Foods produced by genetic engineering technology are now appearing on the market and many more are likely to emerge in the future. The safety aspects, regulation, and labelling of these foods are still contentious issues in most countries and recent surveys highlight consumer concerns about the safety and labelling of genetically modified food. In most countries it is necessary to have approval for the use of genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs) in the production of food. In order to police regulations, a technology to detect such foods is desirable.
The application of the modern biotechnology to food, notably through the use of GM, has raised concern amongst the European public. Values that underlie this public concern about food biotechnology, include perceptions of: trust, choice, need, and care for a sustainable society and natural balance. Recommendations are advocated for addressing these social aspects, in terms of improving consumer choice, promoting greater public involvement in decision making and achieving a sustainable society.
Adverse reactions to food and food additives must be classified according to pathogenic criteria. It is necessary to strictly differentiate between an allergy, triggered by a substance-specific immunological mechanism, and an intolerance, in which no specific immune reaction can be established. In contrast to views expressed in the media, by laymen and patients, adverse reactions to additives are less frequent than is believed.
New ethical questions have arisen from our ability to intervene in the structure of the genome. Responsible use of this technique requires ethical evaluation in which experts, potential beneficiaries and the general public should all participate. The examples of genetically modified food and of human genetics help to illustrate the issues involved.
Different methodological approaches were elaborated to evaluate quality and safety of genetically modified food products. The new engineering is proposed to rate medical, biological, genetic and technological advantage of these products. Using the same engineering, a complete analysis of the genetically modified soybean 40-3-2 ("Monsanto Co", USA) has been performed.
The potential for transfer of antibiotic resistance genes from genetically modified (GM) plant material to microbes through genetic recombination in the human or animal gut is a consideration that has engendered caution in the use of GM foods. This study was aimed at defining the optimal physical and chemical conditions necessary to ensure sufficient fragmentation of DNA in plant tissues to a size where it would be unlikely to be stably transferred to bacterial gut microflora.
The current debate about the safety of genetically modified food includes some important scientific issues where more scientific data would aid the robustness of safety evaluation. One example is the possibility of gene transfer, especially from genetically modified plant material.
Risk Analysis: An Official Publication of the Society for Risk Analysis
Perceived risk and related attitudes have been implicated as major factors in many of the difficult policy problems that face modern society (nuclear power, genetically modified food, etc). Experts often argue that no or very small risks are involved; people are still worried. Why? The standard answer is lack of trust. Data on trust and risk perception, however, point to only a weak relationship between the two (r approximately 0.3).