As well as possible gains, there are a number of potential safety issues connecting to GM foods. These foods might directly threaten the health of individual consumers by containing allergens or toxins, or producing food of abridged nutritional value. They may pose threats to human populations, for instance, through the development of antibiotic resistance, or to the environment, such as promoting the development of herbicide-resistant weeds.
- There is no proof that, in general, GM foods will be more or less allergenic than their corresponding conventional foods. However, because GM involves the transfer of genes that may code for proteins not usually present, it is possible to transfer allegenicity from the host to the new variety in specific situations, and hence give an allergen in a food to which an individual was not previously allergic. It is argued that GM might create or unmask new immunoreactive structures. In these example, the gene source might not be a known allergen, hence the traditional forms of inmmunological testing would not be appropriate. There is currently no completely reliable and objective method, either using animal testing or chemical analysis, to assess or predict the possible allergenicity of a novel protein. (Wal 168)Research is progressing to decide whether food allergens may share physicochemical properties that can differentiate them from non-allergens. If this is the case, these properties may be used as a tool to predict the inherent allergenicity of proteins recently introduced into the food supply by GM.
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