A seven-lab consortium funded by the European Commission has commandeered the microarray for a new application: spotting GMOs. Particularly in the EU, where food has to be labeled as GMO or non-GMO, testing foods for GMOs could become a major market.
José Remacle, a leader of the project, says the group has been developing low-density microarrays to test for specific sequences of seven known GMOs, and that these chips should be ready for validation testing by September. “We have developed a full technology platform for the chips,” he says, adding that his lab in Belgium spun off Advanced Array Technology to commercialize various microarrays.
The decision to use arrays was an obvious one, Remacle says. “You have to make a lot of detections simultaneously,” he says. “For that, [the microarray] is the perfect tool.”
Validation testing poses some problems. “Once you process the food, you cut down the DNA. … This is the biggest problem for GMO detection,” Remacle says. “So we really have to validate the tool. In the first round we will do only food which has not been cooked or microwaved.” Several national labs will thoroughly test the chips, which will then be produced and sold to the food industry or official laboratories responsible for food control, Remacle says.
The labs making up the GMOchip project are Laboratoire de Biochimie Cellulaire in Belgium; Unité de Phyto-pathologie et Méthodologie de la Détection in France; Bras-series Kronenbourg in France; Laboratory of the Government Chemist in UK; La Concurrence, La Consommation, ET La Repression des Fraudes in France; Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas in Spain; and Agency BATS in Switzerland.
— Meredith Salisbury