"Substantial equivalence" is one of the great dogmas of the GM debate -- and because it is accepted without question by regulators worldwide, the GM industry has been allowed to operate within a pathetically feeble regulatory regime. Well, many people have argued that "substantial equivalence" is a myth and a commercial scam, which has nothing to do with science -- and now the evidence to support this view is stacking up.
In response to the harmful effects seen in animals fed on GM materials, the GM industry has tried to claim that gut lesions produced in GM feeding experiments are produced by biochemicals which are "normal" in both GM and non-GM plants. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the damage is caused by biochemicals occurring in far smaller quantity, produced as a result of the stress put on the plant by various aspects of the recombinant DNA technology.
Comment from Dr Michael Antoniou: The attached papers demonstrate what type of detailed analysis can now be done. Even by current gross analysis no GM crop is found to be "substantially equivalent" to its non-GM isogenic parental line if the two are grown appropriately side-by-side at the same time and conditions to minimise environmentally induced variables and so isolate and reveal the effect of the GM transformation process. With this more advanced fine analytical work I predict that even greater differences between GM and non-GM equivalent cultivars will be found. The Zolla paper is particularly revealing and informative; it is also worrying as it pertains to a GM maize (MON810) approved many years ago for commercial growing and which animals and people have been eating for years. Based on this study it is obvious that a re-evaluation is needed! The Jiao study on GM rice concludes: "The unintended compositional alterations as well as unintended change of physical characteristic in transgenic rice compared with nontransgenic rice might be related to the genetic transformation, the effect of which needs to be elucidated by additional studies." I could not put it better myself!
by Lello Zolla, Sara Rinalducci, Paolo Antonioli, and Pier Giorgio Righetti
Journal of Proteome Research 2008, 7, 1850–1861 Received August 6, 2007
To improve the probability of detecting unintended side effects during maize gene manipulations by bombardment, proteomics was used as an analytical tool complementary to the existing safety assessment techniques. Since seed proteome is highly dynamic, depending on the species variability and environmental influence, we analyzed the proteomic profiles of one transgenic maize variety (event MON 810) in two subsequent generations (T05 and T06) with their respective isogenic controls (WT05 and WT06). Thus, by comparing the proteomic profiles of WT05 with WT06 we could determine the environmental effects, while the comparison between WT06 and T06 seeds from plants grown under controlled conditions enabled us to investigate the effects of DNA manipulation. Finally, by comparison of T05 with T06 seed proteomes, it was possible to get some indications about similarities and differences between the adaptations of transgenic and isogenic plants to the same strictly controlled growth environment. Approximately 100 total proteins resulted differentially modulated in the expression level as a consequence of the environmental influence (WT06 vs WT05), whereas 43 proteins resulted up- or down-regulated in transgenic seeds with respect to their controls (T06 vs WT06), which could be specifically related to the insertion of a single gene into a maize genome by particle bombardment. Transgenic seeds responded differentially to the same environment as compared to their respective isogenic controls, as a result of the genome rearrangement derived from gene insertion. To conclude, an exhaustive differential proteomic analysis allows to determine similarities and differences between traditional food and new products (substantial equivalence), and a case-by-case assessment of the new food should be carried out in order to have a wide knowledge of its features.
by ZHE JIAO, XIAO-XI SI, GONG-KE LI, ZHUO-MIN ZHANG, AND XIN-PING XU
J. Agric. Food Chem. 2010, 58, 1746–1754
Unintended compositional changes in transgenic rice seeds were studied by near-infrared reflectance, GC-MS, HPLC, and ICP-AES coupled with chemometrics strategies. Three kinds of transgenic rice with resistance to fungal diseases or insect pests were comparatively studied with the nontransgenic counterparts in terms of key nutrients such as protein, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, elements, and antinutrient phytic acid recommended by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The compositional profiles were discriminated by chemometrics methods, and the discriminatory compounds were protein, three amino acids, two fatty acids, two vitamins, and several elements. Significance of differences for these compounds was proved by analysis of variance, and the variation extent ranged from 20 to 74% for amino acids, from 19 to 38% for fatty acids, from 25 to 57% for vitamins, from 20 to 50% for elements, and 25% for protein, whereas phytic acid content did not change significantly. The unintended compositional alterations as well as unintended change of physical characteristic in transgenic rice compared with nontransgenic rice might be related to the genetic transformation, the effect of which needs to be elucidated by additional studies.