Exposure of livestock to GM feeds: Detectability and measurement

Anna Nadal*, Marzia De Giacomo, Ralf Einspanier, Gijs Kleter, Esther Kok, Sarah McFarland, Roberta Onori, Alain Paris, Mònica Toldrà, Jeroen van Dijk, Jean Michel Wal, Maria Pla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This review explores the possibilities to determine livestock consumption of genetically modified (GM) feeds/ingredients including detection of genetically modified organism (GMO)-related DNA or proteins in animal samples, and the documentary system that is in place for GM feeds under EU legislation. The presence and level of GMO-related DNA and proteins can generally be readily measured in feeds, using established analytical methods such as polymerase chain reaction and immuno-assays, respectively. Various technical challenges remain, such as the simultaneous detection of multiple GMOs and the identification of unauthorized GMOs for which incomplete data on the inserted DNA may exist. Given that transfer of specific GMO-related DNA or protein from consumed feed to the animal had seldom been observed, this cannot serve as an indicator of the individual animal's prior exposure to GM feeds. To explore whether common practices, information exchange and the specific GM feed traceability system in the EU would allow to record GM feed consumption, the dairy chain in Catalonia, where GM maize is widely grown, was taken as an example. It was thus found that this system would neither enable determination of an animal's consumption of specific GM crops, nor would it allow for quantitation of the exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-35
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Early online date25 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Animal tissue
  • DNA and protein transfer
  • Exposure assessment
  • Genetically modified organism (GMO)
  • Livestock
  • Traceability


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