EU project seeks to improve GM food safety testing

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

The 90-day trial found no adverse effects from MON810 GM maize - but researchers are awaiting results from a one-year study
The 90-day trial found no adverse effects from MON810 GM maize - but researchers are awaiting results from a one-year study

Related tags: Maize, Genetically modified food, Food, Gm

An EU-funded project that aims to improve safety testing for genetically modified (GM) foods has published its first results.

The GRACE project (GMO Risk Assessment and Communication of Evidence) was set up in response to a request from the European Commission in 2012 to assess the risks and benefits of GM foods, for health, the environment and from a socio-economic standpoint. It also aims to assess testing methods for their safety, including various kinds of animal trials, as well as alternative in vitro​ methods.

This first published study​ from the project systematically followed guidance for 90-day feeding trials from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), made mandatory last year. Rats were given one of two genetically modified MON810 maize varieties or one of four conventional maize varieties as part of their diet – and the researchers found no negative effects as a result of the GM maize.

The project aims to examine whether such feeding studies can add to the risk assessment process for GM plants.

“The recent publication does not yet provide any answers to this question,”​ it said, adding that it was still awaiting results from an ongoing one-year feeding trial, as well as testing of in vitro​ methods.

The researchers said there were plans to involve various stakeholders in interpreting the project’s results, including experts and interested members of the public. With the aim of improving transparency around GM safety assessments, the project’s findings will be published as open access papers in the journal Archives of Toxicology.

This latest study is available online here​.

The GRACE project is due to finish in February 2016.

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