The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) has developed a decision tree that provides a framework for risk assessment in foods (Lehrer, 2000). It uses the following criteria, that an introduced protein in a food is not a concern if: (i) there is no history of common allergenicity; (ii) there is no amino acid sequence similar to those of known allergens; (iii) there is rapid digestion of the protein; and (iv) the protein is expressed at low levels. For example, these risk assessment techniques were used to test the safety of increasing the protein content in soybean by introducing a protein from Brazil nut. However, food allergy tests showed that this transferred a potential allergen to soybean. Hence, further development of this GM high-protein soybean ceased.
The techniques for assessing the potential for allergenicity, toxicity and carcinogens in food are well established and should be readily able to be used by trained professionals in many countries (Metcalf et al., 1996; Lehrer, 2000). Given increasing global concerns about food safety, all countries will need to have in place food-safety regulations and the human and institutional capacity to be able to ensure the safety of their food supply (World Bank, 2000).
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