GM crop database launched to ensure safety of EU animal feed supply

September 15, 2015, CORDIS
GM crop database launched to ensure safety of EU animal feed supply

The IPAFEED database – a key deliverable of the EU-funded MARLON project – contains searchable data for monitoring possible impacts of genetically modified (GM) crops on the health of livestock animals. Through providing guidance and the means to closely monitor GM feed-related risks in livestock, the project seeks to help regulators and the food supply chain ensure that any such health risks can be identified early and effectively.

Food safety has become a critical issue for both industry and policy makers. High profile food scares over the last few decades – from the outbreak of 'Mad Cow Disease' in the 1990s to the horsemeat in beef products scandal a couple of years ago – have shaken consumer confidence in the safety of food products.

This has cost businesses billions in lost earnings and prompted calls for ever tighter traceability and more transparent labelling of products. A few anecdotal accounts on possible impacts of GM crop consumption on domestic animals have appeared in the media, but have not been confirmed.

In order to ensure transparency, the MARLON project focused on bringing knowledge on GM crops in together in one place. In setting up the IPAFEED database, data was extracted from scientific papers with detailed descriptions of each study, accessible results and links to sources. This database was continuously updated throughout the duration of the three-year project, which was completed in July 2015.

In addition, 11 project partners from eight countries carried out surveys in their respective nations. Researchers also collated information on, for example, measurable animal health indicators and how best to analyse exposure. Tools and guidelines to help monitor the long-term health of animals exposed to feed derived from GM crops have also been developed.

The positive news for both regulators and European agriculture is that data collected from controlled short-term, long-term and multi-generational feeding trials have generally pointed to no on animals fed GM ingredients. Some effects may even be positive: several reports indicate, for example, that insect-resistant GM crops may contain lower levels of toxic chemicals produced by fungi that can colonise insect-damaged crops.

GM crops grown outside of Europe are often destined for several EU markets where they may be processed into animal feed. The EU approves of using GM-derived ingredients if each crop passes vigorous safety assessments, and regulators may still require post-market monitoring as a means of verifying pre-market assumptions.

While this requirement has not yet been imposed on GM animal feed, the MARLON consortium determined that European agriculture should stay ahead of the curve by having the means to closely monitor the GM content of feed at their fingertips. This will also ensure that regulators will have the necessary tools at hand should post-market monitoring become a legal requirement.

Explore further: Scotland to ban GM crops

More information: For further information, please visit the MARLON project website:

Related Stories

Scotland to ban GM crops

August 9, 2015

Scotland is set to ban the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops, officials announced Sunday.

'EU reaches compromise deal on GM crops'

May 28, 2014

After years of fractious talks, EU states have finally reached a compromise to allow cultivation of genetically modified (GM) food crops by giving their opponents an opt out, official sources said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

Revealing the rules behind virus scaffold construction

March 19, 2019

A team of researchers including Northwestern Engineering faculty has expanded the understanding of how virus shells self-assemble, an important step toward developing techniques that use viruses as vehicles to deliver targeted ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.