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3-Food: No allergy problems from GM corn or soy



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TITLE:  No Allergy Problems from GM Corn or Soy: Study
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   1 Sep 2005

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


No Allergy Problems from GM Corn or Soy: Study

NEW YORK - Despite concerns from some critics of genetically modified
crops that the foods may raise consumers' risk of allergic reactions, a
new study finds no evidence that this is the case.

The study, by researchers in Portugal, adds to evidence that several
widely used strains of GM corn and soybeans do not promote food allergies.

All of the products -- three corn strains engineered to resist certain
crop-ravaging insects and a soybean variety that tolerates a common weed
killer --have been on the market since the 1990s. The new study looked at
a group of allergy-prone adults and children who had consumed products
containing the biotech foods at some point since their approval in Europe.

The researchers, led by Rita Batista of Portugal's National Health
Institute in Lisbon, gave 77 study participants allergy tests to see
whether they reacted differently to the GM corn and soy than they did to
conventional varieties.

None of them did, according to findings published in the Journal of
Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

Much of the corn and soybeans grown in the US is transgenic, meaning a
gene or genes has been inserted into the genome of the plants to give
them a desired trait.

European countries have been much slower to embrace the technology, as
consumers there are far more wary of what some call "Frankenfoods." One
of the concerns some critics have raised is the potential for allergic
reactions to the foreign proteins in GM foods; if a gene were transferred
from an allergenic source, that could make the resulting GM food more
likely to trigger allergies.

The products tested in the current study included two manufactured by US
biotech giant Monsanto, a corn variety known as MON 810 that is
engineered to resist certain insects, and Roundup Ready soybeans, which
are designed to tolerate the company's Roundup weed-killer.

The researchers also tested two pest-resistant corn varieties made by the
Swiss firm Syngenta and one herbicide-tolerant strain manufactured by
Germany's Bayer Crop Sciences. None of these products, the study authors
note, contain genes derived from sources known to trigger allergies.

Batista and her colleagues used skin prick tests to place protein
extracts from the corn and soy strains under participants' skin. They
found that though adults and children with a history of sensitivity to
corn and soy had skin reactions to the extracts, their reactions were the
same to GM and non-GM varieties.

"The transgenic products under testing seem to be safe in terms of
allergenic potential," the researchers write. They do, however, call for
routine postmarket testing to monitor the possibility of allergic
reactions to GM foods.


SOURCE: Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, August 2005.




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