GMO test strips can show that agriculturally important plants are often genetically modified by the insertion of DNA material from outside the organism into the plant's DNA sequence, allowing the plant to express novel traits that normally would not appear in nature, such as herbicide or insect resistance.
Seed which have been harvested from GMO plants will also contain the modification. Current GMO production relates mainly to four crops: soybeans, corn, cotton and oilseed rape. GMO crop plantings accounted for 26% of the global area planted in 2004. The figures are 51%, 12%, 24% and 15% respectively for soybeans, corn, cotton and oilseed rape. GMO test strips are able to detect this.
Global trade of these crops and its main derivatives is largely made up of GMO origin material. 90% of soybean trade, 80% of maize trade, 70% of oilseed rape trade and 45% of cotton seed trade - incl. of co-mingled GMO and non-GMO material.
However, whilst most soybeans and its main derivatives used in the European Union are coming from imports, the big majority of maize, oilseed rape and cotton seed used is derived from domestic (largely non-GMO) production.