Techniques Used to Detect a Transgenic Plant

To detect genetic modifications in plants in general (for the methods of genetic modification, see Chaps. 1, 2) two different techniques could be applied (Anklam et al. 2002; Holst-Jensen 2007). One is based on the detection of genetic material (DNA), for example by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This technique is most versatile for the detection of GM plants and therefore preferably used and chosen for many applications (Lipp et al. 2005). The alternative approach is detecting the newly expressed protein(s) which most GM plants contain as a result of the insertion of the new gene(s). Here specific antibodies are applied and used in lateral flow strip tests or complex ELISA assays (Grothaus et al. 2007). As compared to PCR, protein techniques are more restricted in their applicability but can be very useful for certain raw commodities. DNA is relatively stable and is often still present in many products, even after processing of the plant material. Therefore genetic modifications in plants are more easily and reliably detected at the DNA level. However, this does not apply to highly processed GM materials or ingredients, such as oil, sugars or starch, which may no longer contain any DNA. Here, the EU regulations for example demand the traceability of the product through every phase of marketing, i.e. over the entire production and processing chain (EU 2003b).

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