From Bio Journal - November 2001
Towards GM Potato Labelling
Oct. 2, 2001, the 2nd session of the GM Food Labelling meeting organized by the
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Council at MAFF held a discussion
concerning currently existing labelling standard for GM Foods to determine if they should
widen the list of items. The main issue of the meeting was whether to include GM potato
products under the labelling regime. In the period May to July this year, several different
companies' potato snacks were recalled due to unapproved GM potato
contamination. The government of Japan could have predicted this would happen.
To begin examining now whether or not GM potato should be labelled is
Also at this meeting, food oil and soy sauce were again excluded from the
labelling considerations. However, for the first time there was discussion
about certain new characteristic items such as "genetically modified high-oleic
acid soybean". The meeting concluded by examining whether to label food oil
produced from certain characteristic GMOs (although this would not apply to soy
sauce from such GM soys).
Suntory Ltd. Withdraws GM Carnation in Japan
Suntory Ltd. announced the company will withdraw from domestic cultivation its
GM carnation called "Moondust", which was genetically modified to express a
blue hue. The lines of "Moondust" have gained approval for domestic
cultivation from the Biotechnology Safety Division, Research Council Secretariat,
MAFF. It had been cultivated in Saga, Hokkaido and Wakayama prefectures. Suntory
Ltd. decided to restrict cultivation of "Moondust" to Ecuador, and cease cultivation inside
Japan (Sep. 24, 2001 Nikkei Biotech). This GM flower is the only GM plant which
has been cultivated commercially in Japan.
According to Suntory's official announcement, the reason for this withdrawal is
that the Moondust line is not suitable for the climate of Japan for the purpose
of ensuring the stability of the GM carnation's quality. In reality the company
has been receiving open protest letters from citizens groups in Japan that are
anxious about the environmental effects of cultivating GM flowers. Citizens
groups were threatening to boycott Suntory's products.
However, Suntory is developing more GM flower lines, such as colour-modified
torenia and long shelf life carnation. These Suntory GM flowers are expected to
be on the market soon. The GM torenia will be sold with its root, so
it will be possible to plant the GM flower in ordinary households.