Gijs A. Kleter - Articles and news items

Herbicide residues in genetically modified, herbicide-resistant crops

Issue 2 2012  •  1 May 2012  •  Gijs A Kleter, RIKILT; John B Unsworth, Private Consultant and Caroline A Harris, Exponent International

Global agriculture has witnessed a continuously increasing adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops, both in terms of the area covered with these crops and the number of countries where these crops are grown. In 2011, the total worldwide acreage of these crops amounted to 160 million hectares, with the top 10 countries growing them located in the Americas (USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay), Asia (India, China, Pakistan), and South Africa. The most popular GM crops are major commodity crops, in particular soybean, maize, cotton and canola. The major traits that have been introduced into these crops through genetic modification are herbicide resistance and insect resistance1.

A previous article discussed the internationally harmonised principles for the safety assessment of GM foods, which commonly has to be carried out before these foods can be allowed onto the market in many nations2. One of the issues mentioned then but not elaborated (because it falls under the scope of the parallel regulation of pesticides) is the potential for the new or altered presence of pesticide residues in GM crops. In this article, we highlight the issues surrounding the presence of residues of herbicide active ingredients and their metabolites in herbicideresistant GM crops.

Herbicides are pesticides that contain active ingredients that are toxic to some types of plant, for which reason they can be used to combat weeds, which are non-crop plants growing in crop fields.

Preparing for the safety issues surrounding genetically modified animals that are to be used for producing foods

Issue 4 2010  •  26 August 2010  •  Gijs A. Kleter, RIKILT – Institute of Food Safety, Wageningen University and Research Centre

Genetically modified (GM) crops that are used for producing human food and animal feed are grown on a continuously increasing scale around the globe. Their worldwide acreage reached 134 million hectares in 2009, most of which was located in North and South America, China, India and South Africa, and growth is likely to continue1. Before these crops are allowed onto the market, they have to receive regulatory approval from the national authorities in many countries. Part of the procedure for obtaining approval usually is an assessment of the safety of the pertinent GM crops.

According to the regulations, the same applies to other GM organisms, such as micro-organisms and animals. Whereas food-producing GM animals have not reached the market yet, there are indications that, in nations outside the EU, this may become a reality in the near future. It is therefore important that the regulatory authorities prepare themselves for reviewing the safety of these GM animals. Below, the potential issues with regard to the food safety of GM animals are reviewed.

Assessing the safety of genetically modified crops used for food and feed purposes

Issue 1 2009  •  20 February 2009  •  Gijs A. Kleter, RIKILT – Institute of Food Safety, Wageningen University and Research Center

In the mid-nineties, genetically modified crops (GM) that had been obtained through recombinant DNA technology were grown commercially at a large scale for the first time. The agricultural area that is covered with these crops has since then grown steadily, reaching 114 million hectares globally in 20072. GM crops and the foods and animal feed that are derived from them commonly have to be approved for marketing, for which they also have to undergo a safety assessment.


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