Genetically modified organisms (GMO)
The number of genetically modified crops is steadily increasing worldwide. Opinion as to their safety is still divided. In the EU, products derived from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are strictly controlled by EU legislation. GMO derived food and feed can be commercialised within the EU only when it successfully passed through an authorisation procedure and with appropriate labelling provisions.
To ensure that authorised GMOs can be traced, and, that no unauthorised GMOs enter the European market, it is critical to have an effective and reliable means of detecting them in, for example, shipments of imported food, feed, seeds and end products.
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has been working for more than ten years on the development of appropriate tools for this task including certified reference materials. The Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP), through its European Union Reference Laboratory for Genetically Modified Food and Feed (EURL-GMFF), validates analytical methods for the detection and quantification of GMOs in food and feed. The detection of GMOs requires standardised methods that are specifically tailored for each GMO and are applied in a standardised way within all EU control laboratories.
Since becoming operational in 2004, the Reference Laboratory has validated some 70 methods for GMO detection, including maize, soybean, rapeseed, potato, cotton and sugar beet. Approximately 10 other methods are in the process of assessment. Activities are carried out in close collaboration with the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL).