September 2023

Review of methods and challenges associated with detection of Precision Bred Products

Earlier this year, the UK National Reference Laboratory for GMOs based at LGC was commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to review the current state-of-the-art methods for the potential detection of Precision Bred Organisms (PBOs) in food and feed supply chains and to provide recommendations towards developing a framework for the traceability of PBOs.

PBOs possess genetic variability resulting from the application of modern biotechnology, but could also have arisen through traditional processes. In March 2023, the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act was passed in the UK, which brought forward primary legislation to amend the regulatory definition of a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) and to exclude from it those organisms that have genetic changes that could also have arisen through traditional processes.

The report aims to clarify use of sector-specific terminology and related international developments. A focus is given on the current scope and challenges for the analytical detection of specific DNA sequences alongside supportive traceability tools, including reference materials and databases. The report provides a series of recommendations towards helping develop a framework for the traceability of PBOs as well as some of the future analytical challenges this presents.

The report will be of interest to scientists and analysts involved in developing molecular biology assays for the detection of small DNA sequence changes, government departments and related stakeholders involved in assessing the efficacy of methods for the traceability of PBOs, as well as to a broader audience (e.g., academia, industry, retailers, etc.,) who are interested in some of the scope and challenges that detection of PBOs may present.

Read the full report on the FSA's website here. A PDF version of the report can be found here