From Bio Journal - July 2009

High tryptophan accumulating GM rice to go to trials

The National Institute of Crop Science of the independent administrative entity the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) has announced that it will carry out outdoor cultivation trials of its high tryptophan accumulating GM rice (see BJ June 2009 Crop approvals) in an isolated field inside the Institute between late June 2009 and March 2011. This GM rice, while being developed as a hopeful health food, has not lived up to expectations, with problems such as bearing very few grains, and has had to switch to animal feed use. This new trial is of an improved variety that has not used an antibiotic resistant gene, but the rice variety used for the recombination was an animal feed variety. (National Institute of Crop Science 2009/05/20)

Somatic cell clone livestock food deliberations repeated

It was decided on 27 May 2009 that deliberations concerning somatic cell clone livestock food in the Food Safety Commission (see BJ April 2009) were to start over from scratch. On 12 march 2009, despite the many abnormalities, food from somatic cell cloned livestock was judged to be safe if from animals 200 days or more after birth or their subsequent generations, and public comments were called for. Usually a report of the findings is sent to MHLW following receipt of comments, but of the 172 comments received almost 80% were critical of the safety assessment and it was decided that the deliberations would have to begin again from the specialist investigating committee on newly developed foods. This is the first time that the Food Safety Commission has had to repeat deliberations. The repeated deliberations were conducted on 08 June 2009, but the final decision was that the assessment would not be changed. (Sankei Shinbun 2009/05/27 and others)

MEXT submits revised draft of human ES cell guidelines

MEXT, which has been carrying on the work of reviewing the "Human ES Cell Establishment and Use Guidelines," finalized a draft revision on 29 May 2009 and has forwarded it to the Council for Science and Technology Policy (see BJ December 2008). In a major structural change, the one set of guidelines that up to now governed both establishment and use is now to be split into two, but the most important focus of this revision is the thorough enforcement of double screening for use programs. Concerning use programs which process already existing ES cells, under the draft revision, once a proposal passes the screening of the intramural ethics committee, all that remains to be done is to notify the state. Further, with regard to the screening of use programs, the draft revision goes so far as to allow screening to be commissioned to an external body if there is no intramural ethics committee. Although double screening will remain in place for establishment programs, where new human ES cells are produced, this revision represents a large relaxation of regulations.

GM crop approvals for June 2009

GM crops approved for open field cultivation (Type 1 usage)
(Biodiversity Impact Assessment Investigative Commission)
NameApproval Date*
CarnationBlue-violet colour and chlorosulfon herbicide toleranceSuntory Ltd.19907, OECD UI: IFD19907-911 June 2009
SoyAryloxyalkanoate and glufosinate herbicide toleranceDow Chemicals JapanDAS68416, OECD UI: DAS68416-411 June 2009
* Technically, approval is granted after public comments have been accepted.

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