The cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops has steadily increased since their introduction to the market in the mid-1990s. Before these crops can be grown and sold they have to obtain regulatory approval in many countries, the process of which includes a pre-market safety assessment. The food safety of GM crops is assessed according to the internationally harmonized approach of comparative assessment, which entails an extensive analysis of crop characteristics including compositional, agronomic and phenotypic properties. In this assessment, the particular GM crop is compared to a conventional non-GM counterpart with a history of safe use. The outcome of the comparison is the basis for deciding what further tests are needed to complete the assessment and characterize any risks involved. Commonly addressed issues during the food safety assessment include unintended effects, potential toxicity, potential allergenicity and nutritional impact. Recent developments in analytical chemistry may provide supplementary tools for the comparative assessment of future crops with complex modifications.
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