On April 24-25, 2018, in Berlin, Germany, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) held a colloquium focused on the use of omics in risk assessment of food and feed products (FPF reported). The term ‘omics’ covers several technologies that allow simultaneous characterization of large numbers of different biological molecules, including, for example, DNA (genomics), RNA (transcriptomics), proteins (proteomics), and metabolites (metabolomics).
Over 100 workshop participants included representatives of academia, industry, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They focused on discussing several areas where EFSA envisions applying omics in the future, namely identification and characterization of microbial strains, risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) plants, as well as both human health and environmental risk assessment. It was concluded that, while omics approaches are undoubtedly helpful for advancing basic research in these areas, their application for risk assessment is still challenging. Important obstacles are, e.g., lack of standardization and harmonization, insufficient reporting, and difficulties with interpreting omics results, linking them to phenotypic outcomes, and transferring omics data into quantitative measures useful for risk assessment. Several international initiatives are underway to address these challenges.
Later this year, EFSA will publish a report summarizing the discussions held and recommendations reached at the colloquium.