Global Low-Level Presence Initiative Global Low-Level Presence Initiative

Low Level Presence Factsheet

Low Level Presence: A barrier to international trade (PDF, 283KB)

This document explains how Low Level Presence (LLP) presents a barrier to international trade.

What is Low Level Presence?

LLP is when a food or feed grain shipment contains a small amount of genetically modified (GM) grain that has been approved in at least one country but not yet in the importing country. Countries approve GM grain by following international guidelines.

How does Low Level Presence Happen?

GM crops undergo thorough safety assessments before entering the marketplace. LLP situations can occur when there is a time difference in approvals being granted between exporting and importing countries, or when developers did not seek authorizations in importing countries.

The likelihood of LLP increases as more GM crops are developed and traded around the globe. The global grain system depends on bulk handling to consistently deliver affordable commodities; despite best industry practices, the system cannot completely prevent the occurrence of LLP.

Low Level Presence is a Matter of Compliance and Management

Impacts of Inflexible Import Policies for Low Level Presence

Inflexible import policies for LLP may lead to unnecessary trade disruptions, as shipments containing LLP may be blocked or rejected by the importing country. When the global trade of agricultural commodities is disrupted, this can reduce access to innovation and lead to higher food production costs as well as a less reliable supply of commodities.

Importing market

  • Lack of predictable supply for those that are reliant on imports
  • Market unpredictability due to disruption in supply
  • Increased government compliance verification resources dedicated to a low-risk situation
  • Potential food security issues due to decrease in availability of food
  • Costs of diverting shipments
  • Disposal of unsellable product
  • Increased cost of doing business
  • Cost of finding alternative supply
  • Deterrent to innovation due to negative association and trade risk

Exporting market

  • Deterrent to innovation due to risk of trade disruptions
  • Costs of assisting industry, such as diverting exports
  • Market losses and decreased trade
  • Costs of finding alternative markets
  • Less willingness to invest in innovation due to costs and complexity of authorizations
  • Limited access to new crop varieties that can produce more with fewer resources
  • Unpredictability caused by higher trade risks
  • Reputation and public trust negatively impacted


Managing Low Level Presence in Food and Feed Imports

11 Notification Notification

Officials become aware of the presence of unapproved product in an import

Is it Low Level Presence?

GM plant approved for food use in at least one country in accordance with Codex Plant Guidelines

Yes: Regulatory authority informs importer of the situation

No: LLP management does not apply

22 Due Diligence Due Diligence

Confirm safety of LLP product (options)

Recognize full safety assessment of another country

A pro-active LLP safety assessment was already conducted

Conduct an LLP safety assessment

Regulatory authority gathers data:

  • GM Food Platform
  • Developer
  • Regulatory authority of the exporting country

33 Compliance, Enforcement and Management Options Compliance, Enforcement and Management Options

No enforcement action

Threshold Approach

  • Under threshold level: no enforcement action
  • Above threshold level: Determine most appropriate measures and enforcement actions to achieve compliance over time

Determine most appropriate measures and enforcement actions to achieve compliance over time

Complete full safety assessment and approve LLP product in timely manner

  • Stewardship, coupled with transparent, timely and practical LLP management leads to fewer trade disruptions
  • The most effective way to prevent LLP is to avoid time delays between country approvals for GM products

For more information on Low Level Presence (LLP), please email

More information is found on the website

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