From Bio Journal - October 2010

Closeup: Reports on the surveys of GM canola volunteers by citizen groups and MAFF

MAFFfs survey report
On 23 August 2010, Japanfs MAFF announced the results of its survey of GM canola volunteers carried out around importing ports in the three years 2006 to 2008. The results for the surveys carried out in 2009 and 2010, years in which the spread of volunteers became conspicuous, were not included, and areas around edible oils factories and transport routes were not surveyed. In addition, only the cross fertilization of Brassica napus volunteers with karashina (Brassica juncea) and indigenous rapeseed was surveyed, the cross fertilization with other crops and weeds of the brassica family not being surveyed, making this a survey with extreme limitations. The report concludes that there is only an extremely small possibility that GM canola varieties will propagate and drive out non-GM rapeseed or spread through cross-fertilization with non-GM rapeseed varieties. The survey report leaves us with doubts about whether MAFF seriously intends to protect biodiversity.

Citizen groupsf 2010 survey report
Nationwide surveys of mainly areas surrounding ports, edible oil factories, transport routes and feed plants have been carried out following a call from the citizens group gNO! GM Food Campaignh. (See BJ November 2009) A total of 862 samples were taken in the 31 prefectures surveyed. Of the samples, 90 were found to be positive, an increase in the number of positive samples that gives a strong impression of the spread of the genetic pollution.

The special feature of this yearfs survey results is that GM canola volunteers have spread in locations where GM canola has been found in previous years, such as Yokkaichi and Hakata ports, and that the environment is degenerating. Further, in Kamisu City, Ibaraki Prefecture, where countermeasures such as weeding out of volunteers and cleaning procedures have been implemented and where the environment appeared to be returning to its normal state, there has been an explosive spread of GM volunteers. In addition, a survey by gThe Central Japan Association for Thinking about GM Foodsh a cross-fertilized variety of the weedy plant hatazaogarashi (Sisymbrium altissimum) was discovered in Mie Prefecture. This is evidence, along with the broccoli thought to be a crossed-fertilized variety discovered last year (see BJ January 2010), that the genetic pollution is spreading.

Table 1: 2010 Results of Nationwide Survey of GM Canola Volunteers from Seed Spillage
Survey Site (Pref.)Sample No.Positive samples
Other (24 areas)548000
* RR=Roundup tolerant canola, LL=Basta tolerant canola
** Since several samples were sometimes tested at the same time in the Fukuoka Prefecture survey, 15 samples showed a positive response to both RR amd LL, but it is unclear whether these samples had both RR and LL resistance or not.

GM crop approvals for August 2010

Table 2: GM crops approved for open field cultivation (Type 1 usage)
(Biodiversity Impact Assessment Investigative Commission)
NameApproval Date*
SoybeanImidazolinon-type herbicide toleranceBASF Japan Ltd.CV127, OECD UI: BPS-CV127-925 August 2010
SoybeanGlyphosate and isoxaflutole herbicide toleranceBayer CropScience Co., Ltd.FG72, OECD UI: MST-FG072-325 August 2010
* Technically, approval is granted after public comments have been accepted.

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