Research revisiting the safety of GM weevil-resistant peas in mice contradicts previous risk assessment findings

Jan 10, 2013
Research revisiting the safety of GM weevil-resistant peas in mice contradicts previous risk assessment findings

(Phys.org)—Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna have conducted feeding trials with mice to investigate the allergenicity of genetically modified (GM) weevil-resistant peas. Development of the peas was discontinued in 2005 when a risk assessment conducted by the CSIRO and Australian National University showed negative reactions in mice to the peas (Prescott et al 2005).

Field peas are an important rotation crop, which can be devastated by pea (Bruchus pisorum) infestation. Unlike peas, beans are not attacked by pea weevils as they contain a protein called α-amylase inhibitor (αAI) that causes the weevils feeding on beans to starve before they cause any damage.The team of Medical University of Vienna investigated immune responses in fed several varieties of beans, non-transgenic peas and the transgenic peas, expressing the bean or the transgenic versions of the α-amylase inhibitor. The mice showed similar levels of immune response no matter which food they consumed. Dr. Michelle Epstein, the lead researcher said, "We observed that the in mice was the same no matter whether the inhibitor came from beans, where it naturally occurs, or from peas to express the inhibitor and even in non-transgenic peas." "These results demonstrate that αAI transgenic peas are no more allergenic than beans or non-transgenic peas in mice" Dr. Epstein added.

The Prescott study is regularly cited by those on both sides of the GM debate as an example of either the inherent dangers of genetically modified foods or the effectiveness of pre-market studies in identifying potential . studies for genetically modified organism (GMO) safety have recently been in the news. Seralini et al. showed untoward effects in rats fed GM corn but these studies were fraught with problems and add to the controversy of using rodents to study GMO safety (see EFSA report). "The study is important because it illustrates the significance of repeating experiments in independent laboratories" Dr. Epstein said."It is also vital that investigators are aware of potential unexpected crossreactive allergic responses upon the consumption of plant products, as we found in the non-transgenic peas".

Dr. Epstein questions the utility of rodents for evaluating biotech crops and points out that the MUV results highlight the importance of a careful case-by-case evaluation of GM crops, and the role science can play in decision-making around the introduction of GMOs into the food system.This research was conducted at the Medical University of Vienna as part of the European Commission Framework 7-funded GMSAFOOD project.

Explore further: Researchers explain mystery of cereal grain defense

More information: PLOS ONE: dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0052972

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Destructive pea weevils on the way out

Oct 24, 2012

(Phys.org)—Farmers around the world are a step closer to eliminating the chemical spraying of field peas for the destructive pea weevil, thanks to research by agricultural scientists from The University ...

Astronomy without a telescope - Green peas

Oct 25, 2011

The ground-breaking discovery of a new class of galaxies, Green Peas, in 2009 by a group of Galaxy Zoo volunteers – have recently been followed up by further observations in the radio spectrum. ...

GMO maize strain safe: EU food agency

Jun 30, 2009

A genetically modified strain of maize, banned in some EU countries, poses no risk to health or the environment, the European Food Safety Authority declared Tuesday.

Recommended for you

'Most famous wheat gene' found

Sep 15, 2014

Washington State University researchers have found "the most famous wheat gene," a reproductive traffic cop of sorts that can be used to transfer valuable genes from other plants to wheat.

Mosses survive climate catastrophes

Sep 15, 2014

Mosses have existed on Earth for more than 400 million years. During this period they survived many climate catastrophes that wiped out more robust organisms such as, for example, dinosaurs. Recently, British ...

Final pieces to the circadian clock puzzle found

Sep 14, 2014

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have discovered how two genes – Period and Cryptochrome – keep the circadian clocks in all human cells in time and in proper rhythm with the 24-hour day, as well ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2013
Yippee! More GMO for the Luddites to eschew and me to chew!

Unfortunately, today's watchword is 'research until the desired conclusion is validated.'

Unfortunately, today's "scientific method" (yes, scare quotes) reverses logic as the conclusion precedes the syllogism back to the supporting premises only.
Kev_C
1 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2013
Sounds like the pea study was a resounding success for the science we don't actually need.
2008 we produced globally enough food to feed 12 billion people. Yes '12 Billion'. So why do we need to produce more when the global population is only 7.5 billion?
Second point which this biased report states(incorrectly) is that there were problems with Seralini's research. Well actually there was no problem with his research. The problem was with the naysayers from the biotech companies and their shills who wrote a letter condemning Seralini's research (without foundations I might add) and demanded erroneously that it be retracted. Sounds like another Arpad Pusztai job to me. Remember the GM Potatoes?
In fact the problem was with the original Monsanto research. It was short term and deeply flawed. They actually used the same rats and the EFSA is now under scrutiny for approving a GM Crop based on dodgy research from Monsanto.
Still want to chew on those GM Peas? More fool you.