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Workshop on Detection and Identification of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) 2013

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Capacity at regional and national level to detect and identify LMOs [#5543]
A summary of Parties' capacity to detect and identify LMOs was prepared by the Secretariat on the basis of information submitted by Parties on the status of the implementation of their obligations under the Protocol. In particular, an analysis of the current capacity to detect and identify LMOs at the national and regional levels will be shown.

This summary will provide a baseline to assist in the identification of potential gaps in Parties' capacity Participants are invited to familiarise themselves with the data in the document in preparation for consideration during the development of the “plan of action” and “recommendations” during the workshop.
posted on 2013-11-20 20:27 UTC by Dina Abdelhakim, SCBD
This is a reply to 5543 RE: Capacity at regional and national level to detect and identify LMOs [#5545]
Thank you Dina and the Secretariat for this very useful summary.

Best wishes,

Sarah Agapito
posted on 2013-11-21 11:47 UTC by Dr. Sarah Agapito-Tenfen, GenØk Centre for Biosafety
This is a reply to 5543 RE: Capacity at regional and national level to detect and identify LMOs [#5546]
Good morning Dina. Thank you very much for this summary. Best Regards from El Salvador.
posted on 2013-11-21 13:41 UTC by Jeremias Ezequiel Yanes
This is a reply to 5546 RE: Capacity at regional and national level to detect and identify LMOs [#5547]
Many thanks for the valuable documents ahead of the meeting!
posted on 2013-11-21 14:12 UTC by Dr. Galina Mozgova, Belarus
This is a reply to 5543 RE: Capacity at regional and national level to detect and identify LMOs [#5548]
Thanks Dina for this information.

A number of different entities are involved in developing, assessing, and using detection methods for LMOs.  As part of the assembly of dossiers for submission to regulatory agencies, biotechnology developers from both the private and public sector design and validate detection methods and create reference materials.  Where required by competent authorities, biotechnology developers provide methods that are designed in accordance with existing national and international standards as published by the ISO and Codex Alimentarius.  Some governments have chosen in the past to develop their own methods in addition to the method provided by the biotechnology developer, though this is less common today.  These and other methods may be used to conduct regulatory studies on LMOs, measure the purity of seed to verify the presence or absence of LMOs, presence or identity of particular LMO events, or to quantify the proportion of an LMO event. 
If Parties wish to demonstrate compliance with measures addressing illegal transboundary movement of LMOs via testing, it is critical that validated detection methods are used.  Laboratories that test materials prior to export or at import will need to adhere to internationally-accepted testing protocols and proficiency standards.  As indicated above, there are multiple international organizations working towards common (recognized) standards for detection methods.   In addition, there are a number of proficiency programs available to enable laboratories to determine their ability to detect LMOs.  Four key programs are offered by:

• USDA GIPSA (http://www.gipsa.usda.gov/fgis/insp_weigh/proficprog.html),
• ISTA (http://www.seedtest.org/en/proficiency-tests-_content---1--1157.html),
• the GEMMA program at fapas (http://fapas.com/prog.cfm?currsch=gemma), and
• AOCS (http://www.aocs.org/LabServices/content.cfm?ItemNumber=856).

Any testing laboratories that are established will need to be able to test for all commercialized biotechnology traits.  Currently, 2,497 regulatory approvals involving 25 biotech crops and 319 biotech events have been issued by competent authorities in 59 countries.[1]  Building capacity for testing for all these events would require Parties to test for all LMOs which are not approved (i.e. illegal in trade) in their country.  Presently, laboratories in exporting countries serve most of this need, and commercial laboratories are available in many areas and do most of the testing.   Beyond the events currently approved, laboratories will also need to consider new products that will be entering the market.  In addition, some countries may consider stacks or combined-event products as needing differentiation; testing can only be carried out separately for the component events of the stack.  Testing for stacks per se in bulk seeds or grain is not possible using existing or any other foreseen method.  LMOs already discontinued and removed from commerce may also be present in the commodity chain for some time after being discontinued.

Significant resources are required to implement a single analytical method in an existing laboratory.  In developing countries, this would not only require building the capacity to independently test for each event but will also include the need to build and equip facilities, train personnel, develop validation and quality-control procedures that are aligned with international standards, and staff the facility to a level sufficient for routine sampling and analysis, potentially at multiple ports of entry, and at a sample throughput level that does not hinder trade.  Beyond the technical development, validation and analysis capacity, enforcement personnel, information systems, and a management/decision-making structure will be required.  Such activities will and are already competing for resources with other activities that are necessary to ensure food security. 

The Parties should recognize that, should they take on the task of testing all, or a portion of imports, the magnitude of testing will be ever expanding and more complex and become more costly as the globalization of the technology continues.  For this reason, it is the view of the GIC that Parties would be better served by developing policies that do not require perpetual testing of food and feed for possible illegal transboundary movement of LMOs.  These policies should recognize that the “zero-tolerance” approach is not feasible given the realities of what is practical within the global grain trade.  To ensure access to global grain supplies, they should aim to address issues caused by asynchronous authorization of LMOs, be science-based and consistent with international trade rules, and should permit the establishment of administrative tolerances for products that are approved in at least one country.  The optimum approach to identity-preserved production requires the establishment of commercially reasonable, widely-trusted systems comparable to those already in use for controlling the quality and identity of grain in global markets. Testing can then be helpful in determining the integrity of these systems of identity-preserved production, preferably done before export of the commodity.

Many thanks,

Ray Shillito
posted on 2013-11-22 22:18 UTC by Dr Raymond Shillito, BASF Corporation
This is a reply to 5543 RE: Capacity at regional and national level to detect and identify LMOs [#5549]

Thanks a lot Dina for sharing the background information, summary and other relevant documents posted this week for effective participations of all of us.

I fully agree with  Raymond Shillito's post which has raised all valid issues, this is very important to take note of the number and the complex nature (stacked events) of GM crops/events commercialized. To develop detection methods for all these events, developing countries  need to upgrade the capacity/expertise. The only way out can be to employ the validated methods meeting all ISO standards. The common platform/international fora with representative experts from different regions can assist all parties to handle/tackle all these issues in a harmonised way.

Hoping that this workshop would bring out excellent outcome specially when it is being organised at JRC, Ispra, as JRC is undertaking excellent work in area of GM detection and developing validated methods, imparting trainings and also organising proficiency testings.

With best wishes.
posted on 2013-11-23 16:37 UTC by Dina Abdelhakim, SCBD
This is a reply to 5543 RE: Capacity at regional and national level to detect and identify LMOs [#5550]
Dear Participants,

Thank you all for your contributions so far.

Please note that the final version of the document has now be posted online and can be found at http://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/bs/bsws-lmo-01/information/bsws-lmo-01-inf-02-en.pdf

Furthermore another Information Document summarising the online discussions of the network that have taken place between May and June 2013 is also available at http://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/bs/bsws-lmo-01/information/bsws-lmo-01-inf-01-en.pdf

I hope everyone has a safe trip and I look forward to seeing you all soon.
Best regards,
posted on 2013-11-23 16:48 UTC by Dina Abdelhakim, SCBD