QIs there good evidence that inserting genes of allergenic organisms into those that dont normally contain them will not cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to specific allergens, e.g. soy?

Is there good evidence that inserting genes of allergenic organisms into those that dont normally contain them will not cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to specific allergens, e.g. soy?

AExpert Answer

The allergenicity issue with respect to products derived from biotechnology has been closely considered in the development of the regulatory process for these products. I want to highlight the US Food and Drug Administration's 1992 Statement of Policy - Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties to ensure that relevant scientific, safety, and regulatory issues are resolved prior to the introduction of such products into the marketplace. In this statement, FDA has specifically focused on allergy issues and requires companies to analyze the proteins they are using in the biotech process to determine if they are allergenic.  The scenario featured below is a great example of how this process works and shows that a researcher isolated and identified an allergenic protein to be used to improve a soybean crop, but the experiment was cut short and no product was ever developed from this research.

 

In September 2002 the Society of Toxicology approved a Position Paper titled The Safety of Genetically Modified Foods Produced through Biotechnology.  In that Paper, SOT noted that

 

“The only documented case where a human allergen was introduced into a food component by genetic engineering occurred when attempts were made to improve the nutritional quality of soybeans using a Brazil nut protein, the methionine-rich 2S albumin. Allergies to the Brazil nut have been documented (Arshad et al., 1991), and while still in pre-commercial development, testing of these new soybeans for allergenicity was conducted in university and industrial laboratories. It was found that serum from people allergic to Brazil nuts also reacted to the new soybean (Nordlee et al., 1996). Once this was discovered, further development of the new soybean variety was halted and it was never marketed. This work led to the identification of the major protein associated with Brazil nut allergy which was previously unknown (Nordlee et al., 1996). 

 

It is also important to note that allergens have always been listed on food labels, but this subsequent labeling law allows food manufacturers to use several ways to list allergens on food labels.  Additionally, if a product derived from biotechnology should somehow create a new or known allergen, then that product would have to be labeled as such to inform food allergic consumers.

 

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), which took effect January 1, 2006, requires that the labels of foods (including conventional foods, dietary supplements, infant formula, and medical foods) containing major food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy) note the allergen in plain language.

Posted on February 28, 2018
Some companies do voluntarily have statements that products have ingredients sourced from crops grown from genetically engineered seeds. Some examples are statements like, “Produced with genetic engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” that appear under the list of ingredients.  Read More
Answer:
Posted on July 30, 2018
Genetic engineering (GE) touches on the routine life of billions of people (but not everyone). Food, clothes, and medicine are commonly made with the help of genetically engineered organisms. Certain medicines, like insulin, could only be mass-produced this way. Fiber for clothes is made less expensive thanks to GE cotton plants. You also PROBABLY sometimes eat plants with a few engineered genes, depending on where you live. But genetic engineering isn’t just for making new or better... Read More
Answer:
Posted on February 28, 2018
This is an important question! Of course scientists wouldn't want to release any plants or products that would be harmful to humans. The first part of the answer is that I'm not aware of ANY examples of released GMOs hurting human bodies. In fact, GMO (or genetically engineered, GE) crops have actually helped both plants and human health, by making harvests more efficient and reducing the need to spray harmful pesticides. Safety to humans is an important part of the... Read More
Answer: