EU Science Hub

JRC scientists co-author book on genetically modified organisms in food

Jan 26 2016

JRC scientists contributed with a chapter on "The European Union Reference methods database and decision supporting tool for the analysis of genetically modified organisms: GMOMETHODS and JRC GMO-Matrix".

Elsevier's publication on "Genetically Modified Organisms in Food. Production, Safety, Regulation and Public Health" collects scientific contributions of about 100 researchers from international organisations and universities on the development, testing and safety of plant and animal GMO food, their social and economic context, and governmental regulation and litigation. In this latter section, JRC scientists in cooperation with the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, provide information on EU policies and EU legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMO) and give detailed information on a series of technical approaches they have developed for the detection and quantification of GMOs at very low levels as required by EU Regulations. These approaches include the GMO-METHODS database and the matrix-based application GMO-Matrix, both accessible on the web.

In the book chapter, the JRC scientists also present an innovative approach for GMO testing, the ready-to-use pre-spotted plates that allow a multi-target analysis of GMOs in a single PCR experiment. This methodology drastically decreases the workload, the risk of handling errors, and the change of not detecting unexpected GMOs.

These JRC tools are globally available on the web and can be considered as an important contribution for worldwide standardization and harmonization in GMO analysis.


The GMO-METHODS database provides reliable and harmonized information on methods for detecting GMOs. These methods are DNA-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays that have been validated according to the principles and requirements of international standards and can therefore assure consistent and reproducible results in the analysis. Provision of reliable, sensitive and specific methods is a task of the European Union Reference Laboratory for GMO Food and Feed (EURL GMFF) according to Regulation (EC) No 882/2004, and is fundamental for the harmonized application of GMO legislation in EU.

The GMO-Matrix is a decision support tool for efficiently designing and evaluating GMO screening strategies. The tool offers optimal sets of methods from the GMOMETHODS database to target sequences shared by many different GM events and allows reducing the experimental tests in the analysis. Indeed, those screening approaches - exclusively based on the sequential detection and identification of different targets normally used in the developments of GMOs - are usually labour intensive and impractical because of the large number of known GMOs currently entering the global market.