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 exceedingly late.

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.

(English Index)