Food Allergy and Safety Assessment Workshop

  • Start Date/Time :
  • End Date/Time :
  • Location : Nairobi, Kenya
  • Venue : Kenyatta International Convention Center

Faculty of speakers, 11-12 August 2014 Food Allergy and Safety Assessment Workshop, Nairobi, Kenya

This two-day pre-conference workshop was conducted in conjunction with the 3rd Annual National Biosafety Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.


Sponsored by:

  • HESI Protein Allergenicity Technical Committee (PATC)
  • Kenya National Biosafety Authority

Workshop Co-Chairs:

  • Gregory S. Ladics, PhD, DABT, Fellow ATS (DuPont Pioneer, USA; HESI PATC Co-Chair)
  • Scott McClain, PhD (Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, USA; HESI PATC Co-Chair)
  • Prof. Ronald van Ree (Academic Medical Center / University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; HESI PATC Co-Chair)

Background and objectives:

Food Allergy. Allergic diseases, including food allergy, have been on the rise for decades.  This epidemic seems to be leveling off in some western societies. However, in rapidly developing economies in Asia, South America, and Africa, urbanization and industrialization, accompanied by adoption of a more westernized lifestyle and diet, has resulted in an increasing incidence of allergic diseases. Epidemiological studies on allergic asthma have been carried out all over the world, including in some countries in Africa.  While the epidemiology of food allergy on the African continent is not yet studied in a coordinated fashion, ongoing studies focus on comparisons between urban and rural areas with higher and lower prevalence of (food) allergy, respectively, to identify environmental, microbial, lifestyle and dietary factors that are protective or represent risk factors. For a sound allergenicity assessment, basic knowledge on food allergy, its proper diagnosis, and its epidemiology are of great importance.

The aim of the first day of the workshop was to provide a state-of-the art overview of what food allergy is, how it is diagnosed, and why it is expected to be a growing problem in Africa in the decade(s) to come. Overviews of allergy research in Eastern, Western, and South Africa were provided.

Agricultural Biotechnology Safety Assessment. Evaluating safety is a cornerstone of registering genetically modified (GM) crops. A suite of global guidance directing the appropriate studies supports an assessment of potential effects on human and animal health from a food and feed use perspective. A thorough characterization of the inserted DNA and expressed novel proteins are the starting points that are then used to identify a protein’s unique structure, function, and origin.  Identifying risk for allergenicity, toxicity, or the presence of unintended adverse effects are key objectives. A global perspective on identifying allergy risk is outlined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Alinorm 03/34A) in the form of a weight-of-evidence approach, recognizing that no single endpoint is sufficiently predictive of allergenic potential. Toxicity assessments, including animal studies, support an evaluation of both the trait protein(s) and the crop in which it is included, although the predictive value of such toxicology data, particularly longer-term feeding studies, has not been clearly identified. The GM crop (grain) is also evaluated utilizing a comprehensive compositional analysis that establishes the level of similarity between the GM crop and appropriate comparators to establish the GM variety to be “as safe as” non-GM varieties.

The second day of the workshop focused on effective risk assessment processes and study designs that provide the basis for current GM registrations. In addition, speakers discussed the framework for commercializing a GM crop and global regulatory perspectives on biotechnology-based foods. The protocols and advances in study methods for characterizing DNA, novel proteins, and GM crop products were addressed.

Workshop materials:


FOOD ALLERGY  (Monday, 11 August 2014)


ILSI Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI)
HESI Protein Allergenicity Technical Committee (PATC)
Dr. Gregory Ladics (DuPont Pioneer, USA)

Session 1.  Food Allergy: Mechanisms, Diagnosis and Epidemiology

What is food allergy?
Prof. Lars K. Poulsen (Copenhagen University Hospital at Gentofte, Denmark) 

How is food allergy diagnosed?
Dr. Montserrat Fernández Rivas (Allergy Department, Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Spain)

Allergy and different socio-economic backgrounds
Prof. Maria Yazdanbakhsh (Department of Parasitology, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands) 

Session 2.  Food and Respiratory Allergy in Eastern Africa

Asthma and allergy-related disease in Uganda [presentation not available]
Prof. Alison Elliott
Dr. Harriet Mpairwe

(Medical Research Council / Uganda Virus Research Institute, Uganda)

Respiratory manifestation of food allergy – Kenyan perspective
Dr. Evans Amukoye (Centre for Respiratory Diseases Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya)

Food and respiratory allergy in Tanzania
Dr. Nohrasco Mang'ondi (Bugando Medical Centre/CUHAS, Tanzania)

Session 3.  Food and Respiratory Allergy in Western Africa

Food and respiratory allergy in Ghana
Ms. Abena Amoah (Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Ghana)

Risk factors for self-reported adverse reaction to food in Lambaréné, Gabon
Dr. Ayola Akim Adegnika (CERMEL, Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, Gabon)

Session 4.  Food and Respiratory Allergy in Southern Africa

Food and respiratory allergy in Zimbabwe
Prof. Elopy Sibanda (Asthma, Allergy & Immune Dysfunction Clinic, Zimbabwe)

Food allergy in South Africa
Prof. Michael Levin (University of Cape Town School of Child & Adolescent Health, Red Cross Hospital, South Africa)


Dr. Scott McClain (Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, USA)

Agricultural biotechnology in Africa
Dr. Jacoba Adriana (‘Kobie’) de Ronde (Syngenta, South Africa)

Safety assessment process to register GM products
Dr. Laura Privalle (Bayer CropScience, USA)

Crop composition as part of the GM crop safety assessment
Dr. Philip Brune (Syngenta Crop Protection LLC, USA)

Molecular and protein characterization of GMO products
Dr. Scott McClain (Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, USA)

The mammalian safety assessment of GM crops; protein allergy assessment
Dr. Gregory Ladics (DuPont Pioneer, USA)

Regulatory and GM food safety assessment perspectives: Kenya
Prof. Theophilus Mutui (National Biosafety Authority, Kenya)

Regulatory and safety assessment perspectives: South Africa
Dr. Liezel Michelle Gouws (Biosafety South Africa, South Africa)

Contact Us

Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI)
Phone: +1-202-659-8404
Fax: +1-202-659-3859

740 15th Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005

Stay Informed

Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter.