New JRC technique to be used for DNA gender tests on beef for export

July 3, 2002

Brussels, 02 July 2002

A new technique developed by the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) is to be used to carry out DNA-based gender tests on beef in an attempt to combat fraudulent claims for export refunds.

The beef trade receives several million euros of EU export refunds, and the sums granted for the export of beef from male cattle are substantially higher than for meat from female animals. The reason for this is that cows are generally used for milk production, and their meat is therefore considered to be a by-product, whereas the rearing of bulls is a specific farming activity. Ensuring a proper declaration of gender of the beef at the point of export is therefore essential.

The JRC technique is being used following the introduction of new EU legislation, on 1 July. The polymerase chain reaction technique with subsequent gel electrophoresis will be used to provide rapid and accurate sexing of meat.

'This method will be a powerful weapon in our fight against fraudulent claims for EU subsides,' said EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. 'By pooling together expertise at EU level, cutting-edge EU research helps develop new legislative tools to protect consumers, honest entrepreneurs and the European taxpayer.'

The method was chosen following an analysis of current practice and other available methods. Some 430 samples were distributed to eight customs laboratories and a feasibility study was carried out. The results showed that the selected method exhibited the required reliability for routine use.

For further information on the JRC's Institute for reference materials and measurements, please consult the following web address:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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