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For the record

Does a viral gene found in GM food raise safety concerns? Image

Does a viral gene found in GM food raise safety concerns?

On the 21st January 2013 the Daily Mail published an article claiming new research had found a 'poisonous gene' present in many GM foods that had previously been missed by regulators. The newspaper claimed this brought into question the safety of approved GM foods.

The authors of this new research Dr Nancy Podevin and Professor Patrick du Jardin don’t agree:

"It has been known for some years that a DNA sequence used to turn genes on and off (a gene switch) in some GM plants also forms the tail end of a virus gene in the Cauliflower mosaic virus. This naturally occurring plant virus is ubiquitous in plants and derived foods, both GM and non-GM, and does not pose safety concerns to human and animal health.”

"In the light of recent advances in the understanding of how this gene behaves when it occurs within a virus, we did a comprehensive risk assessment of the part of the Cauliflower mosaic virus used as a gene switch. We were looking at how the presence of part of this viral gene may affect the physiology of the GM plants. We studied the variants of the gene switch that are introduced in GM plants and the conditions under which this gene segment could be turned on to produce a viral protein fragment, in detail. No risks to human health were identified when this gene was present in GM plants.”

Document type: For The Record

Issue number:

Published: 23 January 2013

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