The aim of this research project was to further scientific knowledge of the risk of gene transfer from GM plants to gut bacteria.
<p>This project looked for evidence of gene transfer from GM rice and maize to the bacteria within the human digestive system.
<p>In one experiment the researchers used laboratory conditions to artificially increase the likelihood of gene transfer taking place.
<p>In a separate experiment the same GM material was introduced into a laboratory model that simulated conditions in the lower gastrointestinal tract of the human gut.
<p>Molecular understanding suggests that gene transfer is unlikely to occur from antibiotic resistant genes in GM plants to human gut bacteria. This research investigated the issue further.
<p>The researchers looked for any transfer of antibiotic resistance from GM plant material to the gut bacteria present in the model, thereby giving a more realistic representation of the conditions that DNA (including GM DNA) would encounter should it survive passage to the lower human gut.
<p>Main Findings: No natural transfer of antibiotic resistance was detected. Gene transfer was only detected when laboratory-based techniques were applied to artificially increase the likelihood of it taking place. It is not possible for the human or animal gut to reproduce these conditions.
<p>The researchers concluded that drug resistance is so well established in the gastrointestinal tract, that even if antibiotic resistance gene transfer took place from a GM plant it would not be significant.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.