What are we missing?

Our Resource Index is an ongoing work-in-progress, please contribute your curiosity and knowledge to help us improve and build resources that serve you well.

Is your favorite emerging genetic technology with a climate application not listed here yet? Do you want more resources on a topic related to genetics and/or climate that is not currently in our Resource Index? Let us know!

Genetic science and engineering

Genetically modified versus genetically engineered

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have a specific legal and policy definition. GMOs are organisms where genetic material from a different species has been intentionally introduced.

Genetic engineered organisms (GEOs) encompass a broad range of organisms whose genetic material has been intentionally altered. The alterations could include deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of genetic material. Thus, not all genetically engineered organisms are defined or regulated as GMOs. Historically, the methods researchers used to make alterations in genetic material have been called recombinant DNA (rDNA) technologies.

What is being modified or engineered?

Genetic materials of organisms include DNA and RNA. These materials are made of long chains of molecules that assemble in an order referred to as a sequence or code. In addition to their sequence, genetic materials are organized into a three-dimensional structure. Genetic materials can also be chemically modified, referred to as epigenetics.

Changes to genetic materials can be passed on to organisms’ offspring (heritable) or not (non-heritable).

A gene is a unit of DNA that contains the instructions for making a biological molecule (most often a protein, sometimes RNA).

Genomics is the study of all the DNA of an organism, or it’s entire genome.

Humans have been intentionally modifying genetic materials of non-human organisms for a long time using a variety of methods that have expanded as we learn more about genetic science and develop new technologies. The science and history of agricultural technology is an example of how humans have altered the genetics of non-human organisms over time.

Learn about the broader field of genetics

U.S. regulation of genetic technologies

The Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology (adopted in 1986; updated 1992 and 2017) is the main policy governing genetic technologies in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) all have specific regulatory roles defined in the coordinated framework.

The following information is from the U.S. government’s Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation

EPA’s role

“EPA is responsible for protecting human health and the environment. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA regulates pesticides. Under section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA establishes the amount of pesticide chemical residues that may be present in food. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and regulations implementing that statute, EPA currently regulates biotechnology products that are new microorganisms not specifically excluded by the statute (generally those regulated by other statutes).”

Learn more about EPA’s role

FDA’s role

“FDA is responsible for protection and promotion of public health. It regulates under laws including the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), and the Public Health Service Act (PHS), which together, among other things, govern the safety of most foods for humans and animals, including those produced using biotechnology; the safety and effectiveness of intentional genomic alterations in animals produced using biotechnology; and the safety and effectiveness of human and animal drugs and the safety, purity and potency of human biologics, including drugs and human biologics from plants and animals produced using biotechnology.”
“FDA’s voluntary Plant Biotechnology Consultation Program evaluates the safety of food from new GMOs before they enter the market. This program allows developers to work with FDA on a product-by-product basis.”

Learn more about FDA’s role

USDA’s role

“Within USDA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for protecting agriculture from pests and diseases. Under the Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA) and the Plant Protection Act (PPA), USDA regulates products of biotechnology that may pose a risk to agricultural plant and animal health. Under the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act (VSTA), USDA has regulatory oversight over products of biotechnology that are included in veterinary biologics, and ensures that veterinary biologics are pure, safe, potent and effective.

In addition, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in USDA that is responsible for ensuring that the United States’ commercial supply of meat, poultry, egg products, and fish of the Order Siluriformes is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled. Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), and Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA), FSIS inspects all meat, poultry, and processed egg products in interstate commerce. FSIS uses these authorities to regulate products under its jurisdiction, including those derived using genetic engineering.”

Learn more about USDA’s role

A changing climate

A changing climate poses challenges: issues that result from the accelerated pace of change to the Earth’s climate systems.

Have you noticed the weather has changed in your lifetime or do you hear elders refer to changes they’ve observed?

More frequent, severe, and/or erratic hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, extreme and unseasonable high and low temperatures, etc. are negatively impacting humans and other life on our planet. These changes to the physical world will continue to worsen if we are unable to change our atmosphere by reducing heat-trapping gases – carbon oxides, nitrous oxide, methane, and fluorinated gases – that cause overall warming of our planet at a faster rate than natural cycles.

The impacts on the physical and biological world create changes in our social world – refugees, mass migration events, conflict, mental health challenges, public health issues, etc. – so we include these as part of climate challenges.

Learn about climate change

Learn about community-driven efforts to address climate challenges

Actions for individuals and groups

Communicating on climate change and its risks

A lot is known and a lot is still being researched about how we can communicate well about climate change and its risks. We’ve collected some resources and some sources of research here.

Resources

Research

Available climate tools and technologies

Here are a handful of resources on available tools and technology that can be implemented today while genetic and other technologies are developed for the future.