New research project towards improved verification of genetically modified organisms

Since June 1, 2009, the German Federal Bureau of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) has collaborated with its British counterpart, the "Food Standards Agency", to support the two-year research and development project known as "GMOseek".

Goal of the project is better verification possibilities for portions of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food and feed as well as in seed. A total of five research and analytical laboratories in Belgium, Germany and Slovenia, as well as the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the EU Commission, are participants.

In the EU, a range of genetically modified plants already have been approved for use as food or feed or in cultivation. In light of the observably-increasing number of applications for approval of genetically modified products, one may assume an increased need for faster and more effective procedures that permit more timely and economical analyses. It is already the case that laboratories responsible for analysis must prepare detection procedures for more than 30 maize, soybean, rapeseed and cotton products that are approved in the EU.

An additional challenge for surveillance institutions in EU Member States is posed by detection possibilities for GM products that are not approved in the EU as food, feed or seed. For example, genetically modified rice varieties that remain unapproved in the EU repeatedly have been found in products from the USA and China since 2006.

The "GMOseek" project is aimed at addressing the heightened need for research and development in this field. A significant step towards a solution will be seen particularly in the development of new procedures and strategies for the screening of genetically modified constituents. Such screening should allow the simultaneous analysis of several probes according to a number of varying parameters. The activities of "GMOseek" therefore have been focused towards the development and validation of new screening procedures that are derived from PCR techniques and DNA hybridisation (‘micro-array’) and that make use of newly-developed tools in the fields of bioinformatics and data processing.

Project partners are the Bavarian State Bureau for Health and Food Safety (LGL); the Walloon Centre for Agricultural Research (CRA-W), the Scientific Institute of Public Health (IPH) and the Own Equity of the Institute for Agricultural and Fishery Research (EV ILVO) in Belgium; the National Institute of Biology in Slovenia and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (JRC-ICHP). Research partners participated in a request for proposals in consonance with the European SAFEFOODERA consortium.

Source: BVL