Belgian National Reference Laboratory for Genetically Modified Organisms under Regulation (EU) 2017/625

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The Belgian "National Reference Laboratory for Genetically Modified Organisms" (NRL-GMO) has been established in the frame of Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 on GM Food and Feed and Regulation (EC) 1830/2003 on labelling and traceability of GMO.

These EU Regulations implement or refer to a European Union Reference Laboratory for GM Food and Feed (EURL-GMFF) in charge of various tasks related to GMO analyses. The EURL GMFF is assisted  by Member states National Reference Laboratories (NRL) and official laboratories gathered in the consortium of the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL).


Dr Nina Papazova
Coordinator NRL-GMO
Service “Transversal activities in Applied Genomics” (TAG)
Rue J. Wytsmanstraat 14, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium


The Belgian NRL-GMO is established as a consortium of three equivalent partners.

A Federal Laboratory

  • Sciensano – Service “Transversal activities in Applied Genomics” (TAG) Coordination and secretariat of the NRL-GMO)

Two Regional Laboratories

  • Instituut voor Landbouw- en Visserijonderzoek (ILVO) – Eenheid Technologie en Voeding Voeding – Productkwaliteit en -innovatie
  • Centre wallon de Recherches agronomiques (CRA-W) – Département Qualité des productions agricoles

The three laboratories are members of the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL).


NRL-GMO has policy-supporting, advisory and coordinating tasks.


  • To stay informed and keep the highest possible standards of technical skill, to maintain scientific awareness and quality management under accreditation and to actively contribute to the development of new methods of analysis and improvement of existing ones for existing and new GMOs, including the design of new standards for analytical calibration or for the reduction of biological and technical uncertainties.
  • To participate to international inter-laboratory trials to demonstrate the technical proficiency.
  • To organize ring trials at the national level for routine laboratories with the aim to sustain the harmonized practice of routine testing in Belgian laboratories.
  • To test a minimum number of routine samples with accredited assays or in the accreditation process to practically keep the gained experience and for this analysis task fulfil the deadlines fixed by the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FAVV-AFSCA) for the reports.
  • To take care of the transmission of documentation or information to the routine laboratories for example by organizing workshops or training sessions for routine laboratories about new methods of analysis or the improvements of existing ones. This can be done on the NRL or the FAVV-AFSCA initiative, when there is a need to do so.
  • To sustain the quality of routine laboratories by supplying a technical support and knowledge dissemination (for example via a web site).
  • To keep informed the collaborators of the FAVV-AFSCA concerning the interpretation of the results of analysis.
  • To maintain contacts with the ENGL and to transfer the related information to the FAVV-AFSCA and to the routine laboratories.
  • To accompany and to sustain study projects, even if they are not granted to the NRL or to one of the laboratories of its consortium.
  • To actively participate to the technical and scientific support of the FAVV-AFSCA in the context of incidents or crises.
  • To report to FAVV-AFSCA about NRL activities on a sixth month basis.

Legal Framework

Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 came into force on April 18th, 2004 and establishes a framework for the authorization of genetically modified (GM) food and feed on the EU market. This Regulation is laying out a sector-based vertical outline to the scope of part C of Directive 2001/18/EC in the case of GMOs used as or in products for food and feed and extends such a scope to food and feed not containing GMOs anymore but produced from GMOs.
In parallel it is connected to Regulation (EC) 1830/2003 establishing an administrative traceability system of the placing of GM food/feed on the EU market and amending the said directive for what concerns the labelling of GMOs.
It further complements article 21 of Directive 2001/18/EC by establishing thresholds of adventitious traces of GMOs.
The annex of Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 establishes a CRL under the aegis of the Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) in Ispra, EURL assisted by the consortium of ENGL gathering NRL from Member States. For the purpose of implementing Regulation (EC) 1829/2003, the EURL will validate the methods of detection submitted by operators, receive control samples and distribute them to the Member States, organize interlaboratory collaborative trials like validation tests, and be used as a reference in solving disputes. The EURL is notably assisted by the Belgian NRL.

Steering Committee

The Steering committee meets two times per year and manages the execution of the contract: in this way, it determines the new activities and priorities for an initially established list of activities.

The Steering committee is composed of representatives of NRL and FASFC.

Useful Links


European legislation

  • Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of GMO
  • Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed
  • Regulation (EC) 1830/2003 concerning the traceability and labelling of GMO and the traceability of food and feed products produced from GMO
  • Regulation (EC) 882/2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules
  • Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council

Belgian legislation

  • Royal decree of 3 August 2012 on the approval of Laboratories performing analyses in relation to the safety of the food chain
  • Royal decree of 25 July 2014 modifying the royal decree of 3 August 2012 on the approval of laboratories performing analyses in relation to the safety of the food chain
  • Royal decree of 29 June 2015 modifying the royal decree of 3 August 2012 on the approval of laboratories performing analyses in relation to the safety of the food chain