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.
On 23 November 2010, the JRC's Institute of Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) inaugurated a new reference materials production building. The new building will be the largest building on the JRC-IRMM site, housing a production hall, laboratories for elemental and protein analysis and a class-III bio-safety laboratory.
Better healthcare, food safety and environmental protection are just some of the ways in which accurate and reliable measurements enhance our quality of life. Complex measurements such as the amount of genetically modified maize or the levels of bacteria in a food sample do not have global standards (such as the kilogram) and rely therefore on reference materials - which are substances with a precisely-known property, developed and produced by specialised institutions.
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is one of the leading producers of reference materials in the world, particularly in the clinical, food and GMO application areas. It develops and produces over 670 reference materials which are distributed to analytical laboratories around the world and used to develop, calibrate, validate and control analytical methods, providing the laboratories with a benchmark to deliver reliable, comparable and traceable results.
The new production building brings together technologies and processing equipment to provide an innovative set-up which bridges the gap between the laboratory and industrial scale. The facilities will be used to develop and produce reference materials to support European legislation in emerging fields such as molecular biosciences and nanotechnology.
There are countless examples in which accurate measurements are crucial, such as hospital blood tests, measuring the size of nanoparticles or checking shipments of foodstuffs for the presence of genetically modified organisms.
Reference materials play a crucial role in the ‘behind-the-scenes’ global measurement infrastructure, which enables analytical laboratories over the world to carry out tests in a comparable and harmonised manner. They are used by laboratories to calibrate their instruments and to develop reliable testing methods.