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Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Oct;46 Suppl 10:S20-3. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2008.07.021. Epub 2008 Jul 30.

Current codex guidelines for assessment of potential protein allergenicity.

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DuPont Experimental Station, Building 353, Wilmington, DE 19880, USA.


A rigorous safety assessment process exists for GM crops. It includes evaluation of the introduced protein as well as the crop containing such protein with the goal of demonstrating the GM crop is "as-safe-as" non-transgenic crops in the food supply. One of the major issues for GM crops is the assessment of the expressed protein for allergenic potential. Currently, no single factor is recognized as an identifier for protein allergenicity. Therefore, a weight-of-evidence approach, which takes into account a variety of factors and approaches for an overall assessment of allergenic potential, is conducted [Codex Alimentarious Commission, 2003. Alinorm 03/34: Joint FAO/WHO Food Standard Programme, Codex Alimentarious Commission, Twenty-Fifth Session, Rome, Italy, 30 June-5 July, 2003. Appendix III, Guideline for the conduct of food safety assessment of foods derived from recombinant-DNA plants, and Appendix IV, Annex on the assessment of possible allergenicity, pp. 47-60]. This assessment is based on what is known about allergens, including the history of exposure and safety of the gene(s) source; protein structure (e.g., amino acid sequence identity to human allergens); stability to pepsin digestion in vitro [Thomas, K. et al., 2004. A multi-laboratory evaluation of a common in vitro pepsin digestion assay protocol used in assessing the safety of novel proteins. Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 39, 87-98]; an estimate of exposure of the novel protein(s) to the gastrointestinal tract where absorption occurs (e.g., protein abundance in the crop, processing effects); and when appropriate, specific IgE binding studies or skin prick testing. Additional approaches may be considered (e.g., animal models; targeted sera screening) as the science evolves; however, such approaches have not been thoroughly evaluated or validated for predicting protein allergenicity.

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