Challenges for GE Crop Risk Assessment
Date : 18 June 2013
THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear friends and colleagues
Re: Challenges for GE Crop Risk Assessment
The following article provides an overview of the challenges in genetically engineered (GE) crop risk assessment. It points out that compared to the first five years of commercial use (1996-2000), GE corn and soybeans in the U.S. today use about twice as much herbicide per acre, with glyphosate/Roundup accounting for essentially the whole increase and there have been significant unprecedented increases in fungicide use on corn.
The current move to stacked GE crop varieties expressing multiple traits, coupled with the increased chemical use required by GE crops, raises new questions about new routes of exposure and cumulative levels of exposure to GE proteins, potential allergens and pesticides. These changes pose serious risk assessment challenges. New information is essential to convince regulators to invest substantially in the independent testing of GE crop safety.
This new information should cover:
(i) Quantification of the levels of pesticides (and their metabolites/breakdown products) used in association with GE crops in human fluids and key foods such as whole wheat grain and flour, soymilk and infant formula;
(ii) Methods to quantify GE protein exposure levels in tissues and organs of concern in evaluating human health risks;
(iii) Methods to assess the impacts on fetal development following pre-natal exposure to GE proteins via maternal blood flows; and
(iv) Short-term cell assays to test for the toxic potential of each herbicide and Bt toxin used in relation to GE crops singly and in various combinations.
It is also recommended that an appropriate government or international organization fund long-term toxicology and cancer feeding studies in at least two species of laboratory animals on a cross-section of the major traits in existing GE crop varieties. The results should then feed into future additional testing.
With best wishes,
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
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GE Crop Risk Assessment Challenges: An Overview
By Dr Charles Benbrook
May 6, 2013