Metabolomics and the Detection of Unintended Effects in Genetically Modified Crops

  • Laetitia Shintu
  • Gwénaëlle Le Gall
  • Ian J. Colquhoun


The chapter describes current procedures for the safety assessment of genetically modified crops and foods. The concepts of substantial equivalence, the conventional comparator, and intended and unintended effects are introduced. Most published examples of substantial equivalence testing deal with crops that have been modified for insect resistance or herbicide tolerance. A standard procedure has developed based on broadly similar field trial designs, sampling schemes and targeted analyses of a consensus set of compounds for each crop. The main characteristics of the procedure are summarised with reference to published analyses of this type of crop and different statistical approaches to judging ‘equivalence’ are discussed.

There is a current trend towards development of crops with enhanced nutritional properties or health-related benefits through genetic modification of metabolic pathways. These more complex modifications have greater potential for introducing unpredictable unintended effects, and it may be advisable to supplement current targeted analysis procedures with metabolomics methods. The second part of the chapter discusses the application of metabolomics to substantial equivalence testing. As yet there is no standard procedure for this approach so individual studies, which differ greatly in size and scope, are discussed. The major analytical techniques (GC/MS, LC/MS and NMR) are briefly described and examples of their use are given: a few studies have shown how the massive amounts of data produced by non-targeted profiling methods may be treated to judge equivalence. Some limitations need to be overcome before metabolomics can be adopted as part of the official safety assessment procedure.


High Performance Liquid Chromatography Linear Discriminant Analysis Metabolic Profile Unintended Effect Safety Assessment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.





Analysis of Variance


Association of Analytical Communities


Correlation Spectroscopy


Direct Injection Mass Spectrometry


Degree of Polymerisation


European Food Safety Authority


Electrospray Ionisation


Food and Agriculture Organisation/ World Health Organisation


Flow Injection Electrospray Mass Spectrometry


Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry


Fourier Transform Infrared


Gas Chromatography/ Flame Ionisation Detector


Gas Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry


Gas Chromatography-Time of Flight-Mass Spectrometry


Genetically Modified


Heteronuclear Multiple Bond Correlation


High Performance Liquid Chromatography


Heteronuclear Single Quantum Coherence


International Life Sciences Institute


Liquid Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry


Linear Discriminant Analysis


Magic Angle Spinning


Nuclear Magnetic Resonance


Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development


Principal Component


Principal Component Analysis


Partial Least Squares


Partial Least Squares-Discriminant Analysis


Retention Time


Standard Deviation


Solid Phase Extraction


Total Correlation Spectroscopy




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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laetitia Shintu
    • 1
  • Gwénaëlle Le Gall
    • 1
  • Ian J. Colquhoun
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Food ResearchNorwich Research ParkNorwichUK

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