Algae and genetic modification. Research, production and risks
Algae are a promising source of biofuels and viewed as a possible alternative for fuels and products from the petrochemical industry. Using genetic modification (GM), the productivity of these organisms can be increased or the composition of expected products can be enhanced. A number of companies and research institutions, mainly outside Europe, have been working on the genetic modification of algae. It is expected that these developments will eventually also occur in Europe and the Netherlands.
To date the COGEM has gained much experience and knowledge in the field of GM plants and GM microorganisms. However, the knowledge in relation to GM algae is still rather limited. For that reason the COGEM commissioned a researchproject to provide an overview of the elements that are important for the environmental risk analysis of GM algae.
Based on this research, the COGEM signals that, in addition to research into optimization of production, more research should be done that is supportive to the environmental risk assessment. This applies to research on the appropriate classification and taxonomy of algae and the possible biological containment measures. Also research into the possible symbiotic relationships between algae and micro-organisms is of importance.