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Agriculture / Organisms » Insects/Microorganisms

Title: Animal Feed Vitamin Supplement Contaminated by Illegal GE Bacteria
Publication date: August 03, 2017
Posting date: August 03, 2017

THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE

Dear Friends and Colleagues

Animal Feed Vitamin Supplement Contaminated by Illegal GE Bacteria

Riboflavin is commonly used as a food additive for humans and animals. Until quite recently, all riboflavin (vitamin B2) supplements were chemically synthesised. However, riboflavin is now frequently produced by commercial fermentation using overproducing strains of genetically engineered (GE) bacteria.

According to European Union (EU) biosafety regulations, no GMO bacterial strain nor any DNA, is allowed to be present in commercial supplements.  In 2014, however, a German enforcement laboratory alerted EU officials about a riboflavin supplement intended for animal feed being contaminated by viable strains of GE Bacillus subtilis.

Through culturing and DNA sequencing, EU biosafety agenciesfound the contaminating bacterium to be a production strain containing genomic DNA conferring resistance to the antibiotic chloramphenicol. In addition, the strain contained DNA extrachromosomal plasmids with other antibiotic resistance genes conferring resistance to ampicillin, kanamycin, bleomycin, tetracycline, and erythromycin. These antibiotic resistance genes constituted key differences between the strains the manufacturer in China claimed to be using and what was detected in Germany. Whether the altered strains had been used intentionally or were inadvertent contaminants is still not clear. This incident of GMO escape highlights the need for a database of detection methodologies for all GMOs used, both in contained use and at the field trial stage.

The above findings, published in the journal Food Chemistry, were made by regulators from Germany and Italy who were sampling Chinese imports. A similar finding was made in France in 2015.

With best wishes,

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
Malaysia
Email: twn@twnetwork.org
Websites: http://www.twn.my/and http://www.biosafety-info.net/
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https://www.independentsciencenews.org/news/illegal-ge-bacteria-detected-in-animal-supplement/

Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in An Animal Feed Supplement

June 26, 2017
by Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD

Genetically engineered (GE) bacteria have been found in riboflavin vitamin supplements intended for animal feed use according to newly published EU tests.

Contamination of food grade or animal feed supplements with GE bacteria is illegal in the European Union. In 2014, however, a German enforcement laboratory alerted EU officials to illegal GE bacterial contamination of a riboflavin supplement intended for animal feed. Further tests showed that the illegal contaminating strain was not among those the manufacturer claimed to be using.

The findings, just published in the journal Food Chemistry, were made by regulators from Germany and Italy who were sampling Chinese imports (Paracchini et al., 2017).

ANIMAL FEED SUPPLEMENTATION

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is an essential vitamin of vertebrate organisms. It is commonly used as a food additive for humans and animals. Until quite recently, all riboflavin supplements were chemically synthesised. However, riboflavin is now frequently produced by commercial fermentation using overproducing strains of GE bacteria.

According to EU biosafety regulations, no GMO bacterial strain, nor any DNA, is allowed to be present in commercial supplements. However, the contaminated sample of riboflavin contained viable strains of the genetically modified organism Bacillus subtilis. The researchers cultured and tested the contaminating bacterium and subsequent DNA sequencing showed it to be a production strain.

Further testing showed it to contain genomic DNA conferring resistance to the antibiotic chloramphenicol. In addition, the strain contained DNA extrachromosomal plasmids with other antibiotic resistance genes. These conferred resistance to the antibiotics, ampicillin, kanamycin, bleomycin, tetracycline, and erythromycin.

Correspondence between German diplomats, Chinese authorities, and the company, subsequently established that these antibiotic resistance genes constituted key differences between the strains the company claimed to be using and what was detected in Germany. Only the erythromycin and chloramphenicol resistance genes were acknowledged by the producer. Whether the altered strains had been used intentionally or were inadvertent contaminants is still not clear.

In 2015 a French testing laboratory found one riboflavin sample also contaminated with what is likely to be an identical bacterial strain, again from China (Barbau-Piednoir et al., 2015).

According to Janet Cotter of the consultancy Logos Environmental, European Food Safety Authority regulationsstate that antibiotic resistance genes “should be restricted to field trial purposes and should not be present in GM plants to be placed on the market” to prevent them entering the food chain as these antibiotic resistance genes presumably have. “This incident is the latest in a series of GMO escapes. It highlights the need for a database of detection methodologies for all GMOs used, both in contained use and at the field trial stage, so any escapees can at least be detected without facing the serious analytical challenges identification of this GMO contaminant posed.”

The publication documenting the tests also highlighted various altered properties of the detected Bacillus subtilis strain, including reduced fidelity of its protein translation system which might lead it to produce novel proteins.

References

Barbau-piednoir, E. Sigrid C. J. De Keersmaecker, Maud Delvoye, Céline Gau, Patrick Philipp and Nancy H. Roosens (2015) Use of next generation sequencing data to develop a qPCR method for specific detection of EU-unauthorized genetically modified Bacillus subtilis overproducing riboflavin. BMC Biotechnology 2015 15:103 DOI: 10.1186/s12896-015-0216-y

Paracchini, V., Petrillo, M., Reiting, R., Angers-Loustau, A., Wahler, D., Stolz, A., … & Pecoraro, S. (2017). Molecular characterization of an unauthorized genetically modified Bacillus subtilis production strain identified in a vitamin B 2 feed additive. Food Chemistry, 230, 681-689.


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