Emerging technologies often pose various uncertain health risks that cause policymakers to hesitate to allow resultant products and processes to enter the market—but they also may offer large benefits, including the potential to greatly reduce some of the very risks currently most greatly affecting public health and the environment. Synthetic biology serves as one such emerging technology that, despite its potential benefits to various fields, gives policymakers pause until the human and environmental health risks posed by genetically engineered organisms are better characterized and assessed. Given various limitations of our current paradigm for making risk management decisions, some of which are caused by limitations of conventional methods of quantitative risk assessment (QRA), a modified approach to emerging technology characterization and assessment might be a needed step change. This paper demonstrates how one such approach—“solution-focused risk assessment” (Finkel, Hum Ecol Risk Assess 17(4):754–787, 2011)—can help evaluate synthetic biology products against conventional competitors. Specifically, this paper conducts a SFRA for Oxitec’s engineered Aedes aegypti mosquito, which serves as a synthetic biology option for dengue virus vector control.
- Comparative risk assessment
- Synthetic biology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Environmental Science