The FSA is the competent authority for the Genetically Modified (GM) Food and Feed Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 which lays down labelling requirements for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and products containing GM material. This stipulates that any food or feed product containing a GM ingredient must declare this on the label. Currently, EU laboratories face difficult challenges in the detection of GMOs in food and feed. This is partly due to the ever increasing number and complexity of authorised GM events, but also to the increasing problem of unauthorised GMOs, for which EU validated methods of detection do not exist.
To determine whether the labelling regulations are working in practice it is necessary for robust GMO detection methods for foods to be available. The GMOseek project is primarily aimed at providing improved screening methods and strategies for the analysis and detection of GMOs including unauthorised events.
The GMOseek project is co-funded by the German organisation BVL. The research will be undertaken by a consortium of six European laboratories, with the National Institute of Biology, Slovenia, as the consortium leader.
Research ApproachThe central aim of the project is to develop a new bioinformatics tool (named GMOseek) to help enforcement laboratories to design a more efficient screening strategy for the detection of authorised and also unauthorised GMOs in parallel. The bioinformatics system will consist of (1) a software tool that generates a matrix information database (2) a mathematical algorithm that selects from the matrix an optimal set of genetic elements that need to be targeted for the detection of GMOs.
The second objective of this project is to develop new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening methods, which target the new genetic elements being incorporated into next-generation GMOs. DNA-based PCR amplification techniques will be developed first as singleplex PCRs for single event detection. Subsequently, multiplex methods will be devised for the simultaneous detection of several screening targets, in order to significantly decrease the overall number of PCR reactions needed. In addition, NASBA (Nucleic Acid Sequence Based Amplification) Implemented Microarray Analysis (NAIMA), which is an alternative DNA-based amplification technology to PCR, will be developed further in combination with microarray detection to aid the multiplex screening of GMOs.
<P>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.