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Past activities 2010 - 2012

Theme 1: Interpretation of detection and identification results in light of different thresholds for labelling and adventitious presence

Different countries and regions have different requirements for the labelling of living modified organisms (LMOs) and different thresholds at which the presence of an LMO triggers any labelling requirements. Similarly, the sensitivity and accuracy of different methods for detecting LMOs give rise to different margins of error in interpreting the results from LMO detection. So even if the relative quantity of an LMO detected in a sample is below the threshold for labelling, the margin of error associated with the test may indicate that the actual percentage of the LMO in the sample and the consignment from which it was drawn could be above the labelling threshold. Likewise, the relative quantity of an LMO detected in a sample may be above the threshold for labelling but the margin of error associated with the test may mean that the actual quantity of the LMO in the sample is below the threshold.
  • What experiences do laboratories have with interpreting test results for labelling purposes?
  • What is the role of the margin of error in the interpretation of test results?

Theme 2: Development of techniques to respond to new, unauthorized transformation events

Detection methods are typically only developed as an LMO passes through the regulatory process. For LMOs where the research is ongoing and no regulatory approvals have been sought, there may be no detection method available nor even awareness that the LMO exists. At times, these LMOs enter the commercial stream despite not having received regulatory approval (e.g. Triffid flax, Liberty Link rice). Detection methods must then be developed very rapidly. A related issue is so-called ‘asynchronous approvals’ where an LMO has been approved for use in one jurisdiction but not in another. The second jurisdiction may not be familiar with methods for detecting and identifying the new LMO.
  • What experiences do laboratories have with the detection of unauthorized transformation events?
  • What are the challenges to developing detection methods for unauthorized transformation events?
  • How might laboratories collaborate to address the need for detection methods for unauthorized events?
  • How have different laboratories responded to the challenges of asynchronous approvals?

This Forum is closed.

Theme 3: Development of techniques to respond to stacked transformation events

The first living modified plants introduced on the market incorporated single transformation events. Using event-specific detection methods, e.g. methods to detect a single transformation event such as MON810 or T25, meant that if a laboratory detected the transformation event, it knew exactly which LMO was in the sample. As the technology has progressed, however, developers are increasingly incorporating or ‘stacking’ multiple transformation events into one plant. According to the information in the BCH, no fewer than nine different stacked LMOs have been developed using MON810 as a parent and two stacked LMOs have been developed with T25. These include one LMO developed through a crossing between MON810 and T25. Detection and identification of LMOs in bulk samples (e.g. seed lots or grain shipments) is thus becoming increasingly complex. Detecting the MON810 event in a mixture of seeds may mean that the sample contains any one or more of the nine stacked LMOs and/or the parental MON810. Furthermore, if both MON810 and T25 are detected in a sample, it is impossible to know whether the sample contains some LMOs with MON810 and others with T25, just LMOs with the stacked transformation events or some combination of all three LMOs.
  • How are laboratories responding to the challenge of identifying LMOs in light of the stacking of transformation events?

This Forum is closed.

Theme 4: Experiences detecting transgenes in wild relatives

One of the suggested topics for discussion was for participants to share experiences and challenges with the detection of transgenes and/or their proteins in wild relatives. It was pointed out that this is a theme that the environmental authorities need to consider because it sometimes presents difficulties in detection. We encourage participants to post information on their experiences and any challenges with this issue. Some aspects to consider include:
  • When to seek to detect whether transgenes have introgressed into wild relatives;
  • Different approaches to detecting transgenes in wild relatives depending on the native biodiversity of an area (e.g. centre of origin, the presence of closely-related wild relatives to the living modified organism);
  • How to conduct sampling in the field;
  • How to adapt DNA- and protein-based tests commonly used for crops to wild relatives;
  • How to report results.