GM Free Cymru

A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants

Environment International Volume 37, Issue 4, May 2011, Pages 734-742 Review José L. Domingo and Jordi Giné Bordonaba

Received 5 November 2010;

accepted 10 January 2011. Available online 5 February 2011.


In recent years, there has been a notable concern on the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods/plants, an important and complex area of research, which demands rigorous standards. Diverse groups including consumers and environmental Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) have suggested that all GM foods/plants should be subjected to long-term animal feeding studies before approval for human consumption. In 2000 and 2006, we reviewed the information published in international scientific journals, noting that the number of references concerning human and animal toxicological/health risks studies on GM foods/plants was very limited. The main goal of the present review was to assess the current state-of-the-art regarding the potential adverse effects/safety assessment of GM plants for human consumption. The number of citations found in databases (PubMed and Scopus) has dramatically increased since 2006. However, new information on products such as potatoes, cucumber, peas or tomatoes, among others was not available. Corn/maize, rice, and soybeans were included in the present review. An equilibrium in the number research groups suggesting, on the basis of their studies, that a number of varieties of GM products (mainly maize and soybeans) are as safe and nutritious as the respective conventional non-GM plant, and those raising still serious concerns, was currently observed. Nevertheless, it should be noted that most of these studies have been conducted by biotechnology companies responsible of commercializing these GM plants. These findings suggest a notable advance in comparison with the lack of studies published in recent years in scientific journals by those companies. All this recent information is herein critically reviewed.

Research Highlights
► Studies specifically addressing safety assessment of GM plants are still limited.
► Published literature on GM plants over the past 4 years concerns only 3 products.
► More efforts are required to build confidence in the evaluation/acceptance of GM plants.