Task Force on Application of Food and Feed Safety Assessment Principles to Evaluate Transgenic Approaches to Modulation of Endogenous Gene Expression in Crops
This Task Force was formed to determine how to assess the feed and food safety of crops obtained through transgenic approaches that affect endogenous plant regulatory pathways and gene expression.
Modern biotechnology is increasingly able to achieve phenotypes that have been long sought through traditional breeding: increased tolerance to environmental stresses (e.g., drought, frost, salt); disease resistance; improved nutrition; increased yield; and altered growth or development. Newer phenotypes are often attained through modification of endogenous plant gene expression, either by gene suppression technologies or through alterations in regulatory or signaling pathways. Though these processes occur naturally in plants and have been used in plant domestication and conventional breeding, they achieve desired traits through different mechanisms than many approaches currently used in commercialized biotech crops (e.g., expression of a Bt protein for insect protection). It is possible that they may have secondary effects on plant physiology.
The Task Force examined two of these newer technologies, transcription factors and RNA-interference technologies, to identify, evaluate, and assess potential safety issues related to secondary effects.1 It was concluded that engineering crops for the production of small RNAs or for the expression of transcription factors does not present any novel hazards. Consequently, the current safety assessment paradigm provides a high level of assurance that such engineered crops will be safe for food and feed use.
Several presentations have been made on the critical conclusions of this manuscript. The Task Force’s recommendations on appropriate safety assessment for crops derived with these newer techniques will serve as a key scientific reference for regulatory decision-making.
Bruce Chassy, U. of Illinois
Bryan Delaney, Pioneer
Jay Petrick, Monsanto
Jim Ligon, Bayer CropScience (Chair)
Linda Meyer, Syngenta
Rod Herman, Dow
Wayne Parrott, U. of Georgia
Joe Zhou, Bayer CropScience