Addressing concerns over the fate of DNA derived from genetically modified food in the human body: A review

Muhammad Amjad Nawaz, Robin Mesnage, Aristides M. Tsatsakis, Kirill S. Golokhvast, Seung Hwan Yang, Michael N. Antoniou, Gyuhwa Chung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Global commercialization of GM food and feed has stimulated much debate over the fate of GM food-derived DNA in the body of the consumer and as to whether it poses any health risks. We reviewed the fate of DNA derived from GM food in the human body. During mechanical/chemical processing, integrity of DNA is compromised. Food-DNA can survive harsh processing and digestive conditions with fragments up to a few hundred bp detectable in the gastrointestinal tract. Compelling evidence supported the presence of food (also GM food) derived DNA in the blood and tissues of human/animal. There is limited evidence of food-born DNA integrating into the genome of the consumer and of horizontal transfer of GM crop DNA into gut-bacteria. We find no evidence that transgenes in GM crop-derived foods have a greater propensity for uptake and integration than the host DNA of the plant-food. We found no evidence of plant-food DNA function/expression following transfer to either the gut-bacteria or somatic cells. Strong evidence suggested that plant-food-miRNAs can survive digestion, enter the body and affect gene expression patterns. We envisage that this multi-dimensional review will address questions regarding the fate of GM food-derived DNA and gene-regulatory-RNA in the human body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-430
Number of pages8
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Early online date21 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Experessability of DNA
  • Gastro intestinal tract
  • Genetically modified
  • GM food and feed
  • Integratability of DNA
  • Transgene integration


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