Detecting un-authorized genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and derived materials

Holst-Jensen, Arne
Bertheau, Yves
de Loose, Marc
Grohmann, Lutz
Hamels, Sandrine
Hougs, Lotte
Morisset, Dany
Pecoraro, Sven
den Bulcke, Marc Van
Wulff, Doerte
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Genetically modified plants, in the following referred to as genetically modified organisms or GMOs, have been commercially grown for almost two decades. In 2010 approximately 10% of the total global crop acreage was planted with GMOs (James, 2011). More than 30 countries have been growing commercial GMOs, and many more have performed field trials. Although the majority of commercial GMOs both in terms of acreage and specific events belong to the four species: soybean, maize, cotton and rapeseed, there are another 20. + species where GMOs are commercialized or in the pipeline for commercialization. The number of GMOs cultivated in field trials or for commercial production has constantly increased during this time period. So have the number of species, the number of countries involved, the diversity of novel (added) genetic elements and the global trade. All of these factors contribute to the increasing complexity of detecting and correctly identifying GMO derived material. Many jurisdictions, including the European Union (EU), legally distinguish between authorized (and therefore legal) and un-authorized (and therefore illegal) GMOs. Information about the developments, field trials, authorizations, cultivation, trade and observations made in the official GMO control laboratories in different countries around the world is often limited, despite several attempts such as the OECD BioTrack for voluntary dissemination of data. This lack of information inevitably makes it challenging to detect and identify GMOs, especially the un-authorized GMOs. The present paper reviews the state of the art technologies and approaches in light of coverage, practicability, sensitivity and limitations. Emphasis is put on exemplifying practical detection of un-authorized GMOs. Although this paper has a European (EU) bias when examples are given, the contents have global relevance ​
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