Biotech Updates

EFSA Evaluates Risk Assessment Guidelines for Synthetic Biology GM Plant Developments

July 27, 2022

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a scientific opinion on the existing guidelines for food and feed risk assessment of genetically modified plants developed using synthetic biology.

EFSA defines synthetic biology (synbio) as an interdisciplinary field at the interface of molecular engineering and biology aiming to develop new biological systems and impart new functions to living cells, tissues, and organisms. It has potential applications in agri-food systems, thus, products derived from synbio require pre-market permit based on the GMO legislation of the European Union (EU). The European Commission defined terms of reference and hypothetical case studies to evaluate the adequacy and sufficiency of the current guidelines for food and feed risk assessment of GM plants developed using synbio.

The EFSA GMO Panel concluded the following:

  • previous conclusions on new sectors/advances in the agri-food system among synbio GM plant developments are still applicable;
  • no novel potential hazards and risks for humans and animals could be posed by food and feed from GM plants developed from current and near-future synbio approaches identified;
  • the existing guidelines are adequate and sufficient in some synbio applications; and
  • safety assessment of new proteins and comparative analysis need updating.

Based on these conclusions, the GMO Panel recommends that future guidance documents provide indications on how to integrate the knowledge available from the synbio design and modeling in the food and feed risk assessment. It also encourages due consideration of food and feed safety aspects to facilitate the assessment of synbio GM plants and lessen the amount of data required.

Read the full article from EFSA.

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