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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 still intact. 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 honey. 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
From: 1995

To: 1997

Cost: £62,604
Contractor / Funded Organisations