Detection and traceability of genetically modified organisms in the food production chain

Author: Miraglia, M.; Berdal, K.G.; Brera, C.; Corbisier, P.; Holst-Jensen, A.; Kok, E.J.; Marvin, H.J.P.; Schimmel, H.; Rentsch, J.; van Rie, J.P.P.F.; Zagon, J.

Description: Both labelling and traceability of genetically modified organisms are current issues that are considered in trade and regulation. Currently, labelling of genetically modified foods containing detectable transgenic material is required by EU legislation. A proposed package of legislation would extend this labelling to foods without any traces of transgenics. These new legislations would also impose labelling and a traceability system based on documentation throughout the food and feed manufacture system. The regulatory issues of risk analysis and labelling are currently harmonised by Codex Alimentarius. The implementation and maintenance of the regulations necessitates sampling protocols and analytical methodologies that allow for accurate determination of the content of genetically modified organisms within a food and feed sample. Current methodologies for the analysis of genetically modified organisms are focused on either one of two targets, the transgenic DNA inserted- or the novel protein(s) expressed- in a genetically modified product. For most DNA-based detection methods, the polymerase chain reaction is employed. Items that need consideration in the use of DNA-based detection methods include the specificity, sensitivity, matrix effects, internal reference DNA, availability of external reference materials, hemizygosity versus homozygosity, extrachromosomal DNA, and international harmonisation. For most protein-based methods, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays with antibodies binding the novel protein are employed. Consideration should be given to the selection of the antigen bound by the antibody, accuracy, validation, and matrix effects. Currently, validation of detection methods for analysis of genetically modified organisms is taking place. In addition, new methodologies are developed, including the use of microarrays, mass spectrometry, and surface plasmon resonance. Challenges for GMO detection include the detection of transgenic material in materials with varying chromosome numbers. The existing and proposed regulatory EU requirements for traceability of genetically modified products fit within a broader tendency towards traceability of foods in general and, commercially, towards products that can be distinguished from each other. Traceability systems document the history of a product and may serve the purpose of both marketing and health protection. In this framework, segregation and identity preservation systems allow for the separation of genetically modified and non-modified products from “farm to fork”. Implementation of these systems comes with specific technical requirements for each particular step of the food processing chain. In addition, the feasibility of traceability systems depends on a number of factors, including unique identifiers for each genetically modified product, detection methods, permissible levels of contamination, and financial costs. In conclusion, progress has been achieved in the field of sampling, detection, and traceability of genetically modified products, while some issues remain to be solved. For success, much will depend on the threshold level for adventitious contamination set by legislation.

Subject headings: Animals; Consumer Product Safety/legislation & jurisprudence/standards; Food Analysis/legislation & jurisprudence/methods/standards; Food Supply/legislation & jurisprudence; Food, Genetically Modified/adverse effects/standards; Genetic Engineering; Humans; International Cooperation; Organisms, Genetically Modified; Plants, Genetically Modified/adverse effects/genetics; Risk Assessment/methods

Publication year: 2004

Journal or book title: Food and Chemical Toxicology : an International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association

Volume: 42

Issue: 7

Pages: 1157-1180

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 150