National Reference Laboratories (NRLs)
In the GMO area there are two types of legally defined NRLs, (1) those for official control under Regulation (EU) 2017/625 and (2) those for assisting the EURL GMFF in the validation of methods of analysis, listed in Regulation (EU) No 120/2014.
NRLs for official control
They are appointed by the relevant Competent Authority from each EU Member State to collaborate with the EURL GMFF with a view of harmonising and improving the methods of laboratory analysis and their use for enforcement of the GMO legislation for food and feed products (Regulation (EU) 2017/625).
Each EU Member State has to appoint at least one NRL for each EURL and may additionally appoint official laboratories to perform the control tasks. The NRL coordinates the work of the official laboratories in the Member State. NRLs and official laboratories are generally also members of the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL).
The NRLs receive up-to-date details and guidance on the methods of GMO analysis from the EURL GMFF and have to participate in training courses and in the proficiency testing scheme operated by the EURL GMFF.
The NRL control network is currently composed of 38 NRLs and approximately 80 official laboratories.
NRLs assisting the EURL for testing and validation of methods for detection
They are also designated by the Competent Authorities of each Member State. This list is annexed to Regulation (EU) No 120/2014 and includes most NRLs for official control designated under Reg. 625 and a number of official laboratories. The NRL method validation network is currently composed (post-Brexit) of 57 active NRLs.
For the validation of a method in an inter-laboratory ring trial, the EURL GMFF randomly selects from this list 12 NRLs that have expressed an interest in participating. These NRLs perform analytical measurements on blind samples provided by the EURL GMFF using the method to be validated and submit the results to the EURL GMFF. The combined results from all 12 NRLs are used to assess the method performance and its fitness for the purpose. The outcome is presented in a validation report published on the EURL GMFF website and provided to EFSA.