We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
JRC scientists have developed a decision support tool to optimise the detection of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) via computer simulation. The JRC GMO-Matrix will make the analysis of GMOs in the food chain more efficient and cost-effective.
The new tool links the information from two JRC databases: the public GMOMETHODS database, the EU Database of Reference Methods for GMO Analysis, which supplies information on GMO detection assays validated according to international standards; and the Central Core DNA Sequences Information System (CCSIS), a database containing annotated GMO DNA-sequences downloaded from public DNA-sequences databases or submitted as part of the GMO authorisation procedures. The latter are in many cases regarded to be confidential. Using a simple interface, the JRC GMO-Matrix tool performs a computer simulation to predict the detection of each GMO in the CCSIS by each detection method available in the methods database.
With the growing number and complexity of GMO, the new tool helps to reduce the labour intensity and costs of testing for the presence or absence of GMOs in food and feed supply chains.
GMO-control laboratories currently perform an initial screening using a set of detection methods to identify the presence or absence of a range of elements commonly found in GMOs. Negative responses from such a panel of screening methods eliminate the possibility of GMO presence in a test sample, but only if the selected screening methods cover all the GMOs to be detected. In this frame, the JRC GMO-Matrix provides valuable support in selecting the validated screening methods for the optimal screening strategy.
In case of one or more positive signals, additional laboratory work is necessary to identify the actual GMO that produced these signals. The JRC GMO-Matrix also makes this step more efficient by displaying the list of GMO(s) consistent with the patterns of the results obtained from the screening. In case of an authorised GMO in the sample, the laboratory can then directly use a specific test method for identification (verification of the identity) and quantification (for labelling purposes) of the detected GMO.
The JRC GMO-Matrix has been developed and implemented at the European Union Reference Laboratory for GM Food and Feed (EU-RL GMFF), one of the seven EU Reference Laboratories hosted at the JRC.
The EU-RL GMFF validates detection methods for GM Food and Feed as part of the EU authorisation procedure for GMOs and supports the National Reference Laboratories for GMOs in the 28 Member States, inter alia by providing them with efficient tools for GMO analysis. The EU-RL GMFF is managing ENGL, the European Network of GMO Laboratories.