A scientific approach to the assessment of foods derived from genetically engineered (GE) crops is critical to maintaining objectivity and public confidence in regulatory decisions. Principles developed at the international level support regulators and enable robust and transparent safety assessments. A comparison of key constituents in the GE crop with a suitable comparator is an important element of an assessment. In Europe, endogenous allergens would be included in the comparative analysis, however this approach has been hindered by technical limitations on the ability to accurately measure identified allergenic proteins. Over recent years, improved proteomic methods have enabled researchers to focus on major allergenic proteins in conventional food crops, as information on natural variability is largely lacking. Emerging data for soybean indicate that variability in levels of major allergens already in the food supply is broad. This raises questions about the biological interpretation of differences between a GE plant and its conventional counterpart, in particular, whether any conclusions about altered allergenicity could be inferred. This paper discusses the scientific justification for requiring proteomic analysis of endogenous allergens as part of the evaluation. Ongoing scientific review and corresponding international discussion are integral to ensuring that data requirements address legitimate risk assessment questions.
Keywords: Allergenicity; Endogenous allergens; Genetically engineered crop; Genetically modified food; Safety assessment.
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