Spec. Issue 2006 - Article Summary

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Safety assessment of genetically modified (GM) foods

Patrick O’Mahony and Alan Reilly
Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
Modern biotechnology enables a transfer of genes between species that would not occur naturally. Safety assessment of genetically modified (GM) foods is primarily based on the concept of substantial equivalence, a comparison with conventional counterparts and similar varieties as a starting point. Nutritional and toxicological studies should be based on the outcome of the comparison, and additional safety tests should be carried out as required. The limitations of animal studies, particularly in assessing the safety of whole GM foods may be addressed by the new technologies that brought us GM foods in the first place. While animal studies may still have a role in the testing of GM food components, the advent of technology such as “genomics” offers a real and possibly superior alternative.

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