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1 December 2009

EFSA consults on the assessment of allergenicity of GM food and feed

EFSA’s GMO Panel has published for public consultation a draft report updating its assessment of allergenicity of GM plants and microorganisms and derived food and feed. The document, which is an EFSA initiative, was prepared in order to review and update current methods of evaluation and provides conclusions for assessing the allergenic potential of GM plants and microorganisms.

GMOs could contain quantities of new or existing proteins which might cause food allergies in people and animals. EU legislation therefore requires that the allergenicity of GM foods be assessed before they can be placed on the market.

In the report, the GMO Panel makes some new recommendations for assessing the allergenic potential of the proteins contained in GM plants. In particular, it describes how to analyse the sequence of the proteins in order to identify possible similarities with known allergens; how to test the potential of the proteins to bind with specific antibodies (suggesting they could trigger an allergic reaction); and how to test the breakdown of the protein during digestion. Recommendations from this report are aimed at updating and complementing EFSA’s GM allergenicity assessment presently included in its Guidance documents for the risk assessment of GM plants and microorganisms and derived food and feed.

All stakeholders and interested parties will be able to provide their comments up to 31 January 2010. In line with its policy on openness and transparency, EFSA will publish on its website a summary report of the comments received and will take them into consideration before finalising its report.

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[1] Hereafter referred to as previous cargoes.