Increased Demand Drives New GMO Testing Technology
A recent article in The Organic & Non-GMO Report described the increased interest in non-GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling, which is driving the increased demand for faster, cheaper and more accurate GMO testing technology.
More food companies are getting their products verified as GMO-free to meet consumer demand and the new national GMO labeling law. Non-GMO verification is based on testing. This testing ensures that the GMO content in food ingredients is below the acceptable threshold, as defined by non-GMO verification programs like the Non-GMO Project and NSF’s True North Program. The most common threshold of acceptance for GMO content is 0.9%, which is consistent with the threshold for GMO labeling in Europe, although the Non-GMO project does have different thresholds for seed and animal feed.
Current GMO Testing Technology
There are two widely-used methods for GMO detection. Lateral flow devices, or LFDs, detect proteins on a test strip and are most often used on-site due to their ease of use and rapid results. In contrast, PCR is performed in a laboratory. It detects the DNA of a genetically modified trait, and is the current “gold standard” test method because of its sensitivity and precision and ability to detect GMOs in processed foods. However, PCR testing does have its drawbacks. It can take up to three days and is costly, especially compared to LFD testing.
Currently, many companies use both testing methods. LFD strips are often used to screen incoming commodities for GMOs and then PCR testing is used to quantify the amount of GM presence. According to Jamie Welch, a scientist at EnviroLogix, “the two systems work well in conjunction [but] both have benefits and drawbacks.”
New GMO Testing Technology
There are new testing technologies on the horizon. With more consumers demanding to know what is in their food, and GMO labeling laws being passed, more food manufacturers are taking a closer look at their suppliers and asking for assurance that their materials are non-GMO compliant. It is critical that GMO testing be easy, affordable and fast to keep pace with the needs of the global food supply chain.
EnviroLogix developed a rapid molecular-based testing platform called DNAble. It is similar to PCR, but faster and much less expensive. It is so easy to use that testing can be performed on-site in a matter of minutes.
“It does what PCR does but with a crude sample and in less than 10 minutes,” says Dean Layton, a Senior VP at EnviroLogix, “anyone that has a basic lab setup but needs real time point-of-need answers could benefit from it.”
Photo credit: The Organic & Non-GMO Report