New tests needed to detect GM soy, says Cert ID

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

'It’s very difficult to say carte-blanche what a testing protocol should be – it’s completely dependent on the individual supply chain and supplier,' said Richard Werran, managing director of Cert ID Europe.
'It’s very difficult to say carte-blanche what a testing protocol should be – it’s completely dependent on the individual supply chain and supplier,' said Richard Werran, managing director of Cert ID Europe.

Related tags: Genetically modified organism, Polymerase chain reaction

New GM crops such as CV127 soybean are not detectable with older testing methods, and food producers must update their testing protocols to avoid GM ingredients going undetected and undeclared in the food chain, according to Cert ID Europe.

The new soy variant, which the EU approved for use in food and feed in 2014, does not carry “classic​” markers of genetic modification in soy, according to Richard Werran, managing director of Cert ID Europe. This means tests should be updated to look for markers specific to CV127.

If companies are buying in non-GM soy, it’s very important that the supplier is using up-to-date protocols and an event-specific test for CV127, to ensure that it’s been excluded from the supply chain​,” said Werran. “Unless testing protocols and risk assessments are brought up to date, it could fly under the radar, so to speak, for companies that want to make sure the products they source and purchase are non-GM​.”

Supply-chain risks must be assessed

When asked if he believed there were potential issues with soy supply chains, he said this was not the case, and all of Cert ID’s clients will automatically be required to update their risk assessments and testing protocols. He said he couldn’t speak for other non-GMO programmes, but that organisations in general were aware of the need for a new approach to tests.

It all depends on the individual supply chain – some supply chains are at an elevated risk than others. But essentially, all sampling and testing should be risk-based – that means there has to be an up-to-date risk assessment in place​,” said Werran.

It may be that there is a high level of testing is required, to ensure systems and procedures are working as they should be. But it’s very difficult to say carte-blanche what a testing protocol should be – it’s completely dependent on the individual supply chain and supplier​,” he added.

Testing technology evolves

Grown in Brazil, CV127 soy – more formally known as BPS-CV127-9 soybean, or Cultivance – is engineered to be tolerant of imidazolinone herbicides. It is the first GMO which is not detectable by traditional tests for GM markers such as 35S promoter or NOS terminator, according to Werran. But he said while testing protocols required may be getting more complex, testing technology has also improved. 

[Polymerase chain reaction] testing itself has advanced enormously over the past 10 to 15 years, and we are seeing new types of PCR testing such as digital PCR, multiplexing, which is going to mean that testing in the future will become more accurate, quicker – it will also become cheaper, and more GMOs can be tested for at the same time. So I think we’re also seeing advances in detection technology of all kinds, particularly PCR​,” said Werran. 

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