The most popular and recent advancement in food production technology is the genetically modified organism, or GMO for short. By definition, GMO is any organism whose genes or genetic material has been altered using recombinant DNA (in-vitro) method.
Nowadays, several plants such as corn and soybean are classified under GMOs when their original genetic makeup is modified by adding external genetic material into their DNA sequence. Produce that is grown from GMO plant seeds also exhibits the qualities of genetic modification.
Several major importers of food products have strict guidelines that control the import and use of food products derived from GMO seeds.
As India is a major producer and exporter of GMO produce, the producers and exporters need to ensure that their product adheres to the strict guidelines of the country their product is being exported to. This can be most efficiently done using reliable and expert GMO test labs.
What you need to know about GMO products
GMO technique has been a boon for food and feed producers to make their produce resistant to damage from insects and act as a herbicide. A novel protein is inserted into the crop’s original DNA sequence to achieve this resistance power. This makes commercial agriculture production more efficient.
The external genes that are inserted into the original DNA share several common elements. Each artificial DNA sequence contains at least one promoter, a structural gene, and a terminator.
Why is there a need to get GMO tests done for agricultural products?
Although GMO food products are gaining popularity among producers and exporters, the major importers have also set strict regulations to control the import of GMO agricultural products.
For GMO food and feed producers and exporters in India, it is mandatory to get GMO test done of their products when planning to export to some countries, such as:
- New Zealand
- European Union
- South Korea
These countries have made it mandatory to label bio-engineered agriculture products that contain GMO content with approved thresholds. There are several bio-engineered agriculture products that the regulations prevent from being imported into the countries.
Even the GMO products that are approved under the import regulations should have labels that clearly state that the product contains GMO or is derived from it. Refined agriculture products also need to have testing documentation that states their non-biotech source material clearly on the label.
The European Union is the strictest in terms of importing GMO altered produce with a maximum allowed limit set at 0.9%, while the limit is 1% for Australia and New Zealand, 3% for South Korea, and 5% for Japan.
What are the benefits of performing GMO tests on agriculture products before exporting?
Some of the major benefits that producers and exporters of agriculture products get by getting GMO testing done on their products are:
- Adhering to GMO restricting regulations according to a specific country
- Ensuring prompt delivery of food and feed products as per customer specifications for unapproved varieties
- Maximizing cost-efficiency in sampling, testing, and operation
- Resolving conflicts swiftly using cost-effective ways
- Providing complete information for consumers to make informed decisions
- Giving a competitive advantage over rival companies
- Expansion into the domestic and global market
- Obtaining better price realization
How to choose the best GMO testing facility?
There are several leading and reliable agricultural laboratories around India that offer effective and efficient testing of produce. Some of the best testing labs choose to perform tests focused on DNA, as opposed to the ELISA method.
The DNA REAL-TIME PCR based technique focuses on the DNA sequence of the plant and the promoter that is used for modifying it. This technique is far more sensitive and accurate than the ELISA method and offers fool-proof analyses and reports.
This testing method clearly shows whether the sample is genetically modified or not as well as showing the precise level of GMOs present in it. These testing laboratories provide several different types of GMO testing, including:
- Single-Threshold GMO Analysis – This test shows whether the GMO content in the sample is below or over a specified single threshold and even across multiple thresholds.
- Quantitative GMO Analysis – This test shows the presence or absence of GMO content only
- Semi-Quantitative GMO Analysis – This test is useful to determine whether the sample contains GMO sequence above, below, or between thresholds.