Biotechnology uses animals, plants, bacteria or other living creatures for the development of medicines, food or new substances such as bioplastics and sustainable biofuels. Biotechnology applications are permitted only if they do not pose a risk to human health and the environment. Ethical objections are taken into account. Moreover, you also need a permit. Safety is thus guaranteed. However, biotechnology is increasingly being combined with other technologies, such as nanotechnology. What this means in terms of safety is mostly still unknown. That is precisely why it is important to go for options that are safe for human health and the environment in the development phase: Safe-by-Design.

Safety as an integral theme
The development of biotechnology has gained momentum. This was demonstrated by, among other things, the Biotechnology 2016 Trend Analysis "Regulatory Disruption". The government believes that there should be room to exploit the opportunities of these developments, provided that safety is embedded as an integral theme. New biotechnological developments can after all be accompanied by new kinds of risks.

In the light of the modernisation of biotechnology policy, the "Biotechnology and Safety" research programme of the NWO domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (TTW) was initiated and funded. Safe-by-Design also plays an important role in various other projects. With the help of RIVM, we want to explore via the OECD how Safe-by-Design can contribute to safe new technological developments using biotechnology.

The SafeChassis example: new, safer micro-organisms
The SafeChassis project of Wageningen University & Research applies Safe-by-Design to synthetic biology, a branch of modern biotechnology in which micro-organisms can be drastically redesigned. The SafeChassis researchers are working on modifying the Pseudomonas putida bacterium to make the organism synthesize different products, from biofuels to pharmaceuticals. Possible safety risks are avoided by redesigning the organism in such a way that it can only survive under certain controlled conditions.

More information
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