Research area: Risk- and technology assessment in the field of bio- and nanotechnology
Contact: Dr. Bernd Giese BOKU Forschungsservice
Using an approach of Prospective Technology Assessment, emerging technologies and innovations in the fields of genetic engineering, synthetic biology and nanotechnology are being investigated.
In the course of this work the functionalities relevant for the use, exposure and hazard potential of products, processes or new entities are important for an early assessment of risks and benefits. For this purpose, it is necessary to develop indicators that allow an early assessment of the relevant properties of the investigated technologies in the application context. On this basis, recommendations for risk-reducing design and regulation are formulated. When attempting to characterize the technologies early on, in addition to risk analyses, an assessment of the objectives and visions pursued, the application potentials, real possibilities and unrealistic promises are necessary. The aim is also to identify alternative development paths and thereby further options for risk minimization.
Genome Editing and Gene-Drives
Due to the currently discussed concrete applications of advanced genetic engineering methods of genome editing, the study of gene drive systems is a priority. Genetically engineered gene drives can spread genetic traits in populations faster than Mendel’s heredity rules would allow and are therefore considered to be a potential trigger for so-called ‘mutagenic chain reactions’ in wild populations. The risks and consequences of this potentially very powerful technology must be investigated before any gene drive is released.
Research in the field of nanotechnology and related areas is based primarily on life-cycle modeling, which provides information on the emission of engineered material and enables an estimate of its expected environmental concentrations and the associated risks for organisms.
All approaches in the field of biotechnology and nanotechnology are oriented towards the development of criteria for a sustainable technology design in line with the precautionary principle.