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JRC validates new method to identify genetically-modified organisms

The presence of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) amongst staple food sources is becoming increasingly controversial in Europe. The biggest problem stems from the difficulty in distinguishing genetically-modified produce from traditional strains. A new screening method has...
The presence of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) amongst staple food sources is becoming increasingly controversial in Europe. The biggest problem stems from the difficulty in distinguishing genetically-modified produce from traditional strains. A new screening method has just been validated by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre and this may hold the key to developing testing methods to improve consumer confidence in respect of GMOs.

The method was developed by Swiss and German scientists, and the JRC validation exercise was conducted through 29 laboratories in 13 different countries. Samples, containing small proportions of GMO strains, of flour from both soy beans and maize - the two most common GMOs - were distributed to the participating laboratories. Samples which contained just 2% of GMO strains (of both soy beans and maize)were correctly and unequivocally identified by all the laboratories, demonstrating the validity of the screening method.

It should be noted, however, that the method is only designed to identify GMO strains in the raw ingredients and not in manufactured food products. Furthermore, it can only identify the presence of GMOs but will not establish the quantities present.

This first success in validating a GMO test will be followed up by JRC within the Fifth Framework Programme. This should lead to the development of more advanced and sensitive methods for the identification and quantification of GMOs.

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Biotechnology
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