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Assessment of the food safety issues related to genetically modified foods

This review gives a valuable insight into the thought processes behind many of the regulatory frameworks in place regarding the safety of foods containing GM ingredients. Starting with the concept of substantial equivalence as a management tool for safety evaluations, it then addresses issues such as allergenicity, unintended effects of a genetic manipulation and risk assessment.

Although broad international consensus exists about the principles of the safety of GM-derived foods, the regulatory frameworks may differ between countries. These are summarised, along with useful data about foods already developed and results of laboratory feeding studies. The authors consider in some detail the challenges associated with such studies, as well as the difficulties in linking an observed effect with a specific food component.

They also suggest that new research tools enabling detailed analysis of sub-cellular components will be significant in helping to identify and characterise any differences between GM products and their non-GM counterparts. According to the authors, an integrated approach using molecular biology, toxicology, genetics and nutritional information is needed, alongside existing long-established techniques used to assess the safety of conventionally-produced foods.

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