Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Safety evaluation of transgenic food crops

Novel foods derived from genetically-modified (GMO) crops are likely to enter the market, and so an evaluation of their safety is attracting the attention of both scientists and consumers. The project is addressing this issue. The project programme is oriented towards the development of test methodologies for the assurance of food safety and to support commercialization of genetically engineered crops and derived novel food products. The project is addressing the potential (immuno) toxicity of novel food proteins, and is assessing unintentional alterations in the metabolism of GMO-derived crops with possible implications for consumer safety. Tomatoes and cauliflower have been genetically modified as 'model' crops through the insertion of genes coding for insecticidal proteins (ie these proteins will act as in-built insecticides in the plants). The safety of these GMO crops is being evaluated. The scientific work consists of four main parts. Firstly, capillary electrophoresis is being used to detect post-translational modification differences of proteins. Secondly, chemical fingerprinting allows measurement of the overall chemical composition of the transgenic crop versus its isogenic control. Thirdly, the so-called Brown Norway rat model has been improved in order to characterize the allergenicity of novel food proteins and modified foods. Finally, it is intended to use gut cell systems, including human cells, to study the toxicological profile and bioavailability of complex plant constituents. This research will help to define the conditions under which novel foods can be marketed, and the results will assist regulators and legislators to test, and if necessary to improve, regulations regarding GMO-derived crops and foods.

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