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Food Safety

Based on the relevant EU legislation on GMOs, Regulation (EC) 882/2004, and Regulation (EU) 2017/625, it is the obligation of the EU countries to carry out official controls for:

  • The deliberate release of GMOs (e.g. cultivation of GM maize) in the EU

  • The presence of GMOs and/or GM material in food, animal feed and seeds at import stage and on the EU market

Official controls verify the absence of unauthorised GMOs and GM material on the EU market. In addition, they check proper traceability and labelling.

These controls are organised based on the Member States' Multiannual National Control Plans. Controls may consist of audits, inspections, the latter including documentary, identity and physical checks. Physical checks may comprise sampling and testing. GMO testing for the purpose of official controls is carried out using validated methods of detection.

Commission Recommendation 2004/787/EC provides guidance for sampling and detection of GMOs and materials produced from GMOs. For sampling of feed, Regulation (EC) 152/2009 applies. For GM feed material whose authorisation is pending or has expired in the EU, Regulation (EU) 619/2011 provides harmonised methods for sampling and testing.

Upon the detection on the EU market of an unauthorised GMO, a notification is submitted through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) in order to share relevant information between its members and respond collectively and efficiently to possible risks. Emergency measures can be adopted and their severity depends on the gravity of the situation.

Following the request of the Member States expressed during the meeting of the Regulatory Committee of Directive 2001/18/EC held on 18 October 2018 (see point A.02), the Member States explored where further convergence on seed testing was possible. The result of this work can be found here.

Emergency measures due to the presence of unauthorised GMOs are currently in place for rice originating from China. The measures:

  • Set out a list of products to which the measures apply

  • Require that consignments of rice products originating from China must be accompanied by a certificate demonstrating the absence of non-authorised GM rice

  • Set out the frequency of sampling and analysis by EU countries at 100% of all consignments

  • Provide harmonised methods of sampling and testing

The Commission carries out audits or inspections to ensure that national authorities are fulfilling their legal obligations with regard to official controls. To learn more about these audits, please consult: