From Bio Journal - May 2002

A New Problem Discovered in GM Soy

A new problem was reported in the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare Food Hygiene Sub-Committee meeting on March 26, 2002, concerning Monsanto's herbicide-tolerant corn (maize) and soy, which have already been approved for commercial sales in Japan.

According to supplementary data submitted by Monsanto, there is a defect in the terminal code at one end of the inserted gene in the soy. The gene continues to be read, but the sub-committee claims that "there is no problem because no long proteins have been found." In the case of the corn (maize), an amino acid has been detected which differs from those present at the time of approval. Analysis has shown that there is a defect in the terminal code similar to that found in the soy, but it has been concluded that this also is not a problem. Professor Masaharu Kawata of Nagoya University has criticized the decision, saying that, "This trend of first granting approval on the basis of incomplete data, and then brushing the problem under the carpet by saying that it's no big problem when new facts come to light is happening too often." This seems to shed interesting light on the current practice of carrying out the safety screening based only on data provided by the applicant corporation.

GM Potato Labeling with the USA in Mind

At the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare Food Hygiene Committee meeting on March 26, 2002, compulsory labeling rules for processed foods which contain GM potatoes were approved and will come into effect next year.

In response to this the United States Department of Agriculture questioned whether the labeling requirement would be waived, since no GM potatoes have been commercially planted in the U.S. this year. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has replied that in the case of a country where there is no commercial cultivation, even if there is no Identity Preserved Handling documentation, it is not necessary to label the food as GMO non-separated.

It is possible that GM potatoes planted up to last year will be present in the distribution system for some time. To waive compulsory labeling because cultivation has been suspended is in opposition to conscientious notions of consumer protection.

(English Index)