As food science continues to advance, so do calls to label and ban foods that have been modified using modern techniques.
In GMOs, the genes of some plants used for food are tweaked to make them more healthful (Golden Rice) or pest-resistant (lots of others). By the end of 2012, farmers were growing GM crops on more than 420 million acres of land across 28 countries without any environmental or health issues but a well-funded campaign against these modifications has made some consumers leery of it. It was only a matter of time before someone created a comprehensive test for people concerned about GMOs and a group writing in Analytical Chemistry say they have done just that.
Li-Tao Yang, Sheng-Ce Tao and colleagues are catering primarily to Europe, where fears about GMOs, energy and cell phones are common, and scientists can be jailed if they don't predict an earthquake. There are many ways to detect genetic modification in crops but no single test existed to do a comprehensive scan, which is where Yang and Tao come in.
They developed a test they call "MACRO," which stands for: multiplex amplification on a chip with readout on an oligo microarray.
It combines two well-known genetic methods to flag about 97 percent of the known commercialized modifications, almost twice as many as other tests.
They say it also can be easily expanded to include future genetically modified crops.