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Reference material producers set up global consortium


Metrology institutes from the USA, South Korea, Canada, Australia, China, South Africa, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom have set up a global consortium with the Joint Research Centre's Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM).

Representatives from the various institutes producing chemical reference materials met at JRC-IRMM premises (Geel, Belgium) on 2 and 3 September and agreed to forge a network for exchanging early-stage information on their development programmes. Participants also laid the groundwork for further scientific and technological cooperation.

The meeting was organised by JRC-IRMM and was the first such global encounter. Representatives, who are responsible for programmes on the development and production of complex chemical and biological reference materials, discussed common challenges in the field.

The surging demand for more accurate measurements, particularly in emerging fields such as biotechnology and personalised medicine, means that no country or region is capable of providing the whole range of measurement standards and technological developments required.

Reference materials are measurement standards with a precisely-known property, such as the amount of genetically modified maize or the levels of bacteria in a food sample. They provide a benchmark for analytical laboratories around the world to deliver reliable and traceable results, and they play a fundamental role in the areas of trade, healthcare, environmental protection and food safety.

There are well over 11 000 certified reference materials available worldwide for diverse applications relating to industrial or environmental measurements, quality of life, biological and clinical uses. The JRC-IRMM, which can be considered the metrology institute of the European Commission, is one of the leading producers of certified reference materials in the world, particularly in the clinical, food and GMO application areas.

During the meeting, the reference material producers agreed that the consortium will establish an information network to update each other at an early stage of their development programmes for reference materials, engage in scientific and technological cooperation on specific challenges and take a common and pro-active approach towards international bodies in the areas of metrology and standardisation.

Source: Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM)