Scientists have drawn up a list of 25 technological advances and environmental changes which pose a potential threat to the UK.

Although their impact is uncertain and some will turn out to be irrelevant, some may become the keys issues of the future. A new study led by Prof Bill Sutherland of Cambridge University calls for scientists to "scan the horizon" so keys issues can be studied and assessed and the right environmental policies put in place.

Outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, avian influenza and climate change were examples of controversial events which should have been foreseen.

"We are not scare mongering or trying to frighten people because we are saying that these issues may also present opportunities which will bring great benefits," said Prof Sutherland. They include the use of artificially created life, the building of microscopic robots through nanotechnology, the use of biofuels and the arrival of invasive species.