EU Science Hub

A novel approach for the detection of genetically modified soybean crops

Soybean plantation
©Maksud -
Mar 23 2017

In close collaboration with JRC scientists, a network of German food safety authorities developed a novel method able to efficiently detect six different genetically modified soybean lines that were known, until now, to be difficult to monitor.

The number of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is constantly growing, increasing the labour and costs necessary to test for their presence in the food and feed supply chain.  For this reason, GMO-control laboratories develop and apply screening strategies that detect elements common to many GMOs.  However, some GMOs are known to be very different from the others, and are then often missed by these "general" screening approaches.  This was the case for 6  GM soybean lines (MON 87701, MON 87708, MON 87769, DP-305423, CV-127 and DAS-68416).

The group of scientists developed and validated a novel approach that combines, in a single experiment, six methods able to reveal the presence of each of these GMOs in a sample.  The event specific multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay is capable of detection these GM soybean events at a mass fraction of down to 0.03 % with an acceptable false-negative rate.
The JRC scientists, using their in-house bioinformatics infrastructure and GMO sequence data expertise, provided the analyses necessary to predict that the components of the six methods, when combined in the same reaction, would not interfere with each other or lead to undesirable false positive results in other GMO or non-GMO plants.  

The development and validation of a similar multiplex PCR assay is planned in the near future for difficult-to-monitor maize events.

Read more in: L. Grohmann et al. "Screening for six genetically modified soybean lines by an event-specific multiplex PCR method: Collaborative trial validation of a novel approach for GMO detection",  Journal für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit 12 (2017) 23–36, doi: 10.1007/s00003-016-1056-y