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 propose most suitable analytical approaches that can serve as reference in the quantification of genetically modified food and feed ingredients and will impact harmonisation in official food control.
According to European legislation, the content of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in a food or feed product has to be expressed as a relative quantity linked to the DNA of the ingredient (biological species).
For instance: GM maize is quantified relative to the total maize content of a product.
The JRC, in the context of the European GMOval project, coordinated three inter-laboratory studies for the validation of qualitative methods suitable for screening for the presence of GMOs. The results are presented together with the acceptance parameters used during the in-house validation, the method transferability study and the inter-laboratory validation.
For years scientists have been working on systems to better classify organisms using genetic "barcodes", i.e. DNA sequences that are used as unique identifiers for each species and that are found at specific locations of their genomes. For plants, for example, the currently used DNA barcodes are found in the plastids, small organelles within the plant cells that carry out photosynthesis. The genome of the plastid is very small in comparison to the plant genome, which has made the identification of DNA barcodes easier.
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".
The JRC released a new GMO (genetically modified organism) certified reference material (CRM) to be used by GMO testing laboratories to analyse the GMO maize VCO-Ø1981-5 product in food and feeding stuff.
In their recent peer-reviewed paper entitled "Genetically modified animals: options and issues for traceability and enforcement", JRC scientists provide an overview of the 75 GM-animals already existing or in advanced state of development worldwide. About half of these are designed for the food market. The study also reviews the available methods for control and traceability in the food and feed chain.
JRC-IRMM developed and released the first certified reference material containing a defined DNA mass concentration that can be used to calibrate fluorescence-based assays for the quantification of nucleic acids in solution.