The OECD BioTrack Product Database includes a Unique Identifier, which is used as a "key" to access information on products derived from the use of modern biotechnology.
INTRODUCTION TO THE UNIQUE IDENTIFIER FOR TRANSGENIC PLANTS
A unique identifier is a nine-digit code given to each transgenic (or genetically engineered) plant that is approved for commercial use, including planting and food/feed use. The unique identifier is a practical "key" to access information in the OECD's BioTrack product Database, as well as other systems (such as the CBD Biosafety Clearing House and FAO GM Food Platform) and other databases. The BioTrack database is updated regularly using information provided by authorities from OECD member countries as well as a number of non-members.
With the increase in the commercialisation of plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology, OECD's Working Group on Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology (WG-HROB) recognized the importance of standardising the way in which such plant products are identified. The first version of the guidance was published in 2002. Each applicant has their own internal mechanism to avoid applying the same designation of the “transformation event” to different products. Incorporating the information into the unique identifier enables applicants to differentiate their own product, while at the same time ensuring its uniqueness from those generated by other applicants. It also provides authorities in OECD member countries and non-member countries with a universally understood descriptor of those products, noting that the same product may have different trade names in different countries. It avoids ambiguity.
With the recent increase of plant products having one or more traits obtained by conventional crosses, so-called “stacked events”, the WG-HROB initiated a discussion on how to address those products, and revised the document in 2006. A unique identifier for a stacked event consists of the unique identifiers from each parental transgenic plant, e.g. A x B.
Developers of a new transgenic plant can generate an identifier and include it in the information package that they forward to national authorities during the risk/safety assessment process. Once approved, national authorities can then forward the unique identifier to the OECD Secretariat for inclusion in the OECD product database.
The unique identifier is applied in other international fora. In January 2004, the EU adopted the OECD guidance as its system for generating unique identifiers. This is described in the Commission Regulation (EC) No. 65/2004, "establishing a system for the development and assignment of unique identifiers for genetically modified organisms". It has also been recognised as a mechanism for unique identification to be used within the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. This decision was taken at the "First meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP/MOP1)" in February 2004.
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