General ethical and legal aspects of the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for the biosensing of explosives|2014-04-17

The EU project D-BOX tackles the burning issue of anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions remaining from armed conflicts. This will be achieved through the development of innovative solutions that will be interfaced and integrated in a comprehensive toolbox concept that is going to provide demining stakeholders the advice for and the access to the most appropriate tools, methods and procedures.

Among other things D-BOX includes the development of highly-sensitive biosensors for the detection of explosives. The consortium pursues a new approach in which a common soil bacterium is genetically modified to produce red fluorescent proteins upon recognition of TNT-signatures.

The aim of this report is first to analyse the public acceptance and possible ethical objections to the use of GMOs for the biosensing of explosives. We further recommend necessary technical and non-technical measurements to meet the security needs and ethical concerns of the public. To achieve this aim the following issues are covered in this report

A desktop research on the public acceptance as well as on ethical aspects of GMOs in general has been performed.

  • A series of expert interviews have been performed to learn about the public acceptance of the D-BOX biosensor.
  • The legal aspects (directives and regulations) of the use of genetically modified biosensors have been described.
  • The approval procedure for the experimental release as well as for the placing on the market of the GM biosensor has been explained in detail.

For further information please refer to the full report at:,1,MTIw.html

We would like to thank our interview partners for openly sharing their knowledge and experience with us and above all for the pleasant atmosphere they created during the interview!