New technology can detect as little as 0.1 percent GMO contamination in crops, food

Monday, May 21, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: GMO, contamination, detection

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(NaturalNews) Identifying the presence of genetically-modified (GM) contaminants in food and food crops could soon become a whole lot easier and more accurate. Researchers from Lumora, a molecular diagnostics specialist company originating out of Cambridge University, have developed a unique method of illuminating and analyzing DNA strands that allows them to detect GM contaminants at levels as low as 0.1 percent, which is an astoundingly accurate rate.

Published in the journal BMC Biotechnology, a breakthrough new study explains how a combination of bioluminescence and isothermal amplification technology allows analysts to amplify DNA strands at a constant temperature, and generate real-time readouts of GM contamination levels in food and food crops. And the best part is that mobile devices equipped with the technology can essentially perform these scans and analyses on the fly.

The company's bioluminescent real time reporter (BART) component utilizes luciferase, the same enzyme in fireflies that allows them to light up. This system, which won Lumora an award from the U.K. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), produces light at variant levels in the presence of DNR or RNA sequences that contain GM contamination, and it does this in combination with a system known as loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP).

"This method requires only basic equipment for DNA extraction and a constant temperature for DNA amplification and detection," said Dr. Guy Kiddle, lead author of the study, about the technology. "Consequently LAMP-BART provides a 'field-ready' solution for monitoring GM crops and their interaction with wild plants or non-GM crops."

What this all means for the general public is that, should mandatory GM labeling laws eventually be passed in your state or, in a best-case scenario nationwide, scanning food and crops for GM contaminants will be simple and and highly-effective. The technology will also allow farmers to detect the presence of GM contamination in their fields, which could make it a lot easier for farmers to sue Monsanto and other GMO giants for trespassing.

"(LAMP-BART is) an effective and sensitive technique for GM detection with significant potential for quantification even at low levels of contamination and in samples derived from crops such as maize with a large genome size," added the researchers.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to move forward in California (, Washington State (, Vermont (, and a number of other states to require mandatory labeling of all GMOs and products that contain traces of GMOs. And nationally, the Just Label It campaign is pushing for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to mandate the labeling of GMOs (

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