The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that it is developing a project intended to support public dialog concerning the development and use of synthetic biology (Synbio) algae. EPA has oversight responsibility for the production and use of intergeneric microorganisms, including cyanobacteria, eukaryotic microalgae (genetically modified (GM) algae), and their products by application of genetic engineering approaches, including those called Synbio. EPA's recently posted document, US Environmental Protection Agency GM/Synbio Algae Project, states that it is focusing its project around GM/Synbio algae applications.
EPA intends to facilitate the development of the GM/Synbio algae project by holding an expert workshop, open to the public on September 30, 2015. While the workshop will focus on the technical questions that EPA believes are important to its development of a GM/Synbio algae considerations document, EPA states that it will also provide an opportunity to stakeholders and the general public to comment on any aspects of GM/Synbio algae that they believe are relevant to EPA's mission.
EPA's posting of the GM/Synbio algae project is hugely important for the industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology communities. EPA's announcement suggests a broader Agency initiative is underway, and is best read in the context of other relevant developments. Full details on this announcement and related developments are available in Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) affiliate Bergeson & Campbell P.C. (B&C®)'s memorandum EPA Posts Information on GM/Synbio Algae Project.