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Executive Summary

The proceedings of the colloquium on the "Scientific Foundations of Bioremediation: Current Status and Future Needs" represents a continuation of a newly-initiated program of the American Academy of Microbiology to provide summary statements on timely and important scientific issues for scientists, specifically those issues with broad implications for society at large. The colloquium represents a convergence of recognition of a need for an evaluation of the scientific underpinning of bioremediation, a subject of intense public interest, and a need for bioremediation to be applied to problems of pollution such as that arising from the recent oil spill in Alaska. A request from the Public and Scientific Affairs Board of the American Society for Microbiology for a document addressing the scientific foundations of bioremediation served as the galvanizing force for initiating the colloquium.

The colloquium undertook as its charge to gather together a group of internationally recognized experts in the multidisciplinary fields which have an impact on bioremediation. The group of experts which was brought together evaluated the current state and future needs of the science underlying the technology of bioremediation. An excellent consensus was derived as to the currently available information and that which should be gathered to ensure progress in bioremediation as a scientifically based alternative for dealing with the problems of environmental pollution. The findings of this colloquium will be of great value to governmental agencies and certainly will serve scientists in the field of environmental biotechnology well as a seminal document for the rapidly developing field.

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