Objectives and programme
To provide students with:
- expert information on current and potential future developments in biotechnology
- expert information on national and international norms and regulations in biotechnology
- advanced skills to conduct risk assessments and apply risk management in biotechnology
- risk communication skills
At the end of the course, participants will be able to conduct risk assessments and apply risk management options, while at the same time deal with public policy issues at the interface of science, government, industry, and civil society. The Certificate is suitable for individuals engaged as biosafety professionals in government agencies or industry. It is also tailored for individuals with an interest in public policy, legal and ethical aspects of biotechnology.
The duration of the Postgraduate Course in Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology is one year. The program includes an introductory section on plant biotechnology and its applications for agriculture and industry. The main core covers the basics of risk assessment and regulatory structures, food and feed safety assessment, and environmental safety assessment. An overview of national and international regulatory systems is included. The final section deals with risk perception and communication.
The full programme can be viewed in the Course Catalogue of Ghent University.
The course is an e-learning distance course taught by a local faculty and provides practical training. It consists of two practical sessions given during the first on campus period. These sessions are intended to familiarise trainees with little or no experience in plant transformation and GMO detection methods.
Exercise 1: Plant transformationThe production of transgenic plants is a time consuming process consisting of two essential steps: integration of foreign DNA and regeneration of transformed cells. In order to test new constructs for their value, transient expression systems are used that estimate the expression level shortly upon introduction of the DNA.
Students will be introducing DNA into Arabidopsis thaliana root tissue by using Agrobacterium tumefaciens, after which the degree of efficiency will be determined based on the expression level of the reporter gene β-glucuronidase (gus).
Exercise 2: GMO detection
In Europe labelling is required for GMO derived food and feed products. In order to be able to enforce this legislation, reliable methods for detection, identification and quantification of GMOs in food and feed products have been developed. The most common detection methods are based on the presence of the newly introduced DNA or protein.
Students will test the presence of GMOs in food and feed samples by using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). After DNA isolation, GMO-specific PCR reactions will be performed, after which the presence of GMOs can be established. Students will also be familiarised with the use of real-time PCR.
Two on-campus periods of 2 weeks each are foreseen in the beginning (3 till 14 December 2012) and end (June 2013) of the course.
For the academic year 2012-2013 the course is scheduled to start on November 1st, 2012.
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