Food safety and quality

Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) and food safety

Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), as also known as Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), is one of the new laboratory tools that reveals the complete DNA make-up of an organism. The simplicity, precision, speed and flexibility of WGS provide advantages over the multiple traditional methodologies combined.

With the rapidly declining cost of this technology, WGS applications in food safety management, food safety regulatory activities, including the opportunities it provides for enhanced integration of information from other sectors, such as human and animal health, could contribute to enhanced consumer protection, trade facilitation, and food/nutrition security.

FAO’s Work on WGS and Food Safety

It is FAO's role to keep all Members informed on the latest scientific developments in the food and agriculture sectors, and provide technical assistance to those who need it. FAO in collaboration with the World Health Organizations (WHO) has published several technical papers and convened meetings and international conferences on WGS, on the applications and the impact of WGS on food safety management. It also supports non-profit technical initiatives working on WGS and food safety, such as Global Microbial Identifier and PulseNet International and facilitate an informal network of developing countries to share information, knowledge and experience in using WGS for food safety management. Other FAO activities on WGS and food safety are documented below.