The work in a laboratory is a risky activity and implies following several rules to keep a safe workplace. Particularly in our project, the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of a genetically modified Pseudomonas putida strain, have obliged to address some safety concerns in our laboratory. In order to ensure both the environmental and health security of our project, we respect all the safety regulations imposed by Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica António Xavier (ITQB)1,2.
The complete safety form can be read in
Before starting the wet-lab work, all the team members read the safety manual from ITQB1, which explains the difference between biosafety levels and states all the rules to follow in order to guarantee a safe environment at the institute, such as the utilization of protective equipment during the execution of the experiments.
Despite the team being constituted by members with different years of lab experience, a supervisor was always present in the lab and previously explained the correct utilization of the equipment and materials. During the design of each experiment, a risk analysis was undertaken to make sure that all the necessary precautions were addressed.
We also followed the COVID-19 regulations imposed by ITQB for all the personnel working at the institute, including wearing a mask all the time and keeping a distance superior to 2m.
Ethics and Legislation
The utilization of Genetic Modified Organisms (GMOs) is still an ongoing and sensitive discussion topic. Our project employs a genetically modified strain of Pseudomonas putida to produce spectinabilin, a compound to fight the Pine Wilt Disease, a simultaneous local and global issue. So, it is important to take into consideration the different countries’ legislation for GMOs. Nevertheless, in this first phase of the project, we have focused on implementing our solution only in Portugal, the legislations we are required to follow are the Portuguese directive3 and The European Union directive4.
- ITQB NOVA. Safety Manual for all activities at ITQB NOVA. https://www.itqb.unl.pt/about-us/organization/health-and-safety
- ITQB NOVA. Information - Working at ITQB NOVA during the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.itqb.unl.pt/about-us/organization/health-and-safety/information-working-at-itqb-nova-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/view (2020)
- Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente. Legislação aplicável - OGM. https://apambiente.pt/index.php?ref=16&subref=85&sub2ref=429&sub3ref=600 (2020)
- Council of the European Union. Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC - Commission Declaration. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32001L0018 (2001)