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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



The risks associated with maternal exposure to compounds with carcinogenic and immunotoxic properties through the mother's diet are not yet completely clear. NewGeneris aims to test the hypothesis that consumption of such compounds can result in in utero exposure, leading to increased risk of cancer and immune disorders in childhood.

The project partners will isolate and examine specific biomarkers indicating exposure to carcinogens and will study the implications to public health, following an extensive examination of dietary habits and DNA studies, as well as gene expression profile development. The biomarkers that are being developed will be able to demonstrate potential links between diets containing specific chemicals with pathogenic properties and precarcinogenic and immunotoxic effects. With this innovative approach to foetal safety, NewGeneris is able to add a new dimension to issues of health hazards associated with specific dietary components. The results could have important implications for the formulation of European policy with regard to the improvement of food quality.


The NewGeneris project will utilise existing motherchild birth cohorts throughout Europe to conduct a series of investigative studies (including questionnairebased surveys) in order to assess maternal dietary exposure to carcinogens and immunotoxins. Further epidemiological surveys aim to examine the links between dietary exposure childhood cancer risk factors and immune disorders. Consortium members undertake this at a time when cancer incidence in European children is increasing, in particular the incidence of leukaemia. Atopic diseases, such as asthma and atopic eczema in children, are also on the rise.

There is no concrete evidence on what causes these diseases in childhood, nor can the scientific community explain why their incidence has indeed increased. There are, however, indications linking a number of chemicals also present in the food chain to these pathologies. The birth-cohort-approach that is used in NewGeneris is expected to provide answers on the roles of such chemicals at the onset of disease. The goal is to enrol over 200 000 pregnant women and their babies in Denmark and Sweden, with smaller study groups in the UK, Germany, Spain and Greece. The total number is expected to reach 300 000 newborns. The availability of such a large sample will allow analysis for biomarkers of exposure to carcinogens, and also of the early onset of cancer and immune disorders.


The objectives set out by NewGeneris will be realised through the effective collaboration of academic and public research centres throughout Europe in combination with a number of SMEs with expertise in the field of biomarker analysis. The varied sets of skills employed within the consortium will find application in the different steps of data collection and analysis, which include recruitment of study population, toxicological studies, questionnaire surveys, molecular studies, epidemiological analysis and biosafety monitoring. Collaboration among consortium partners will bridge specific gaps in our knowledge on childhood diseases. As a result of the work of the NewGeneris project, fresh tools will be made available to European policymakers for improving food quality and eliminating risk. This will, in turn, help increase the European food sector's competitiveness on a global scale.

List of Partners

  • Maastricht University (The Netherlands)
  • National Hellenic Research Foundation (Greece)
  • Municipal Institute of Medical Research (Spain)
  • University of Bradford (UK)
  • University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • University of Leicester (UK)
  • Karolinska Institute (Sweden)
  • Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
  • German Cancer Institute (Germany)
  • University of Oslo (Norway)
  • National Institute for Cancer Research (Italy)
  • University of Leeds (UK)
  • Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium)
  • Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Norway)
  • Statens Serum Institut (Denmark)
  • University of Crete (Greece)
  • University of Kuopio (Finland)
  • Stockholm University (Sweden)
  • National Institute of Environmental Health, József Fodor National Centre for Public Health (Hungary)
  • Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health (Croatia)
  • Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain)
  • Medical University (Slovakia)
  • BioDetection Systems (The Netherlands)
  • Imstar (France)
  • GeneData (Switzerland)
Full title:
Development and application of biomarkers of dietary exposure to genotoxic and immunotoxic chemicals and of biomarkers of early effects, using mother-child birth cohorts and biobanks
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Jos Kleinjans, Maastricht University, The Netherlands,
EC Scientific Officer:
Domenico De Martinis,
EU contribution:
€ 13.6M
Integrated Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top