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`Honey from genetically modified plants: integrity of pollen DNA, and expression of promoters in floral organs.` - FS0203
There has been concern over the possible consumer health and
safety implications of transgenes in pollen and other plant
reproductive structures entering the human food chain.
ACNFP highlights two potential risks: the transfer of intact
transgenes from DNA present in GM derived foods to gut
microflora, and the presence in pollen or nectar of
transgenic proteins which may have adverse effects on human
health if ingested.
The aim is to address both these issues by determining the
degree of integrity of pollen derived DNA in honey, and the
expression of transgenes used for plant transformation in
honey-relevant tissues such as nectaries and pollen. They
will examine the DNA integrity both electrophoretically and
by PCR amplification. Transgenes will be selected on the
basis of their current and future use for transformation of
crop plants used in field trials and aimed at future
commercial releases which might result in entry of GM
proteins into honey. Their expression in honey-relevant
tissues will be assessed using reporter genes and RT-PCR. A
worst case scenario will be considered in order to estimate
the contribution of GM derived proteins in honey.
1) To determine the size of DNA from GM and non-GM honey
samples, comparing honeys from different geographical
origins, and different prpocessing states (eg pasteurised
and non-pasteurised honey). To determine the size of DNA in
other pollen derived products: eg pollen capsules and
trapped corbicular pollen products.
2) To further investigate DNA size using PCR in order to
detect even very low levels of higher molecular weight DNA.
3) By using specific primers, to determine whether particul
ar transgenes in samples of honey containing GM pollen are
4) To review both currently used promoters in GM plants that
have reached release stages and data available on
expression levels in honey-related plant tissues. To
formulate a strategy in consultation with MAFF for assessing
the likelihood of GM proteins being incorporated into
5) To undertake experimental work to asssess the likehood of
GM proteins being incorporated into honey by assessing
transgene expression in honey-relevant tissues of
honey-relevant plant species.
6) To attempt an estimate of the levels of GM derived prote
ins likely to be found in honey in a worst-case scenario
such as a transgene expressed to high levels in pollen.
Time-Scale and Cost
Contractor / Funded Organisations