There are many talking points around GMO crop acceptance. Here we explore the detection of GMO traits as well as looking at how identity preservation and origin-controlled crops are helping the market to develop.


Rejection of US corn and Dried Distiller’s Grains (DDG) shipments due to presence of the MIR162 trait have left many shippers exposed to the costs of diverting product already in transit. As the number of rejections rise and requirements to screen every DDG shipment are implemented, options to screen and segregate product are also needed. Some traders are delaying new shipments until screening is complete, or exploring alternative products like rapeseed meal, as feed mills look into replacement options, in case the situation intensifies.


The MIR162 event received its first approvals in the US in 2008 and deregulation in 2010. Approvals followed in many additional countries, including Korea, Japan, Brazil and the European Union (EU). Production of MIR162 corn is also approved in Canada and Argentina. Following its deregulation the trait has been in commercial production since 2011. Like other approved traits it is likely to be commingled throughout the US supply chain. In the autumn of 2011, some trading companies refused to accept corn with the MIR162 trait because the trait had not yet been approved in China. Approval for the trait was expected in early 2012. As a result few facilities took action to segregate products.


The MIR162 event is introduced to the corn genome by taking small genetic elements from Bacillus thuringiensis that result in the production of the Vip3A protein. The Vip3A protein is an insecticidal protein marketed in the Syngenta Viptera corn hybrids as being toxic to a range of pests.


GMO events here are detected by isolating DNA from either the plant or grain and using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the small fragment so that it can be quantified. PCR is an extremely sensitive methodology. It allows quantification as low as 0.1% presence and detection of trace levels as low as 0.01% (equivalent to finding 1 out of 10 000 kernels). This testing method is employed around the world and is applicable to plant material, grain, and processed products.

Quick screening for some GMOs as an indicator of the GMO trait can also be achieved by using LFS (Lateral Flow Strip) technology. These strips allow users to extract grain onsite and quickly determine a qualitative (positive/negative) presence of the trait. This methodology often has more limited detection capabilities and should be applied with caution.


Farmers in Ukraine cultivate both GMO and non-GMO crops, but until recently there has been no effective monitoring system that guarantees their separation. This limited the marketability of their non-GMO crops to international markets. SGS’ Identity Preservation (IP) programme, a strict monitoring system applied at every stage of the supply chain, from seed identification, to planting and every step to transportation, satisfies legal requirements on traceability. Ukraine now exports some 100 000 MT of non-GMO crops under SGS’ IP programme. This figure is expected to grow, as more of the country’s farmers enter the non-GMO export market.


Western Europe’s food and feed supply chain is heavily reliant on soya imports. The Danube Soya Initiative has introduced the Danube Soya Standard to help promote and propagate the cultivation, processing and marketing of GM-free, origin-controlled quality soya from the Danube region. Certification against the standard opens new markets to farmers and reduces the environmental impact of soya crops, compared to their imported competition. SGS has recently issued its first certification under the scheme.

From GMO identification, to opening new markets for Ukrainian farmers and certifying non-GMO crops for domestic markets within the EU, SGS’ GMO testing laboratories operate under strict guidelines and are accredited to ISO 17025 and ISO 9001:2008. We utilise international methods in all of our laboratories, validating the method in each location.

GMO crop acceptance and regulation varies around the world. SGS works with clients and regulators globally to overcome traceability, identification, testing and verification issues to improve trade, open new markets and increase your profitability. We can monitor and regulate GMO products through quality control programmes. This ensures compliance at the highest level of confidence, allowing your business to make informed and timely decisions.

Angela Carlson
Analytical Laboratory Manager

Alan Shirley
Global Sales Manager