GMO free products are no longer considered a niche market in Europe. In Germany, almost 80% of the milk is non-GMO and it is expected that more countries and products will follow this route. Accurate GMO testing is essential to meet market demands and support label claims.
As European consumers become more aware of where their food comes from and how it is made, the interest in sustainable, healthy, and animal-friendly labels grows. And although GMOs are allowed in the EU to be used in animal feed, we see a trend in products that are produced without GMOs. In Germany for example, the share of non-GMO milk has already reached almost 80% (78.4%).
Farmers who produce GMO-free milk, eggs, or meat for certain markets, or according to specific requirements from buyers such as dairy processor Arla or German retailers Lidl and Aldi, must comply to certain non-GMO requirements. Only then the end products can be labelled as non-GMO. Non-GMO labelling is allowed in many European countries (including Germany, Austria, France, Slovenia, and Switzerland), while others still prohibit this type of labelling. At the same time, there are also efforts to introduce a uniform and harmonised EU-wide non-GMO labelling system.
Non-GMO products must come from animals that were raised with non-GMO feed. To guarantee this, the farm and feed producer must comply with non-GMO standards, including regular testing of the feed materials. Over the years, the number of certification (and associated labels) across Europe has increased. Austria was the first country in Europe to facilitate non-GMO production (1997), followed by Germany (2010) with the well-known VLOG (‘Verband Lebensmittel Ohne Gentechnik’) standards and associated label. The Slovenian IKC Inštitut za kontrolo in certifikacijo UM registered and implemented a private non-GMO certification in Slovenia in 2011. In total, 10 European countries currently allow non-GMO labelling.
FoodChain ID: partner for feed companies
GMO analysis of feed is needed to comply to the certification scheme used, but also to mitigate and prevent cross-over in feed mills. FoodChain ID offers a full range of accredited qualitative and quantitative testing methods for all commercialized GMO crops. In addition, an international network of ISO-17025 accredited testing labs enables FoodChain ID to detect, identify and quantify GMOs according to the customer needs and location.
Konstantin Rizos, Technical Director Testing at FoodChain ID explains: “We carry out a customer specific GMO testing strategy and are able to test for stacked GMO (multiple genetic modifications, or traits, in a single variety of a crop). We design a tailored testing protocol and follow the samples from start to finish. An important part is to connect with our customers and explain the results in an easy-to-understand manner. Our goal is to unburden our clients with the rules and paperwork that come with GMO compliance.”
Growing market share in feed
With a strong background in the food industry and offices and labs in the Benelux, France, and Germany, FoodChain ID is growing its presence and visibility as a trusted partner for feed companies in Europe. This has been propelled by the acquisition of Promag in 2022. With more than 35 years of experience, Promag (now part of the FoodChain ID Certification division) has become a key player in the animal nutrition and farming sector in Belgium and France. “This allows us to spread our know-how around GMO compliance to more European feed companies and hence help them to meet today’s consumer and feed challenges”, Rizos concludes.