From Bio Journal - April 2002
Towards Hothouse Experiments Using MAT Vectors
A group at a former MAFF (Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) research institute, the now independent National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, has begun isolation experiments in secure hothouses with rice into which a human lactoferrin gene has been inserted. This GMO rice was first developed by Allergen-Free Technology Research Institute and then taken over by Zen-Noh (National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations, JA). Several varieties of this GMO rice have already been approved by MAFF.
This new experiment has been carried out using the MAT (Multi-Auto-Transformation) Vector System developed by Nippon Paper Industries. This new system does not use the antibiotic resistance marker gene, the efficiency of gene insertion is good, and since extraneous vector regions can be removed after gene insertion, this method is promoted as having high safety. However, since corn (maize) transposon is used as a part of the vector, it also contains an unstable factor.
Mitsui Chemicals Initiates Commercial Sales of Rice Seed
Mitsui Chemicals is taking serious steps to move into the agri-bio business. Up to now, the company has engaged in the development of new rice varieties, but had previously carried out only experimental seed sales. From this year, Zen-Noh will market the company's hybrid rice seeds. To date, the company has developed low-amylose (flavour-improved) rice using antisense technology, low-allergen rice, and a GMO rice variety with a gene from corn (maize) inserted to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis. The new seed commercialization will not involve GMO rice varieties, but can be seen as a move towards such commercialization in the future. It seems that one factor in this move is that patents which up to now have made development of new varieties extremely costly are beginning to expire.