ing, will continue to develop and improve independent of the need to apply these methods to the assessment of genetically modified (GM) and genetically engineered (GE) foods.

Advanced molecular genetic, proteomic, and metabolite profiling techniques are rapidly developing technologies that have the potential to provide an enormous amount of data for a given organism, tissue, or food product. The levels of analysis include:

  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence analysis (i.e., the complete sequence of an organism’s genome or the targeted sequencing of a transgene insertion site to determine whether insertion into the genome is in a location likely to affect the expression of adjacent genes).

  • Gene expression analysis to determine alterations in the levels of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) species.

  • Protein analysis to determine the pattern, identity, and relative abundance of specific proteins (i.e., Are proteins of catalytic, allergenic, or toxicological concern present?).

  • Specific organic compounds, especially small molecules and trace elements whose presence, pattern of relative concentrations, and absolute concentration provide information of nutritional, antinutritional, and toxicological relevance.

In theory, these data sets could be used, singly or in combination, in comparative studies to assess the nutritional quality and chemical composition of food in relationship to the environment, genetics, naturally occurring or induced mutations, and genetic engineering. A possible secondary benefit is the generation of a wealth of data that may ultimately contribute to a better understanding of the fundamental linkages between food composition and health.

An ideal situation for any analytical procedure would provide the following information:

  • The absolute structural identification of all compounds in a sample being analyzed.

  • The absolute quantification of all compounds, taking into account varying recovery and detection sensitivity for each compound in the sample.

  • The biological or biochemical impact of each compound (positive, neutral, or negative) in isolation and in a complex mixture at a given dosage.

  • The relative nutritional (or antinutritional) importance in the human diet of a compound from a given food, and the significance of modifying the concentration of this compound, on the overall nutrient profile of the general population.

  • The ability to perform predictive modeling of the changes to a target food organism’s metabolism and physiology as the result of a transgenic event and predictive modeling of the biological consequences of these changes to human health.

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