Date of this Version
Current Allergy & Asthma Reports (2011) 11:317–324; DOI 10.1007/s11882-011-0195-6
Genetically modified (GM) plants are increasingly used for food production and industrial applications. As the global population has surpassed 7 billion and per capita consumption rises, food production is challenged by loss of arable land, changing weather patterns, and evolving plant pests and disease. Previous gains in quantity and quality relied on natural or artificial breeding, random mutagenesis, increased pesticide and fertilizer use, and improved farming techniques, all without a formal safety evaluation. However, the direct introduction of novel genes raised questions regarding safety that are being addressed by an evaluation process that considers potential increases in the allergenicity, toxicity, and nutrient availability of foods derived from the GM plants. Opinions vary regarding the adequacy of the assessment, but there is no documented proof of an adverse effect resulting from foods produced from GM plants. This review and opinion discusses current practices and new regulatory demands related to food safety.