An application for authorising a GM food or feed must include methods for its detection, identification and quantification.
The European Union Reference Laboratory for GM Food and Feed (EURL GMFF), validates these methods by verifying their sensitivity, specificity, accuracy and reliability.
For this task, the EURL GMFF is assisted by the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL), which consist of national enforcement laboratories from all EU countries plus Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
The ENGL further plays an important role in the development, harmonisation, standardisation and implementation of means and methods for sampling, detection, identification and quantification of GMOs.
Once validated according to international standards by the EURL GMFF and by other relevant institutions, detection methods are publicly available in the GMOMETHODS database and available for use by National Reference Laboratories and official laboratories in the EU.
Detection and identification of unauthorised GMOs is generally based on some preliminary information on which laboratories can implement different strategies on a case-by-case basis. Screening methods may provide indications of the presence of unauthorised GMOs, but this normally requires further confirmation by different approaches.
The EURL GMFF and the ENGL have been working to assess challenges and possibilities to detect and identify organisms obtained with new mutagenesis techniques. Their report, published on 26 March 2019, addresses the challenges related to the detection of such plant GMOs.
Further work on GM animals and GM microorganisms is currently ongoing and being dealt with.