domingo, septiembre 06, 2015

No substantial equivalence

Biosafety Information Centre 

Systems Biology Study Finds GMOs not “substantially equivalent”

The safety assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a contentious topic. In the U.S., the debate centres around the methodology used to determine the criteria for substantial equivalence (whether GMOs are “equivalent” to their non-GMO counterparts).
A new peer reviewed study (Item 1), based on a computational systems biology analysis, has found that the genetic modification/engineering of soy disrupts the plant’s natural ability to control stress and causes an accumulation of formaldehyde, a known Class 1 carcinogen, as well as a dramatic depletion of glutathione, an important anti-oxidant necessary for cellular detoxification. Systems biology looks at the complexity of the whole organism as a system rather than just studying its parts, which the authors contend would provide a framework for more appropriate criteria to measure how GMOs affect the emergent properties of a whole system.
The study concludes the U.S. government’s current standard for safety assessment of GMOs, based on the principle of “substantial equivalence,” is outdated and unscientific for genetically engineered food as it was originally developed for assessing the safety of medical devices in the 1970s. If formaldehyde and glutathione were used as distinguishing criteria, the GM soy would likely not be deemed “equivalent” to its non-GMO counterpart. This calls into question the FDA’s food safety standards for the entire country. (Item 2)
The study underscores the urgent need to modernize safety assessments of GMOs, and the author argues that “This is not a pro- or anti-GMO question. But, are we following the scientific method to ensure the safety of our food supply? Right now, the answer is ‘no’. We need to, and we can, if we engage in open, transparent, and collaborative scientific discourse, based on a systems biology approach.”

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