Food Safety


The meeting was held on Thursday, March 5, from 12:30 pm-6:15 pm Eastern at the National Academy of Sciences Keck Center.

The committee heard about the current state of knowledge on the safety of foods made with genetically engineered ingredients. Speakers represented the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the European Food Safety Authority. Experts also presented on the evaluation of risks of allergy and potential effects on the gastrointestinal tract of GE foods.

This was an information-gathering meeting for the committee in which the speakers are invited to provide input to the committee.

View agenda here

Meeting Recap: This Storify collects the tweets and online discussion that took place at the meeting.

Click the links below to view videos of the presentations and discussions.

Welcome and Intro to the Study Process of the National Research Council

Fred Gould, Committee Chair, University Distinguished Professor of Entomology and Codirector of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University and Kara Laney, Study Director, National Research Council

Panel on Food Safety: Regulatory Perspectives

Jason Dietz, Policy Analyst, Office of Food Additive Safety, Food and Drug Administration–Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. bio

Jason Dietz coordinates cross-cutting biotechnology-related activities in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. In this role he regularly provides technical and policy input regarding plant biotechnology issues. Mr. Dietz has also served FDA as a consumer safety officer working on projects related to the safety of foods derived from genetically engineered organisms.

William L. Jordan, Deputy Director for Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency– Office of Pesticide Programs. bio

William L. Jordan currently serves as the Deputy Director for Programs in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). He works on a wide variety of cross-cutting science and policy issues in areas such as food safety, protections for subjects in human research, pesticide labeling, endangered species protection, and nanotechnology. Mr. Jordan has worked in OPP since 1988, where he played a major role in the development of the legislation which became the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. He was responsible for coordinating the development of documents describing major science policies EPA applies in implementing this law. In addition, he has been involved in many diverse policy and regulatory actions affecting pesticides, from the implementation of the worker protection standard to trade policy to data requirement regulations. He has served throughout OPP as Director of the Policy and Special Projects Staff, acting Director of the Field Operations Division, Associate Director of the Antimicrobials Division, and Senior Policy Adviser. Prior to OPP, Mr. Jordan worked in EPA’s Office of General Counsel on pesticide and water program activities. He was also a staff member of the President’s Council for a National Agenda for the Eighties. He has a law degree from Georgetown University and an undergraduate degree from Princeton University.

John Kough, Senior Scientist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency–Office of Pesticide Programs. bio

John Kough joined EPA in 1989 and has worked since then for the biotechnology programs in the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. In his work with OPP, Dr. Kough has reviewed the scientific data submitted for all the plant pesticides and many microbial pesticides currently registered, presented EPA’s position at numerous Scientific Advisory Panels, and helped write sections of EPA’s plant-incorporated protectants rule. Dr. Kough received EPA’s Seifter Award for his role in the human health risk assessment of the products of biotechnology. Prior to joining EPA, Dr. Kough was a research project director at IGEN, a biotechnology company specializing in developing monoclonal antibodies for several plant diseases. He received a B.A. degree in biology from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and a Ph.D. degree in plant pathology from Oregon State University. Dr. Kough did an NSF post-doctoral fellowship in Dijon, France, where he researched Fusarium suppressive soils and the physiology of endomycorrhizal fungi. Dr. Kough was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and raised in the Allegheny Mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Anna Lanzoni, Senior Scientific Officer, European Food Safety Authority–GMO Unit 2:25. bio

Anna Lanzoni is a Senior Scientific Officer in the GMO Unit of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). She is involved in the risk assessment of genetically modified food and feed in the context of European Regulatory framework. In particular she supports the evaluation of toxicological and animal feeding studies provided in dossiers submitted. She is a toxicologic pathologist by training, and before joining EFSA in 2013, she worked at GlaxoSmithKline from 1992 to 2010 supporting the research and development on potential new medicines. Specifically she worked as a toxicologic pathologist in the Safety Assessment/Toxicological Department supporting the preclinical development of new molecules and acting as a safety assessment representative in team projects. In this context, she also participated in the setup and validation of animal models of disease (such as atherosclerosis, stroke, infection rodent models), with particular focus on translation of results to human beings. From 2010 to 2013 she worked for a contract research organisation as Head of Toxicological Pathology. She served as vice president of the Italian Society of Toxicologic Pathology from 2007 to 2010. Dr. Lanzoni holds a DVM from Parma University, Italy, and a Ph.D. in veterinary hygiene from the Milan University, Italy.

Committee Discussion with Presenters

Panel on Food Safety: Potential Health Outcomes

Evaluating GE food sources for risks of allergy: Methods, gaps, and perspectives

Richard Goodman, Research Professor, Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. bio

Richard Goodman joined the Department of Food Science and Technology in the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) in August 2004 as a research professor. His laboratory performs research to identify allergenic proteins and evaluate the relative allergenicity of genetically modified (GM) crops and processed food fractions and on methods improvements for the safety assessment of GM crops. His research focuses on IgE cross-reactivity, measuring endogenous allergens in commodity crops, developing and assessing the safety of GM crops and evaluation of an animal model for allergic sensitization. Dr. Goodman directs the database project at UNL (since 2004). From 1997 to 2004, he was an allergy program manager for the safety assessment of genetically modified crops at Monsanto Company. Prior to that, he was a research scientist in pulmonary immunology (T cells and antigen presenting cells in pulmonary fibrosis, defense against microbes, and rejection of transplanted organs) at the University of Michigan from 1993 to 1997. He participated in the Codex Task Force Working group that developed the 2003 guidelines and is senior author of a number of peer reviewed articles on the overall process of the GM allergenicity assessment. Dr. Goodman serves as an Associate Editor for Food and Chemical Toxicology, focusing on manuscripts relating to biotechnology. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology and a member of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology as well as the American Chemical Society and the Institute of Food Technologists. He obtained a Ph.D. in dairy science from The Ohio State University in 1990, focusing on molecular biology, and postdoctoral training in immunology and parasitology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Potential perturbances of gastrointestinal tract mucosa of GE foods

Alessio Fasano, Vice Chair of Basic, Clinical and Translational Research and Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, MassGeneral Hospital for Children. bio

Alessio Fasano, M.D., is a world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist, research scientist, and entreprenuer. He is director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). His visionary research has led to the awareness of celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders as a growing public health problem in the United States and worldwide. His prevalence study published in 2003 established the rate of celiac disease at 1 in 133 Americans. As visiting professor at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at MGHfC, Dr. Fasano treats both children and adults for gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy. A passionate advocate for collaboration in research and clinical work, Dr. Fasano recently authored Gluten Freedom to provide patients, healthcare providers, and general readers an evidence-based yet entertaining book to dispel some of the current confusion about gluten and how it can affect your health.

Metabolomic analysis to confirm effects of transgenesis in plants

Timothy Tschaplinski, Distinguished Research Scientist and Group Leader, Metabolomics and Bioconversion, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. bio

Timothy Tschaplinski is the Metabolomics and Bioconversion Group Leader in the Biosciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, TN. Dr. Tschaplinski graduated with his Ph.D. in forestry from the University of Toronto in 1987 and, after completing his postdoctoral studies at ORNL, he was hired as a Research Staff Member in 1990. He is a plant molecular physiologist experienced in biochemistry, specifically the application of mass spectrometry to research problems in genomics, bioenergy crop production, environmental stress physiology, and plant-microbe signaling. Current research includes metabolomics for phenotypic characterization of genetically-modified Populus, Arabidopsis, Eucalyptus, Castanea sp. (American and Chinese chestnut), switchgrass, and numerous bioenergy-relevant microbial species, and coupling metabolomics with genome-wide association studies to identify gene function. Research targets include the application of genomic tools for the accelerated domestication of Populus to reduce biomass recalcitrance to microbial deconstruction, increase drought tolerance and biomass productivity on marginal sites, and increase sustainability of biomass crops with symbiotic microbes. He has authored and co-authored over 100 publications and currently serves as the ‘Omics Activity Lead Scientist in the Bioenergy Science Center, a U.S. Department of Energy funded Bioenergy Research Center.

Committee Discussion with Presenters

Public Comment Session

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