Natural variation in crop composition and the impact of transgenesis

Journal name:
Nature Biotechnology
Volume:
28,
Pages:
402–404
Year published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/nbt0510-402

To the Editor:

Compositional equivalence of crops improved through biotech-derived transgenic, or genetically modified (GM), traits and their conventional (non-GM) comparators is an important criterion in breeding as well as a key aspect of risk assessments of commercial candidates. We present here an analysis evaluated from compositional data on GM corn and GM soybean varieties grown across a range of geographies and growing seasons with the aim of not only assessing the relative impact of transgene insertion on compositional variation in comparison with the effect of environmental factors but also reviewing the implications of these results on the safety assessment process. Specifically, our analysis includes evaluation of seven GM crop varieties from a total of nine countries and eleven growing seasons. On the basis of our data, we conclude that compositional differences between GM varieties and their conventional comparators were encompassed within the natural variability of the conventional crop and that the composition of GM and conventional crops cannot be disaggregated.

At a glance

Figures

  1. Summary of amino acid levels in conventional and GM corn from a total of eight growing seasons.
    Figure 1: Summary of amino acid levels in conventional and GM corn from a total of eight growing seasons.

    Each vertical bar represents the range of values for the corresponding amino acids as measured in studies listed in Supplementary Table 1. See Supplementary Table 20 for further details and Supplementary Figures 1–11 for summarized data on other nutrient and antinutrient components in corn and soybean.

  2. Hierarchical cluster analysis and principal component analysis of compositional data generated on the harvested seed of insect-protected MON 87701 and glyphosate-tolerant MON 89788 soybean grown in the northern and southern regions of Brazil during the 2007-2008 season.
    Figure 2: Hierarchical cluster analysis and principal component analysis of compositional data generated on the harvested seed of insect-protected MON 87701 and glyphosate-tolerant MON 89788 soybean grown in the northern and southern regions of Brazil during the 2007–2008 season.

    The sample codes are as follows. The first three digits indicate the sample: 77T, MON 87701; R2T, MON 89788; and 77C, conventional control for both MON 87701 and MON 89788. The remaining digits indicate the sites: Cachoeira Dourada; Minas Gerais (BrNCD); Sorriso; Mato Grosso (BrNSR); Nao-Me-Toque; Rio Grande do Sul (BrSNT); Rolandia; and Parana (BrSRO). BrN indicates the northern region, BrS represents the southern region.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Product Safety Center, Monsanto Company, 800 North Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

    • George G Harrigan,
    • Denise Lundry,
    • Suzanne Drury,
    • Kristina Berman,
    • Susan G Riordan,
    • Margaret A Nemeth,
    • William P Ridley &
    • Kevin C Glenn

Competing financial interests

The authors are employees of Monsanto. Monsanto develops and sells GM crops, including those discussed in the manuscript.

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Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. Supplementary Text and Figures (716K)

    Supplementary Tables 1–21, Supplementary Figs. 1–24, Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Notes and Supplementary References

Additional data