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Past Discussions 2013

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Next activities under the Network and discussion themes [#4419]
Dear all,

Thanks for participating in the Network of Laboratories for LMO Detection & Identification in particular those who have recently posted messages or joined the Network.

The Network was established in decision BS-V/9 to facilitate the identification of LMOs and the sharing of information and experience among laboratories. We are currently in the process of planning the next activities under the Network, and a tentative timeline will be sent to all participants in the first week of April which will include information on online discussions and a face-to-face interregional workshop.

In the meantime, we would like invite you to propose discussion themes that could help steering the upcoming activities. When proposing the themes, please focus on challenges faced by LMO detection laboratories and potential solutions, taking into account issues that were highlighted in the previous discussions of this forum, such as:

- Interpretation of detection and identification results in light of different thresholds for labelling and adventitious presence;
- Development of techniques to respond to new, unauthorized transformation events;
- Development of techniques to respond to stacked transformation events;
- Experiences detecting transgenes in wild relatives;
- Harmonization of LMO sampling and detection methods.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and my colleague Dina Abdelhakim. Together Dina and I will be facilitating the discussions and activities of the Network from the side of the Secretariat.

We count with your active participation in the Network and look forward to hearing from you. 

Best regards,
Manoela Miranda
posted on 2013-03-13 20:24 UTC by Ms. Manoela Miranda, UNEP/SCBD
RE: Next activities under the Network and discussion themes [#4481]
Dear Manuela and Dina, thank you for guiding us in the present discussions.
Dear colleagues,

I found the proposed topics are relevant and useful in the way of efficient implementation of the Protocol.

Here are some of my comments to the proposed list of topics:

- Interpretation of detection and identification results in light of different thresholds for labelling and adventitious presence;
Bringing in mind that countries have different approach in limitation the presence of LMOs in products to be labeled, as ex. in EU – it is 0,9%, in Japan – 5%, in Moldova 1% for products and 0,3 % for seeds, etc, the process of detection and identification should be harmonized.

- Development of techniques to respond to new, unauthorized transformation events;

- Development of techniques to respond to stacked transformation events;

- Experiences detecting transgenes in wild relatives;

- Harmonization of LMO sampling and detection methods.
As regards to the detection methods, by present there are more then 60 of validated detection methods approved in the EU, for ex., it would be preferable to discuss the most precise methods, as well as most accessible for many countries, including those which are just starting the LMOs detection activities in laboratories, as well as to recommend much limited number of methods to be applied.
    -   Validation of detection methods, procedures and harmonization within the countries of different geographical regions might be useful and welcomed.
    -  Accessibility of technics and methods for identification and detection by countries with limited capacities is also might be a topic of discussion.
    -  Language accessibility of the detection protocols and interpretation of results, regional-subregional approach is considered appropriate to make possible improvement of control and monitoring, as well as advice risk assessment and decision making.
   -  Development of express detection methods, might be also useful during the primary custom control or in cases of accidental releases may be also discussed.
   -   In my view, establishment of regional-subregional network of detection laboratories and centers of excellences would be extremely useful and will allow to communicate efficient, to ensure exchange of information and experience, methodology and methods, good practices, to organize trainings and education, to ensure cooperation.
   -  A system of continued trainings and workshops is needed to build capacities and improve skills and abilities of laboratory personnel, academia and control services.
   -The detection and identification results provided by a laboratory should be published via BCH and available for public.

Best wishes,

Dr.Angela Lozan, Ministry of Environment, MD
posted on 2013-03-16 23:43 UTC by Angela Lozan
RE: Next activities under the Network and discussion themes [#4555]
Dear Manoela, Dina and members of the Network,

Thank you to the Secretariat for the above intervention and for guiding us in the present discussions. Thank you Angela for sharing such relevant issues also experienced by our laboratory in Brazil.

I would also like to share some of our concerns regarding the following topics proposed by the Secretariat:

- Development of techniques to respond to new, unauthorized transformation events:

This is to me, one of the most important issue. If we are able to effectively be prepared to detect new and unauthorized events, our chances of properly monitor and mitigate possible adverse effects will increase.

The first requirement is to have public access to the genetic information of LMOs. I would like to quote a colleague that has recently published a nice perspective about confidential business information (CBI) on biosafety data:

“[…] such claims oftentimes marginally serve their legitimate purpose to protect commercial interests and unnecessarily limit transparency and public peer review of data submitted to regulatory authorities. CBI and proprietary claims also restrict access to transgene sequence data, transgenic seeds, and other GMO materials, which precludes the development of independent research and monitoring strategies.”

- Experiences detecting transgenes in wild relatives:

One possible difficulty in detecting transgenes in wild relatives might be related to possible changes in DNA sequence of the transgene insert and junction regions which might affect how expression products will be produced and how DNA markers will work. If latter don’t work as expected, false negative or differences in the quantities of transgene detected might occur.

I would like to recall one study that has investigated this. La Paz et al. (2010) found differences at the DNA sequence level in junction regions of MON810. The authors have analyzed 28 commercial hybrid varieties event MON 810 included in the Spanish catalogue. Another study by Morisset et al. (2009) found differences within the insert sequence of maize hybrid variety of TC1507 event. These studies were performed after the approval of both GM events which shows that, for some reason, the stability studies present in the risk analysis did not accomplished that.


Sarah Agapito

Nielsen KM (2013) Biosafety Data as Confidential Business Information. PLoS Biol 11(3): e1001499. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001499.
La Paz et al. (2010)  Stability of the MON 810 transgene in maize. Plant Mol Biol 74(6): 563-71. doi: 10.1007/s11103-010-9696-2.
Morisset et al. (2009) Detection of genetically modified organisms—closing the gaps. Nat Biotech 27: 700 – 701. doi:10.1038/nbt0809-700
posted on 2013-03-20 16:37 UTC by Dr. Sarah Agapito-Tenfen, NORCE Norwegian Research Centre
RE: Next activities under the Network and discussion themes [#4594]
Dear Dina, dear Manoela, dear all,

I would like to add some general thoughts to the discussion:

Concerning the availability of GMO detection methods I believe we should first brain pool and check the status quo of all the existing information, databases and the literature etc. in different parts of the world. As already mentioned by Angela, in Europe there are many GMO detection methods available (http://gmo-crl.jrc.ec.europa.eu/gmomethods) that have been validated by the European Union Reference Laboratory for Genetically Modified Food and Feed (EURL-GMFF; http://gmo-crl.jrc.ec.europa.eu) together with the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL; http://gmo-crl.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ENGL/ENGL.html) in the European Union GMO approval process. Furthermore at national level in Germany there are additionally various validated methods available, e.g. for construct or element-specific detection methods. But other databases are also available, e.g. (http://gmdd.shgmo.org)

Reference material is a very relevant issue. For EU approved GMOs there is material available e.g. from IRMM (http://irmm.jrc.ec.europa.eu/reference_materials_catalogue/catalogue/Pages/index.aspx) and AOCS (https://secure.aocs.org/crm/index.cfm). Nevertheless for non-approved GMO it is sometimes hard to get material for GMO analysis. I would be very important to check the availability of such material in different countries and it would be helpful if such material, which is available in one part of the world, could be made available to other laboratories in other parts of the world.

Regarding non approved GMOs I think it is important to be specific about this term. A non-approved GMO in Europe e.g. can be approved in Canada, USA or Argentina or vice versa. Some other GMOs can be non-approved globally. Considerations about this important topic have been done by the working group UGM of the ENGL, were I was an active member in. This document (Overview on the detection, interpretation and reporting on the presence of unauthorised genetically modified materials) is available here (http://gmo-crl.jrc.ec.europa.eu/guidancedocs.htm). I also would like to draw the attention on a paper of Arne Holst-Jensen et al, Detecting un-authorized genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and derived materials, Biotechnology Advances 30 (2012) 1318–1335.
In this context I think it would be very helpful to have up-to date information about the GMOs in different countries that are approved, grown, traded or under development (if known).

To detect stacked events is an issue but to my scientific understanding up to now the only strategy to distinguish a stacked event from a mixture of single events is to investigate single seed kernels. When material is mixed or ground a distinction is impossible due to the lack “stacked event” markers.

I believe that different legal GMO thresholds in different countries should not be a crucial point regarding the selected detection method. Usually these methods, especially when they are validated, cover the range of all relevant GMO concentrations that is 0, 1 % - 5 %.

I also suggest to have a space for this expert forum to upload and share documents.

My best regards
Sven Pecoraro
posted on 2013-03-22 13:52 UTC by Dr. Sven Pecoraro, Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority