New GE Technologies
New genetic engineering techniques are emerging from the laboratory, generally categorized as so-called « New Breeding Techniques » or Synthetic Biology. There is a global debate raging over the regulation of these new techniques.
Briefing: Genetic Engineering in Plants and the “New Breeding Techniques (NBTs)”: Inherent risks and the need to regulate, EcoNexus, December 2015.
Article: What’s a GMO? Janet Cotter, 2016
Synthetic biology is a form of extreme genetic engineering. It is an emerging technology that is developing quickly yet remains largely unregulated. With synthetic biology, instead of swapping existing genes from one species to another (as is done through rDNA technology/genetic engineering), scientists can write entirely new genetic codes on a computer, “print” them out and insert them into living organisms. Scientists are even trying to create life from scratch.
Artificial DNA is engineered into living things to fundamentally change their character. Nobody knows how to asses synthetic organisms for safety and, until now, governments and companies have refrained from releasing these organisms into the environment because they may threaten the natural world.
Companies have commercialized several products already, including a vanilla substitute grown by synthetically modified yeast, a coconut oil replacement produced by engineered algae, and engineered versions of patchouli and vetiver fragrances.
The main distinction between gene driven organisms and most GMO crops is that gene drive organisms are explicitly designed to live and reproduce in the wild. Read Gene Drives: A Scientific Case for a Complete and Perpetual Ban
Nanotechnology refers to the manipulation of matter on the scale of the nanometer (one billionth of a meter). Nanoscale science operates in the realm of single atoms and molecules. Click here for information on nanotechnology.