The OECD Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds (Task Force) addresses aspects of the safety assessment of foods and feeds derived from genetically engineered crops. The work aims to ensure that the types of elements used in risk/safety assessment, as well as the methods to collect such information, are as similar as possible among countries.
The approach is to compare transgenic crops and derived products with similar conventional ones that are already known and considered safe in their use, based on recognised experience. Harmonised methods and practice, as well as share of data are facilitated through the Task Force activities.
The main output is the set of consensus documents on compositional considerations of new varieties of specific crops. These documents compile a common base of scientific information on the major components of the plants and their derived products: key nutrients; toxicants; anti-nutrients; and allergens where relevant. Other publications deal with general aspects to facilitate harmonisation in safety assessment. These documents constitute practical tools for regulators and risk assessors dealing with new transgenic varieties, with respect to human food and animal feed safety. To date, over 20 Consensus Documents have been published on major crops and mushrooms, the animal feedstuffs, as well as the molecular characterisation of plants derived from modern biotechnology developed in common with the WG-HROB.
The Task Force has increasingly involved the experience, scientific knowledge and interests of nonmember economies, which allows it to address a wider range of food and feed products of global interest.
Further details can be found in BioTrack Online www.oecd.org/biotrack.
(*) The BioTrack Online information system is a mechanism by which the Working Group on Harmonisation in Biotechnology and the Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds make publicly available the outputs of their work, especially their Consensus/Guidance Documents described in sections above. BioTrack Online offers also a public access to the “Product Database”. This database allows regulatory officials to share basic information on transgenic products derived from the use of modern biotechnology (mainly crop plants) and approved for commercial application in terms of food, feed or environmental safety.