The 90-day animal study is the core study for the safety assessment of genetically modified foods in the SAFOTEST project. The model compound tested in the 90-day study was a rice variety expressing the kidney bean Phaseolus vulgaris lectin agglutinin E-form (PHA-E lectin). Female Wistar rats were given a nutritionally balanced purified diet with 60% parental rice, 60% PHA-E rice or 60% PHA-E rice spiked with 0.1% recombinant PHA-E lectin for 90 days. This corresponded to a mean daily PHA-E lectin intake of approximately 0, 30 and 100 mg/kg body weight for each group, respectively. The spiking was used to increase the specificity and to demonstrate the sensitivity of the study. A range of biological, biochemical, microbiological and pathological parameters were examined and significant differences in weight of small intestine, stomach and pancreas and plasma biochemistry were seen between groups. Included in this paper are also data from the molecular characterisation and chemical analysis of the PHA-E rice, from the construction and production of the PHA-E lectin, and from the preceding 28-day in vivo study where the toxicity of the pure PHA-E lectin was determined. In conclusion, the combined use of information from the compositional analysis, the 28-day study and the characterisation of the PHA-E rice and the PHA-E lectin has improved the design of the 90-day study. The spiking procedure has facilitated the interpretation of the results of the study and transferred it into a valuable tool for the future safety testing of genetically modified foods.
Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2007, Vol 45, Issue 3, p. 364-377