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Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects
Currently, there are two basic analytical approaches available to detect compositional changes in food. Targeted quantitative analysis is the traditional approach in which a method is established to quantify a predefined compound or class of compounds. In contrast, profiling methods involve the untargeted analysis of a complex mixture of compounds extracted from a biological sample with the objective of identifying and quantifying all compounds present in a sample. Advanced chemical and genetic profiling techniques—using molecular genetic, proteomic (analysis of complete complements of proteins), and metabolomic (global analysis of nonpeptide small molecules) approaches—are rapidly developing to produce technologies with the potential to provide an enormous amount of data for a given organism, tissue, or food product.
Despite these technological advances in analytical chemistry, our ability to interpret the consequences to human health of changes in food composition is limited. Compositional changes can be readily detected in food and the power of profiling methodologies is rapidly increasing our ability to demonstrate compositional differences among foods. The complexity of food composition challenges the ability of modern analytical chemistry and bioinformatics to chemically identify and determine the biological relevance of the many compositional changes that occur.
METHODS TO ASSESS THE POTENTIAL HUMAN CONSEQUENCES OF UNINTENDED COMPOSITIONAL CHANGES IN FOOD
The major challenges to predicting and assessing unintended adverse health effects of genetically modified (GM) foods—including those that are genetically engineered—are underscored by the severe imbalances between highly advanced analytical technologies and limited abilities to interpret their results and predict health effects that result from the consumption of food that is genetically modified, either by traditional or more modern technologies. The present state of knowledge requires that approaches for assessing the occurrence and significance