Analytical methods based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology are increasingly used for the detection of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequences associated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the European Union and Switzerland, mandatory labeling of novel foods and food ingredients consisting of, or containing GMOs is required according to food regulations and is triggered by the presence of newly introduced foreign DNA sequences, or newly expressed proteins. In order to meet regulatory and consumer demand, numerous PCR-based methods have been developed which can detect, identify and quantify GMOs in agricultural crops, food and feed. Moreover, the determination of genetic identity allows for segregation and traceability (identity preservation) throughout the supply chain of GM crops that have been enhanced with value-added quality traits. Prerequisites for GMO detection include a minimum amount of the target gene and prior knowledge of the type of genetic modification, such as virus or insect resistance traits, including controlling elements (promoters and terminators). Moreover, DNA extraction and purification is a critical step for the preparation of PCR-quality samples, particularly for processed agricultural crops such as tobacco. This paper reviews the state-of-the-art of PCR-based method development for the qualitative and quantitative determination and identification of GMOs, and includes a short summary of official and validated GMO detection methods.
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