Identifying the costs and benefits of traceability


Segregating GM and non-GM products, conducting analytical tests, and maintaining their traceability impose added costs on producers. The main objectives of these Co-Extra research projects are to track the value of goods as they travel along selected supply chains, find the most cost efficient organisational strategies for dealing with GM food and feed, and finally, provide stakeholders with an idea of how implementing traceability will financially affect their enterprises - for better or for worse.


The core of these research projects is a set of actual supply chains that is considered representative for a considerable portion of the entire food and feed industry. In cooperation with other Co-Extra projects, the most strategic supply chains are selected and carefully studied. Costs and values are assigned to the goods at each step in processing and handling, and points that are critical to product value are identified.

The next step is to bring GM goods and traceability into the equation. Technical measures to secure tracebility that were developed in other Co-Extra projects are assessed for their economic practiceability, and the most cost effective product flows and handling practices are suggested and communicated to stakeholders.

Also of importance are the potential benefits that stakeholders could enjoy after implementing segregation, traceability, and labelling. Not only could food companies enhance the value of their products by offering their customers GMO free goods, they may also have better chances at marketing their products in countries overseas where labelling requirements are also in place. Researchers are working on identifying potential benefits such as these.


According to the results of the analysed food supply chains, significant additional costs are expected by organising co-existence between genetically modified and non-GM products in the value chain from production of farm crops up to the production/processing levels of the single supply chains and by maintaining mandatory (or voluntary) thresholds and regulations. Depending on factors like crop requirements, farming, storage and elevating systems, processing strategies, monitoring managements etc, the total additional costs of co-existence and product segregation systems can raise up to 13% of the total product turnover at the gates of rapeseed oil mills or starch industry processing wheat and maize. However, as in most value chains the question of co-existence currently is a theoretical one in the EU, the implementation and permanent running of co-existence and segregation systems in the food industry can decrease the additional costs due to savings e.g. in the testing requirements of raw materials or routine procedures during the documentation process.

More information:

Costs and benefits of segregation and traceability between GM and non-GM supply chains of final food products

Public Deliverables of the Co-Extra project


Morten Gylling
The Danish Research Institute of Food Economics (FOI)
Matthias Stolze
Forschungsinstitut fuer Biologischen Landbau (FiBL), Switzerland
Nicolas Gryson
Hogeschool Gent (Hogent), Belgium
Tobias Hirzinger
University of Applied Sciences of Weihenstephan (FW), Germany
Romain Bourgier
Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (INRA), France
Norma Pensel
Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA), Argentina
Victor Pelaez
Paraná Institute of Technology (Tecpar), Brasil
Mariusz Maciejczak
Warsaw Agricultural University (SGGW/WAU), Poland
Jose Chema Gil
Centro de Investigacion en Economia Y Desarrollo Agroalimentarios (CREDA), Spain