Food Research Institute, NARO

International standardization for inspection methods to evaluate the commingling level of Genetically Modified seeds and grains more accurately

-The Group Testing method developed by NARO is included in ISO international standard-

National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) has played a leading role in the development of an international standard regarding group testing strategy-based inspection methods of genetically modified (GM) seeds and grains. The international standard ISO 22753: 2021 was published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) on August 27th. The annex to this international standard includes the "Group Testing method" developed by NARO and used as an official inspection method for evaluating the commingling level of GM grains in Japan. The "Group Testing method" is characterized by being able to accurately evaluate the commingling level in a lot irrespective of the presence of stacked event seeds/grains that have become popular in recent years. In the future, the "Group Testing method" will be widely used as an inspection method that conforms to the international standard, and it is expected that the reliability of quality control of imported agricultural products will be improved.


The international standard ISO 22753: 2021 describes general requirements, procedures and performance criteria for evaluating the content of GM seeds/grains in a lot by a group testing strategy that includes qualitative analysis of sub-sampled groups followed by statistical evaluation of the results. In its annex, the "Group Testing method" which was developed by NARO and stipulated as an official inspection method in Japan is listed as a specific example.

In Japan, since the mandatory labeling of GM foods in 2001, official inspection methods have been established and they have been used for inspection by many institutions in Japan and overseas. However, in recent years, due to the widespread use of stacked varieties, there has been an issue that the commingling level of GM seeds/grains is overestimated (higher than the actual commingling level) by the conventional inspection method. Hence, NARO has developed a "Group Testing method" that enables accurate evaluation of the commingling level even for stacked varieties. This method was proposed and adopted as an official inspection method in 2016.

It is expected that the issuance of this international standard will pave the way for the recognition of the above mentioned "Group Testing method" as an inspection method that conforms to the international standard in Japan and overseas, and for the wide use of the method in the international trade of agricultural products. Through this, it will lead to quality control of agricultural products imported into Japan and further improvement of food labeling reliability.

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