GM Potato Testing

PCAN offers testing services (Figure 1 and Figure 2) to identify genetically modified (GM) potatoes in seed sources. These tests are not required under the Rules and Regulations of PCAN. They do, however, help to ensure seed purity, because the unintentional mixing of GM and non-GM seed is considered a serious threat to the integrity of both the international and domestic potato industries.

There are several methods used to identify the presence of GM potatoes in non-GM potatoes sources. These include the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and the Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test. GM potatoes can be identified using PCR through the purification and multiplication of billions of strands of DNA from a single strand. This is done through a series of heating and cooling cycles.

RNA is the target protein detected with an ELISA test.  This method is more commonly used than PCR.  There are several reasons for this, including:

  • More samples can be analyzed simultaneously than with PCR
  • A greater amount of GM proteins can be identified than with PCR
  • Less costly than PCR

For this reason, PCAN uses the ELISA method. More information regarding GM testing can be found here.

Figure 1. Seed being prepared for GM testing

Figure 2. Seed being prepared for GM testing