An Initial Framework for the Environmental Risk Assessment of Synthetic Biology-Derived Organisms with a Focus on Gene Drives

  • Wayne G. LandisEmail author
  • Ethan A. Brown
  • Steven Eikenbary
Part of the Risk, Systems and Decisions book series (RSD)


The goal of this chapter is to present a path to estimate risk due to synthetic biology being released into the environment. Our examples are for organisms released with gene drives specifically designed to alter the fitness of specific populations that either transmit disease or are nonindigenous and pose a hazard to the ecosystem services of a specific ecological structure. We apply the structure of source-stressor-habitat-effect-impact pathway derived from the relative risk model (Landis and Wiegers 2005) and as was demonstrated to be applicable in the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) 2016 report Gene Drives on the Horizon. This relative risk model is now calculated employing Bayesian networks and has been applied to forestry management (Ayre and Landis 2012), infectious disease (Ayre et al. 2014), invasive species (Herring et al. 2015), contaminated sites (Landis et al. 2017a; Johns et al. 2017), and watershed management (Hines and Landis 2014; Graham et al. 2019).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wayne G. Landis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ethan A. Brown
    • 1
  • Steven Eikenbary
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Toxicology, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington UniversityBellinghamUSA

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