• Biosafety: prevention of large-scale loss of biological integrity, focusing both on ecology and human health.
  • Biosafety is related to several fields
  • In ecology (referring to imported life forms from beyond ecoregion borders),
  • In agriculture (reducing the risk of alien viral or transgenic genes, or prions such as BSE/"MadCow", reducing the risk of food bacterial contamination)
  • In medicine (referring to organs or tissues from biological origin, or genetic therapy products, virus; levels of lab containment protocols measured as 1, 2, 3, 4 in rising order of danger),
  • In chemistry (i.e., nitrates in water, PCB levels affecting fertility) and
  • In exobiology (i.e., NASA's policy for containing alien microbes that may exist on space samples - sometimes called "biosafety level 5").
  • The international Biosafety Protocol deals primarily with the agricultural definition but many advocacy groups seek to expand it to include post-genetic threats: new molecules, artificial life forms, and even robots which may compete directly in the natural food chain.
  • Biosafety in agriculture, chemistry, medicine, and exobiology and beyond will likely require application of the precautionary principle, and a new definition focused on the biological nature of the threatened organism rather than the nature of the threat.
  • When biological warfare or new, currently hypothetical, threats (i.e., robots, new artificial bacteria) are considered, biosafety precautions are generally not sufficient. The new field of biosecurity addresses these complex threats.
  • Biosafety level refers to the stringency of biocontainment precautions deemed necessary by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for laboratory work with infectious materials.

Last modified: Monday, 2 April 2012, 11:10 PM