In today’s day and age, feeding an ever-growing population is a challenge.
This challenge led to the development of different kinds of GMO crops which have several favourable traits such as higher yield and resistance to pathogens.
However, since people are increasingly cautious about GMO crops, it’s essential to ensure that these crops are safe for consumption. It’s also important to identify and analyse the traits that make these crops pest-free, virus-resistant, and suitable for different climatic conditions.
Before such GMO products can hit the market, they need to be cleared by government agencies to certify their safety. Our GMO testing laboratory can help business owners in the Agribusiness space run the kind of GMO tests they need to navigate the regulatory environment successfully.
What Is a Genetically Modified Organism?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism in which the genes or other genetic material have been modified by using in vitro (recombinant DNA) techniques.
A plant, such as corn or soybean, is considered genetically modified when genetic material from outside of that organism is inserted into its DNA sequence. Plants grown from seed harvested from genetically modified plants will also contain the genetic modification.
The most common genetic modifications in crops confer an herbicide or an insect resistance to the plant such as the Bacillus thurigenesis gene (Bt). This resistance is achieved through production of a novel protein encoded by the inserted DNA sequence.
In plants that are genetically modified for commercial agricultural purposes, the recombinant sections of DNA that are artificially inserted into the natural plant genome have some common genetic elements.
Each inserted DNA sequence consists of at least a promoter, a protein-coding site (the structural gene) and a terminator. A number of them have been prepared artificially which include Sugar beet, Chicory, Corn, Cotton, Flax, Melon, Papaya, Mustard, Potato, Rapeseed, Rice, Soybean, Squash, Tomato, Barley. Others like wheat are under development.
Genetically modified crops are being introduced on a large-scale. In various countries, the regulations demand that the presence and the amount of genetically modified organism be known. This also helps in the delivery of the product according to customer’s specifications.
Different GMO Testing Methods – A Quick Overview
If you want to test a particular GMO for desirable traits, you can do so using either of the following methods:
- Strip Test
This test is quite rapid and is useful in measuring the amount of protein. As it can be performed on-site, it’s often used for initial screening for seeds and grains. However, despite the benefits, it has a low sensitivity (0.1% – 1% detection rate) and isn’t ideal for processed food products too.
- ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) Test
It’s often performed in GMO testing labs and uses an antibody-based method to measure GMO protein in seeds, grain, or leaves. Most experts consider it appropriate for qualitative and quantitative testing as it has high sensitivity (0.01% – 0.1%).
- PCR Test
Preferred by most GMO labs, it’s an accredited GMO testing method that is capable of detecting all GMOs and allows definite quantification. GMO PCR method and materials are industry-standard which are used worldwide in surveillance and different testing labs.
The technique is virtually fool-proof, much more sensitive than ELISA based technique has a rapid turnaround time and can be quantitative. One can therefore not only come to know whether the GMO food testing sample is genetically modified or not but also come to know the percentage of GMOs present in the sample.
Detecting genetically modified foods by PCR lab report is done in three forms:
Qualitative GMO Analysis – Reports presence or absence of GMO, but will not quantify how much GMO is present (presently Available).
Single-Threshold GMO Analysis – Reports GMO content above or below a single threshold, for example, “greater than 1%” or “less than 1%”. Please specify one of the following thresholds: 0.1%, 0.5%, 1%, 2%, 3% or 5%GMO.
Semi-Quantitative Analysis (multiple threshold) reports GMO content above, below, or between two or more thresholds, for example, “greater than 1%”, “less than 1% and greater than 0.1%”, or “negative at â€¦0.1%”. Standard multiple thresholds include 0.1% and 1% GMO, 2% and 5% GMO. Grains may be tested at the thresholds 0.01% and 0.1% GMO.
Why Is GMO Testing Required?
Testing for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is required if you are exporting food or feed products to any of the following countries:
- European Union
- South Korea
- New Zealand
These countries have passed legislations calling for labeling for approved bioengineered crops and prohibiting the import of unapproved varieties. Even for the approved varieties thresholds have been laid down above which a product must be labeled as containing or being derived from GMOs.
Food and feed products that contain or are derived from GMOs must be labeled. For refined products, documentation of their conventional, non-biotech source material is needed.
The labeling threshold for food products ranges from 0.9% in the European Union to 5% in Japan, 1 % in Australia and New Zealand and 3% for South Korea.
By getting GMO testing the exporter benefits as it helps in:
- Meeting regulations
- Delivering product to customer contract specifications involving threshold tolerances and unapproved varieties
- Optimising sampling and testing programs to achieve efficiency in cost and operations
- Resolving conflicts rapidly and cost-effectively
- Offering choice to the consumer for informed decision-making
- Providing competitive advantage to manufacturers & traders
- Expanding markets both domestic and international
- Obtaining greater price realization
- Establishing brand equity and further positioning Detection of Genetically modified foods
GMO Laws in India – A Quick Review
To safeguard GMO-food from biosafety hazards and prevent non-compliance, the MoEFCC laid out certain rules and regulations under EPA Rule 1989.
These rules were designed to address various problems like – hazardous chemicals, biomedical wastes, etc. and attract punitive action in case of non-violation. The rules are summarized below:
- No person shall import, export, transport, manufacture, process, use, or sell any GMOs, substances, or cells except with the approval of the GEAC.
- The use of pathogenic organisms or GMOs or cells for a research purpose shall only be allowed in laboratories or inside laboratory areas notified for this purpose under the EPA, 1986.
- Any person operating or using GMOs for scale-up or pilot operations shall have to obtain permission from GEAC.
- Experiments for education involving GMOs can be undertaken with the oversight of IBSCs.
- Deliberate or unintentional release of GMOs isn’t allowed.
- Production in which GMOs are generated or used shall not be commenced except with the approval of GEAC. All approvals shall be for 4 years at first instance renewable for 2 years at a time.
- GEAC shall have powers to revoke approvals in case of:
- Any new information on the harmful effects of GMOs.
- GMOs cause such damage to the environment as could not be envisaged when approval was given.
- Non-compliance with any conditions stipulated by GEAC.
How Can We Help?
We are accredited by NABL – ISO/IEC 17025 and approved by the Export Inspection Council of India GMO fro GMO testing in a number of Agricultural Products and Commodities. We have successfully participated in International Proficiency program for the detection of GMO.
We at ARBRO always strive to give the best possible technology at most competitive prices. We have therefore chosen the DNA based technology over the ELISA based technology which depends on assaying the protein which the inserted DNA sequence is coding for.
The DNA REAL TIME PCR based technology targets the DNA of the plant as well as the DNA of the promoter which has been used to modify the plant.
Contact us today for testing your samples for GMO/Non-GMO certification.