GMO ban: Risks for science-based assessments

Euractiv 07/2012;


French President François Hollande will face judicial problems over the ban on the cultivation of genetically modified plants, and this has widespread implications for science-based risk assessment in the EU, argue Marcel Kuntz, John Davison and Agnès E. Ricroch.

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    ABSTRACT: Despite the fact that a thorough, lengthy and costly evaluation of genetically engineered (GE) crop plants (including compositional analysis and toxicological tests) is imposed before marketing some European citizens remain sceptical of the safety of GE food and feed. In this context, are additional tests necessary? If so, what can we learn from them? To address these questions, we examined data from 60 recent high-throughput "-omics" comparisons between GE and non-GE crop lines and 17 recent long term animal feeding studies (longer than the classical 90-day subchronic toxicological tests), as well as 16 multigenerational studies on animals. The "-omics" comparisons revealed that the genetic modification has less impact on plant gene expression and composition than that of conventional plant breeding. Moreover, environmental factors (such as field location, sampling time, or agricultural practices) have a greater impact than transgenesis. None of these "-omics" profiling studies has raised new safety concerns about GE varieties; neither did the long-term and multigenerational studies on animals. Therefore, there is no need to perform such long term studies in a case-by-case approach, unless reasonable doubt still exists after conducting a 90-day feeding test. In addition, plant compositional analysis and "-omics" profiling do not indicate that toxicological tests should be mandatory. We discuss what complementary fundamental studies should be performed and how to choose the most efficient experimental design in order to assess risks associated with new GE traits. The possible need to update the current regulatory framework is discussed.
    New Biotechnology 12/2012; 30(4). DOI:10.1016/j.nbt.2012.12.001 · 2.90 Impact Factor


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