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Barriers to application of genetically modified lactic acid bacteria


To increase the acceptability of food products containing genetically modified microorganisms it is necessary to provide in an early stage to the consumers that the product is safe and that the product provide a clear benefit to the consumer. To comply with the first requirement a systematic approach to analyze the probability that genetically modified lactic acid bacteria will transform other inhabitants of the gastro-intestinal (G/I) tract or that these lactic acid bacteria will pick up genetic information of these inhabitants has been proposed and worked out to some degree. From this analysis it is clear that reliable data are still missing to carry out complete risk assessment. However, on the basis of present knowledge, lactic acid bacteria containing conjugative plasmids should be avoided. Various studies show that consumers in developed countries will accept these products when they offer to them health or taste benefits or a better keepability. For the developing countries the biggest challenge for scientists is most likely to make indigenous fermented food products with strongly improved microbiological stability due to broad spectra bacteriocins produced by lactic acid bacteria. Moreover, these lactic acid bacteria may contribute to health.

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Verrips, C.T., van den Berg, D.J.C. Barriers to application of genetically modified lactic acid bacteria. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 70, 299–315 (1996).

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Key words

  • lactic acid bacteria
  • rDNA technology
  • risk assessment and consumer acceptance