Protein Allergy and GMOs

Publication date: 2017
Source:Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences
Author(s): G.S. Ladics
A rigorous safety assessment process exists for genetically modified (GM) crops. It includes an evaluation of the introduced protein as well as the crop containing such protein with the goal of demonstrating the GM crop is “as-safe-as” non-GM crops in the food supply. One of the major issues for GM crops is the assessment of the expressed protein for allergenic potential. Currently, no single factor is recognized as a predictor for protein allergenicity. Therefore, a weight-of-the-evidence approach, which takes into account a variety of factors and approaches for an overall assessment of allergenic potential, is conducted. This assessment is based on what is known about allergens, including the history of exposure and safety of the gene(s) source; protein structure (e.g., amino acid sequence identity to human allergens); stability to pepsin digestion in vitro; an estimate of exposure of the novel protein(s) to the gastrointestinal tract where absorption occurs [e.g., protein abundance in the crop, processing effects (i.e., heat stability)]; glycosylation status; and, when appropriate, specific IgE-binding studies with sera from relevant clinically allergic subjects. Since GM crops were first commercialized over 20years ago, there is no proof that the introduced novel protein(s) in any approved GM crop has caused food allergy.

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