Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Biomarkers help monitor effects of GM foods

Genetically modified (GM) foods have much to offer, but European researchers are keen to make sure developments in the field are safe and beneficial right along the food chain.
Biomarkers help monitor effects of GM foods
Efforts are underway to fill the remaining gaps in our knowledge regarding the full effects of genetically modified foods on human and animal health, including safe exposure levels, and the incidence and predictability of adverse effects.

The European-funded GMSAFOOD project is examining and interpreting the biological effects of consuming genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It is identifying anatomic, physiologic, biochemical, molecular, allergenic, and immunogenic biomarkers to establish a so-called 'biological state' following the consumption of GMOs. Post-market monitoring is also planned to help predict potential harmful effects of GMOs following market authorisation and release.

GMSAFOOD is using a biomarker databases to investigate GMO effects through the use of animal models – pigs, salmon, rats and mice. The scientists are keen to identify biomarkers, study indirect effects in the food chain, and measure the degree of influence on pre-existing allergic disorders.

The various experiments provide data on general health and boost our understanding of allergies and immunology.

To date, GMSAFOOD has made progress in a number of areas. Studies of Atlantic salmon revealed that there were no adverse effects after being fed GM Bt-maize over the short- and medium term. No adverse effects on intestine state or organism immunity were observed after short-term feeding of GM Bt (MON810) maize to weanling pigs. The project fed mice twice a week with GM seed meal for four weeks. Results show that the GM food regimen did not influence the onset of disease or exacerbate any pre-existing allergic or asthmatic conditions. The project has developed specific antibody based methods for confirming and quantifying newly expressed proteins in genetically modified peas.

These results are helping to identify biomarkers that should be followed in humans and animals in order to track GM food consumption and its potential effects on health and disease.

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