Genetically engineered micro-organisms and viruses

Genetically engineered bacteria are now being used to produce enzymes and vitamins for the food industry. There have already been several reported cases of genetically engineered bacteria contaminating food production processes, and thus putting food safety at risk. Applications of genetically engineered (GE) micro-organisms are set to become more widely used in future: for example, it is assumed that GE soil bacteria could be used to increase harvests. There have even been suggestions that GE gut bacteria could enhance the resistance of honey bees to pesticides. Molecules produced by GE micro-organisms could be used to change the characteristics of plants and animals (paratransgenesis). GE viruses could be used to alter food plants directly in the fields. Such potential applications would pose huge risks for the environment.

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