GMO Testing

Genetically modified (GM) food is constantly entering the food chain due to an increase worldwide in the cultivation of GM crops. In the US for example: approximately 95% of all soybean, and 90% of all corn (maize) is genetically modified.

Genetic modification involves the insertion of ‘transgene’ from a donor organism (bacterium, virus, or plant/animal) into a plant cell nucleus, where it integrates into the plant DNA to produce a transgenic plant. A transgenic plant has undergone a permanent change, and the modification will be passed into the seeds of the plant. Genetic engineering in this way is designed to confer desired traits, for example: herbicide tolerance (glyphosate or glufosinate ammonium herbicide) and insect resistance (i.e. to insects such as European corn borer, corn rootworm, black cutworm and fall armyworm).

The regulation policies for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) vary all around the world. Many like the European Union (EU) have legislation stating that any food/feed which; contains, consists of, or contains ingredients produced from these GMOs must be labelled as such. Therefore, for compliance, companies need to test for GMO presence prior to import/export of produce.

It is also a requirement of the Soil Association that companies promoting their products as ‘organic’ should not include any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). For organic producers, our test and the UKAS accredited certificate you will receive, provides the evidence needed to reassure the Soil Association of your GMO status.

The technique utilised for GMO testing is Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), through the use of multiple targeted primer pairs. These tests detect the presence/absence of individual traits (i.e. CaMV35s promoter), or entire events (i.e. Roundup Ready Soya), allowing for flexibility in the range of GMO events that can be detected.

All Qualitative (Detected/Not Detected) testing is validated to have a Limit of Detection (LOD) of 0.1%, we also have a small range of Quantitative tests that will provide a percentage of GM content within a Range of Quantitation. It is recommended that Qualitative testing is performed to identify specific traits present prior to any Quantitative assays.

We are continuously developing more tests to add to our services through our R&D programs, and are also able to gain UKAS accreditation for qualitative assays under our Flexible Scope. So if we don’t currently have a GMO trait accredited that your company requires, please contact us for further information.

We provide a free consultancy service whereby we can advise on the test most suitable for you depending on your product, origin, previous test results, expectations of GM status, etc. Simply tell us the nature of the sample and we will advise which test is most applicable.

SYNLAB Food Testing Laboratory is accredited to ISO17025 standards by UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service). Our schedule of accreditation covers tests on many sample types to detect CaMV35s, NOS, Roundup Ready Soya and Bt-176. Note that screen tests using CaMV35s and NOS cannot always be accredited as it is sample-specific. All maize and soya screens, and mixed samples where maize or soya are present, can be accredited. With in-house molecular biology expertise and flexible scope of accreditation we are able to develop and validate tests for other GMO events rapidly.

For whole grain samples (such as whole soya beans) a 1kg sample is required in order to offer accreditation. If the sample arrives ground then a minimum 100g sample is required – 200g preferred to allow for re-tests should this be necessary.

Standard turnaround is 3 working days after sample receipt – samples to be received by 10am. A maximum 2 day express service is available for a premium.