GM plants compared to the baseline; a whole genome sequencing approach
For the environmental risk assessment of market applications of genetically modified (GM) crops, several studies are submitted. One of these studies includes the molecular characterisation of the GM crop. Briefly the characterisation elucidates whether the genes of interest have been inserted properly, other DNA sequences have been inserted unintentionally, and endogenous plant genes have been disrupted.
With the introduction of novel methodologies as ‘Next Generation Sequencing’ (NGS), sequences of complete plant genomes become available at relatively low costs. This enables a new molecular characterisation tool. COGEM has commissioned a research project for getting more insight into the applicability of NGS for the molecular characterisation of GM crops.
Based on the results of the project, she concludes that NGS is valuable for this purpose. The technique is expected to be used more and more in the future. However, COGEM notes that it is important that applicants will show how the technique and bioinformatics analyses have been performed, allowing third parties to ascertain whether scientific standards are met. Therefore, COGEM advises that, before the risk assessment procedure starts, these analyses will be randomly checked by a European coordinating authority. Thereafter, the EU member states can use these results for the molecular characterisation and environmental risk assessment.