Toxicological Evaluation of Proteins Introduced Into Food Crops

DOI: 10.3109/10408444.2013.842956

Abstract: This manuscript focuses on the toxicological evaluation of proteins introduced into GM crops to impart desired traits. In many cases, introduced proteins can be shown to have a history of safe use. Where modifications have been made to proteins, experience has shown that it is highly unlikely that modification of amino acid sequences can make a non-toxic protein toxic. Moreover, if the modified protein still retains its biological function, and this function is found in related proteins that have a history of safe use (HOSU) in food, and the exposure level is similar to functionally related proteins, then the modified protein could also be considered to be “as-safe-as” those that have a HOSU. Within nature, there can be considerable evolutionary changes in the amino acid sequence of proteins within the same family, yet these proteins share the same biological function. In general, food crops such as maize, soy, rice, canola etc. are subjected to a variety of processing conditions to generate different food products. Processing conditions such as cooking, modification of pH conditions, and mechanical shearing can often denature proteins in these crops resulting in a loss of functional activity. These same processing conditions can also markedly lower human dietary exposure to (functionally active) proteins. Safety testing of an introduced protein could be indicated if its biological function was not adequately characterized and/or it was shown to be structurally/functionally related to proteins that are known to be toxic to mammals.

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