The BCH modalities of operation require the BCH to make use of existing unique identification systems for living modified organisms, as appropriate, to facilitate searching and retrieval of information.
Currently, the only unique identification system to be made available through the BCH is the OECD Unique Identifier for Transgenic Plants (see the Revised 2006: OECD Guidance for the Designation of a Unique Identifier for Transgenic Plants
(ENV/JM/MONO(2002)7/REV1), published by the OECD in February 2002 and revised in November 2006).
The OECD Unique Identifier is a simple alphanumeric code that is given to each living modified plant that is approved for commercial use, including for use as food or feed. The guidance has been designed so that developers of a new transgenic plant can generate an identifier and include it in the dossiers that they forward to national authorities during the safety assessment process. Once approved, national authorities can then forward the unique identifier to the OECD Secretariat for inclusion in the OECD’s product database, from which the information is automatically shared with the Biosafety Clearing-House.
The unique identifier is a nine-digit code, composed of three elements that are separated by dashes (-). These elements are outlined below:
- 2 or 3 alphanumeric digits to designate the applicant
- 5 or 6 alphanumeric digits to designate the transformation event
- 1 numerical digit for verification (this is intended to reduce errors by ensuring the integrity of the alphanumeric code)
Two approaches are possible for products created with more than one transformation event (often referred to as “stacked” transformation events), where these transformation events have been previously approved for commercialisation. An applicant may choose to generate a novel unique identifier for such products, or they may choose to use a combination of the unique identifiers from products previously approved for commercialisation.