A tender for a national laboratory for genetically modified organisms (GMO) testing of food and feed has been issued by the Department of Agriculture.

According to the tender, published today, under Regulation 882/2004, all EU member states are required to have in place a National Reference Laboratory for GMO testing of food and feed. In the period 2013-2015 Ireland will outsource the role of this lab for GMO, it stated.

Deadline for submissions is 20 September and the tender can be found here.

GMOs are organisms, such as plants, animals and microorganisms whose genetic characteristics have been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination food and feed which contain or consist of such GMOs, or are produced from GMOs, are called genetically modified (GM) food or feed.

EU legislation on GMOs has been in place since the early 1990s and aims to ensure that GMOs and GMO-derived products that are produced or marketed within the EU meet the highest safety standards whilst ensuring harmonised regulation thereby ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market.

According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government along with the Environmental Protection agency (EPA) are responsible for the environmental aspects of GM technology including contained use, crop trials and the placing on the market of GM crops for general cultivation purposes.

In addition, the seed certification division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) works with the EPA in respect of GM seed regulation, while the animal feed section of DAFM regulates GM feed.

Meanwhile, it was announced this afternoon that Slow Food chair Darina Allen and Teagasc’s Dr Ewen Mullins, the head of Ireland’s first GM research trial are to debate the research at the Grow It Yourself Gathering this September. Last year, the EPA gave Teagasc permission to start a three-year field-based research study of a GM potato at its facility in Oak Park, Co Carlow.