ARCHIVE: Genetically modified microbes and viruses
Viruses are infectious organisms that are simpler than a single animal or plant cell. Viruses can only replicate within host cells (animal, microbial or plant) which they require for their survival.
What are microbes?
Microbes, or Micro-organisms, are very small, single celled organisms such as bacteria, protozoa and fungi. They carry sufficient genetic information to support their own replication and reproduction.
What are the main applications of microbes and viruses?
GM microbes are being developed in several fields, including:
- Medicine - in the production of therapeutic medicines and novel GM vaccines and gene therapy
- Bioremediation - the use of microbes to clean up pollution
What is the government's position on GM microbes and viruses?
The government has an open mind about GM microbes and viruses. Its first priority is to protect human health and the environment. The Government is pro-science and pro-consumer choice.
How are GM microbes and viruses regulated?
GM microbes and viruses are controlled in the same way as other GMOs (see the Regulation and Control pages), unless they are being approved for marketing for use in human and/or veterinary medicine.
How are GM medicines regulated?
If a clinical trial of a medicine involves a release to the environment of a GMO then it is controlled as described in our regulation and control pages for a 'part B' release. Marketing approval for GM medicines and vaccines is regulated by the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medical Products (EMEA). The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) advises on the risk to human health and the environment from these marketing applications, comments are forwarded to the EMEA
What GM microbes and viruses have been released?
Please see the Applications and Release Information pages for current information on what GMOs that have been licensed for release.
Page published 31 October 2003;
Page last modified 30 December, 2009