cartagena Protocol.

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