[Translate to english:] GVO-Analytik

GMO - Genetically Modified Organisms

Detection of genetically engineered modifications in plants and foodstuffs

The labelling requirements for genetically modified organisms (GMO) are regulated in the Ordinance of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI) from the 23rd  November 2005 on Genetically Modified Foodstuffs (VGVL).

It should be noted that the proportion of GMO is increasing worldwide. Soya and maize products with GMOs and their exact analyses are therefore important for the foodstuff and fodder producing industries.

As an ISO 17025 certified contract laboratory in Switzerland, we will test your products for you for GMO content and for specific GMOs in accordance with accredited methods.

Quick, competent, reliable.

Do you require the results particularly urgently?

Then our Quick Test is right for you. In certain cases, these are also possible as a Super Express test within a very short period of time. 

Can we help you?
We’d be pleased to advise you.

Your contact person
Head of Order Management Food & Feed Services

Sascha Theobald

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What are GMOs?

Genetically modified organisms are organisms that have been modified by targeted alteration of their own genes or the integration of foreign genomes using genetic engineering methods. This does not include traditional methods of breeding, such as for example crossing or naturally occurring mutations.

Distinctions are made, according to affiliation, for green (plants), red (vertebrates) and white (micro-organisms) genetic engineering.

Particular importance is placed on the area of green genetic engineering as agriculture all over the world has benefited from the advantages of genetically engineered plants. This can be seen in the continually increasing proportion of GMOs being grown on agricultural land.

Analysis of GMOs using PCR
Analysis of GMOs using PCR

Important legal regulations (importation and declaration) in Switzerland

Declaration is not necessary when the detected GMO-contents are from unintended contaminations with a content of < 0.9 % and are of a permitted variety. Otherwise, the product description must be marked accordingly with the phrase “Genetically modified”. Varieties that have not yet been authorised, but have been tested by the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health may be contained at a detectable level of 0.5 % per ingredient (valid only for the 3 varieties of maize listed in the list of tolerated materials (appendix 2 of the Ordinance over Genetically Modified Foodstuffs, VGVL)) for the goods to still be valid as marketable. Products which contain non-approved GMOs or GMOs that are not contained in the list of the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health of tolerated GMOs are considered not marketable.

The most important GMOs from the area of plants

The propagation of GMO crop plants such as soya, maize and rape is at its highest level ever and is growing continually. Further genetically modified organisms such as cotton, rice and linseed are also on the rise. The range is complemented by crops such as potatoes, tomatoes, sugar beets and papaya.

What can be investigated?

Finding evidence of genetically modified components is technically possible in nearly all products. Even in highly processed end products, detection can be achieved by using highly-sensitive analysis techniques. The only requirement is: It must be possible to extract the amplifiable DNA.

Examples of analysable samples:

  • Fodder: e.g. maize, soybean meal, rapeseed oilcake and all varieties and forms of processing, rice
  • Flour /starch products
  • Seeds
  • Tobacco
  • Various end products such as cornflakes or muesli bars
  • Beverages (e.g. soy drinks)
  • Grilled meat (marinade)
  • Pastries
  • Baby foods
  • Dietary supplements
  • Vegetable oils
Sample preparation for typical materials: Maize, rapeseed, wheat meal...
Sample preparation for typical materials: Maize, rapeseed, wheat meal...

DNA analysis using real-time PCR: The principle of measurement

In the real-time PCR analysis, defined and known sections of the hereditary substance will be reproduced and made visible by using a cascade like chain reaction system. The presence and quantity of formed DNA fragments can give the ultimate information about the composition of the sample, and also about any GMO varieties that are present and their proportion in the product.

Preparation for the PCR investigation
Preparation for the PCR investigation

Qualitative, unspecific screening

Defined marker sequences are often used in genetic engineering to insert a foreign genome into the genome of the target plant. Detection of these sections can also indicate the presence of a genetic modification, without being able to make a specific statement about exactly what kind of alteration it is.

Specific detection

To determine the exact varieties, an “event-specific” analysis must be performed, i.e. searches must be made for the integrated and specific genotype.

Quantitative detection

When comparing the results obtained with the certified Standards (GMO-content of a known concentration), a quantitative result can be defined. As a result, it can be determined whether the present goods have to be rejected or if they can be considered marketable (in relation to GMOs).

Why are GMOs often also detected in GMO-free products?

GMO analysis is a highly-sensitive analysis technique. Even traces of GMOs can be reliably detected.

Because of the often long transportation routes and the “moving” that goes along with it - primarily in the contaminated cargo holds of ocean-going ships and inland waterway barges, but also in railway carriages and lorries - it can often result in positive findings. This is why GMO soya is continually being found in oats or maize.

The increasing cultivation of GMOs is another reason for the increasing danger of “GMO-free” fields nearby being contaminated.

In order to make meaningful and significant statements regarding a batch, particular attention should be paid to taking a representative pattern of samples when sampling.


Our services in detail:

  • Consultation on GMO analyses
  • Determination of the GMO content (soya, maize, rapeseed)
  • Specific GMO detection 
    (e.g. soya: roundup ready, RR-soja 2- Yield; 8 varieties of maize; rapeseed: GT 73)
  • Additional services are according to the directory of services or upon request.
Analysis equipment for GMO determination
Analysis equipment for GMO determination

Infrastructure and Methods

All instrumental resources at a glance. Large selection of instruments and technology from UFAG Laboratories


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Do you have any questions regarding the testing of your products?

We will be happy to advise you!