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Reference Laboratory of the network on genetically modified organisms (GVO)
Genetically modified food and feed must be labelled as such. In order to monitor whether this statutory provision for labelling is complied with, suitable analytical methods are needed to identify genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Since 1994 standard methods for the detection of GMOs have been developed for food control and included in the collection of methods pursuant to § 64 of the German Food and Feed Act. To this end, a national expert group was coordinated by a working group within BfR which was appointed in 2006 as a Reference Laboratory for Genetically Modified Organisms under the European Regulation (EC) No. 1981/2006.
In the capacity of an experienced laboratory in molecular biology, the Reference Laboratory for GMO at BfR assists the Community Reference Laboratory in testing and validating methods of GMO detection and identification. Apart from this, BfR continues to be an active member of the national “§-64” expert group which consists of representatives of food control authorities, research as well as small and mid-sized companies. The secretariat has been under the remit of the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) since 2004.
Eight official analytical methods have been taken over into the official method collection. All of them are based on the analysis of the foreign DNA segment and have been standardised in interlaboratory trials with unknown samples. The German official methods cover relevant genetically modified (gm) maize lines, the most widespread gm-soybean line Roundup ReadyTM and screening methods which identify more than 80 % of the GMOs on the market. Furthermore a method was rapidly developed and published for detecting non-authorised gm-Papaya. Other methods for identifying GMOs that are not authorised in Europe are available for instance for salmon and tomatoes.