The Use of Whole Food Animal Studies in the Safety Assessment of Genetically Modified Crops: Limitations and Recommendations

Crit Rev Toxicol. 2013 Nov;43 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):1-24. doi: 10.3109/10408444.2013.842955.

Abstract

There is disagreement internationally across major regulatory jurisdictions on the relevance and utility of whole food (WF) toxicity studies on GM crops, with no harmonization of data or regulatory requirements. The scientific value, and therefore animal ethics, of WF studies on GM crops is a matter addressable from the wealth of data available on commercialized GM crops and WF studies on irradiated foods. We reviewed available GM crop WF studies and considered the extent to which they add to the information from agronomic and compositional analyses. No WF toxicity study was identified that convincingly demonstrated toxicological concern or that called into question the adequacy, sufficiency, and reliability of safety assessments based on crop molecular characterization, transgene source, agronomic characteristics, and/or compositional analysis of the GM crop and its near-isogenic line. Predictions of safety based on crop genetics and compositional analyses have provided complete concordance with the results of well-conducted animal testing. However, this concordance is primarily due to the improbability of de novo generation of toxic substances in crop plants using genetic engineering practices and due to the weakness of WF toxicity studies in general. Thus, based on the comparative robustness and reliability of compositional and agronomic considerations and on the absence of any scientific basis for a significant potential for de novo generation of toxicologically significant compositional alterations as a sole result of transgene insertion, the conclusion of this review is that WF animal toxicity studies are unnecessary and scientifically unjustifiable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Experimentation / ethics
  • Animal Experimentation / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Animals
  • Food Safety / methods*
  • Food, Genetically Modified / toxicity*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Humans
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / toxicity*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / ethics
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Toxicity Tests / ethics
  • Toxicity Tests / methods