Texas A&M Law Review

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Environmental bioremediation is the use of biological activity to reduce the concentration or toxicity of a pollutant. A rapidly increasing population leads to a consequential increase in industrial waste and pollution, and innovators are researching numerous techniques to degrade these pollutants and prevent their spread into the environment. These techniques are expensive and often result in secondary pollutants, which limits their widespread application. Bioremediation, however, presents a cost-friendly and more efficient way to degrade pollutants with little or no secondary pollutants. This Article explores how scientists can use genetically modified microorganisms (“GMMs”) to target specific hazardous wastes that are otherwise not degradable. Current U.S. laws and regulations only regulate GMMs on a case-by-case basis. With the rapidly advancing biotechnology sector, GMMs can provide cleaner, safer, and faster methods for cleaning up pollutants. However, as with all new sciences, GMMs pose unique risks when released directly into the environment. Regulations on the field release of GMMs are highly restrictive and hinder scientific research. This Article describes bioremediation and its potential risks; sets forth the current legal framework; and analyzes how policymakers can ensure the safe experimentation and eventual widespread use of GMMs in the environment.



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