Line 4Line 4 Copyic/close/grey600play_circle_outline - material


The following article is the best argument against GMOs Ive seen so far. This article claims that GM crops are not tested for immune risks the way these peas were. Can you comment on the process that is used to evaluate the safety of GM crops? httpwww.responsibletechnology.orgfraudfaultyregulationsGeneticallyModifiedPeasCausedDangerousImmuneResponseinMiceNovemberDecember2005

Submitted by: Wylliam Judd


Expert response from Andrew Bartholomaeus

B.Pharm, PhD, Cert Ag (III)

Tuesday, 30/09/2014 19:33

The study referred to is that of Prescott et al. (2005), “Characterization of the structure and immunogenicity of bean α-amylase inhibitor (α AI) when expressed in peas,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 53: 9023–9030.

The study authors concluded from their work that the expression of a bean α-amylase in peas can lead to the synthesis of a modified form of the protein with altered antigenic properties, and that exposure of the GI tract in mice to the modified α-amylase, along with heterogeneous food antigens, cross-primes and elicits immunogenicity. The authors have no known links to anti-GM activist groups and did not receive any funding from organic marketers or anti-GM fund-raising organizations, so their conclusions are likely to be a genuine scientific opinion on the results as obtained. As is so often true in science, one paper does not define the truth. Scientific publications are a conversation where, mostly, genuine scientists honestly discuss issues and try to define and characterize the true situation. The Prescott paper was considered by the Australian and New Zealand food authority, which noted:


"The GM peas were still in the research and development phase and were never submitted to FSANZ (or elsewhere) for food safety assessment and approval. The α AI protein was therefore never assessed for potential allergenicity, as would be standard for any GM food safety assessment. Following publication of this study, the developer of the GM peas, CSIRO, announced they were ending the research program.

“While the results show that a modified form of the α AI protein had been produced in the GM peas, and this modified protein produced an altered immune response when fed to mice, they do not show that the mice became ‘allergic’ to the modified protein, as is often asserted. The animal model used by the study authors has not been validated to predict human immune or allergic responses and the authors make no such predictions. It is therefore not clear what relevance (if any) the findings have in relation to human food allergy."


The relevance of the Prescott study is further diminished by the results of a more recent study, Lee et al., released in 2013, that casts doubt on the findings: “Genetically modified α-amylase inhibitor peas are not specifically allergenic in mice,” PLoS ONE 8(1): e52972. Lee et al. repeated the experimental work of Prescott et al. (2005) but were unable to duplicate the results. They concluded that transgenic peas containing α AI are not more allergenic in mice than either beans or nontransgenic peas.

A critical fact consistently, and tellingly, omitted by the anti-GM groups is that beans and peas (both GM and non-GM) all elicit an immunogenic response in mice. Consequently, the immune responses observed in the Prescott study are not specific to biotechnology. The relevance of these immune responses in mice to humans is unknown. If the response in mice were of concern, then that concern would be equally valid for both GM and non-GM beans and peas. In this regard, GM peas would be as safe as conventional peas.