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New detection methods on products derived from new genomic techniques for traceability, transparency and innovation in the food system
Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 2: Fair, Healthy and Environmentally-friendly Food Systems from Primary Production to Consumption
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
Proposals are expected to contribute to the development and validation of detection methods of products obtained through new genomic techniques.
- Examine innovative ways and/or specific markers that would allow for distinction between products resulting from new genomic techniques subject to the GMO legislation and products that are not subject to the GMO legislation. This should not only entail the detection of specific mutations, but also of other markers in the genome that are specific for the genotype containing the mutation/s. The methods should be able to distinguish between identical mutations obtained through different techniques;
- Development and validation of reliable detection methods including when possible quantification. Such methods could focus on products with known mutations (i.e. DNA sequence known) or on products with unknown mutations;
- The proposed detection methods should focus on a wide applicability of all or a subgroup of products, allowing for a screening approach. These methods should be assessed on pure products as well as on mixtures typical of food or feed products in the market. Proposals should always include plant-based products and may include also animal and/or microorganisms-based products.
- The proposal could also focus on the detection of unintended mutations or insertions (foreign DNA, CRISPR-Cas sequences, etc);
- The proposals could also include digital/virtual/AI modelling aspects along with the detection methods alternatives;
- The development and validation of standardized methodologies and the contribution to future standardisation processes is encouraged.
Proposals are encouraged to cooperate with actors such as the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality, which provides expertise in food science, authenticity and quality of food supplied in the EU. Proposals could also foresee the involvement of the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL).
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 4-5 by the end of the project. Proposals should define clearly the TRL starting point for each involved technology and the plan to reach more advanced TRL.
Applicants should seek synergies and capitalise on the results of past and ongoing research projects (including projects under the same topic) in the areas of food and feed chain traceability and new genomic techniques. Therefore proposals should include a dedicated task, appropriate resources and a plan on how they will collaborate with other projects funded under e.g. the topic HORIZON-CL6-2021-ZEROPOLLUTION-01-08. In order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is encouraged.
Expected effects and impacts
The successful proposal will be in line with the European Green Deal priorities and the farm to fork strategy for a fair healthy and environmentally friendly food system, as well as with the EU's climate ambition for 2030 and 2050. The farm to fork strategy aims to accelerate the transition to sustainable farming and food systems. It recognises the role that new innovative techniques may play in increasing sustainability, provided they are safe for consumers and the environment while bringing benefits for society as a whole. In addition, one of the strategy´s main priorities is to ensure traceability and authenticity, and to enhance transparency. In this context, the successful proposals should contribute to ensuring traceability and authenticity, enhancing transparency and promoting innovation in the area of new genomic techniques.
Although existing detection methods may be able to detect even small alterations in the genome, this is sometimes not sufficient to confirm the presence of a genetically modified organism/product (GMO) regulated under Directive 2001/18/CE or Regulation 1829/2003, as the same alteration(s) could have been obtained by conventional breeding, which is not subject to the GMO legislation.
The existing approaches for the detection of GMOs cannot be applied in all cases. Various products obtained with new genomic techniques, as defined by European Commission, Joint Research Centre 2021, do not contain targets (e.g., promoters/terminators for screening purposes or event-specific sequences) on which GMO detection is largely based.
The challenge to identify certain genetically modified products is not always related to the available methodologies, but rather to the difficulty to differentiate against non-regulated products.
Some of the above mentioned challenges have been identified by recent literature and the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL) report of 26 March 2019 (JRC116289) which, referring to gene editing derived plant products, concluded that validation of an event-specific detection method and its implementation for market control will be feasible only for products carrying a known DNA alteration that has been shown to be unique.(i.e. the alteration should be specific for the gene edited organism/product). The same consideration might apply for cisgenesis applications combined with gene editing. Under the current circumstances, market control will fail to detect unknown genome-edited plant products. The report notes that several issues regarding the detection, identification and quantification of genome-edited products will require further consideration, as its findings are currently based on theoretical assessments.
- Reliable detection methods to address the challenges described;
- Development and validation of detection tools for enforcement authorities as well as for developers and agri-food operators;
- Empower enforcement authorities, developers and agri-food operators for the authenticity and traceability of products obtained through new genomic techniques;
- Enable informed consumer choices by enhancing transparency and traceability across the food chain;
- Enable innovation in the food system linked to new genomic techniques.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
EU Body, Education and training institution, International organization, Natural Person, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) may participate as member of the consortium selected for funding.
other eligibility criteria
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 4-5 by the end of the project.
For the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), the following definitions apply:
- TRL 1 — Basic principles observed
- TRL 2 — Technology concept formulated
- TRL 3 — Experimental proof of concept
- TRL 4 — Technology validated in a lab
- TRL 5 — Technology validated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 6 — Technology demonstrated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 7 — System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- TRL 8 — System complete and qualified
- TRL 9 — Actual system proven in an operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies, or in space)
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.