Biosafety: An International Short Course in Environmental Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology

Biosafety group 2014Course Dates: August 3 – 8, 2014

Application deadline: July 15, 2014

Organized by: Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Collaboration with the Plant Breeding and Genetics Program

biosafety frontDownload the Brochure (.pdf)
Dowload the Registration Form (.doc)

Course Rationale

New and emerging tools of biotechnology offer significant opportunities to enhance agricultural productivity, food and nutritional security and environmental quality worldwide. The use, deployment and importation of biotechnology products however, have raised a number of regulatory issues related to risk/benefit analysis associated with biodiversity, environment and human and animal health. The issue of environmental and food safety risk-assessment and management becomes increasingly critical as we move along the development continuum from laboratory research to field trials and large scale commercial release of biotechnology crops and products.

To ensure benefits are maximized while minimizing risks, nations at all levels are addressing the environmental and health aspects by implementing biosafety laws and guidelines for the safe use of genetic engineering and its products. It is imperative that scientists, regulators (members of national and institutional biosafety committees and plant quarantine officers) and decision-makers have the science-based skills, and resources required to appropriately evaluate the biosafety issues inherent in the release of a genetically engineered organism into the environment. We believe that education and awareness on the environmental biosafety aspects of agricultural biotechnology will assist these stakeholders make informed decisions on genetically engineered organisms.

Course Description

The Biosafety short course is designed to provide participants a thorough grounding in all aspects of biosafety for environmental release and commercialization of genetically engineered crops. The course covers theory and practice of environmental risk assessment and management, and communication of benefits and risks of agricultural biotechnology applications. A major component of the course will provide practical experience in biosafety decision-making though real-world case studies covering a diverse group of crop, traits and location concerns.

A comprehensive information packet and course materials will be provided to the participants. The knowledge, information, and experience gained through this course will help participants effectively contribute towards the development of biotechnology crops and products that are environmentally sound and safe to use. In addition, using a participatory approach, the course will foster linkages and provide opportunities for networking among participants to exchange their experiences and establish regional collaborations.

Course Components

  • Environmental issues associated with agriculture
  • Environmental and food safety issues associate with GE crops
  • Biosafety considerations during the development of GE crops – laboratory and greenhouse testing stage
  • Biosafety considerations during the development of GE crops – Confined field trial stage
  • Biosafety considerations during the development of GE crops beyond the field trial stage (gene flow and effects on non-target organisms)
  • Biosafety considerations after commercialization of GE crops (managing the development of re-sistant pests and emergence of secondary pests)
  • GE crops in the horizon
  • Visits to transgenic field trials and farmers growing GE crops
  • Biosafety regulatory frameworks, international treaties and agreements
  • Economics of biosafety
  • Components of biosafety regulatory packages
  • Biosafety benefit/risk communication

Our Competency and Expertise

Course instructors are drawn from representative sectors of the agricultural and environmental biotechnology community, including research scientists from various MSU departments, other universities, private companies, regulatory officials from state and federal agencies, specialists in information resources, and individuals experienced in biosafety implementation from international perspective.

Our training team has strong expertise and practical experience in all aspects of biosafety and biotechnology. Members of our training team have participated and conducted a number of training programs in both local and international settings.

Course Fees

Registration Fee: $250 (Non-refundable)
Course Fee: $3,250 (Course fee includes the instruction fee, information packages, local travel, meals, lodging expenses and emergency health insurance).

More information

Dr. Cholani Weebadde
Department of Horticulture
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Michigan State University
Plant and Soil Sciences
1066 Bogue St. Room 266
East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.


Dr. Karim M. Maredia
Michigan State University
Phone: 517 – 353-5262
Fax: 517- 432-1982

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal opportunity institution.