From Bio Journal - June 2011

Citizens submit petition demanding suspension of Miyazaki University GM cotton trials

On 18 April 2011, the Stop! GMO Miyazaki Liaison Association submitted a petition to Miyazaki University demanding the suspension of of GM cotton trials now being carried out by the university. A petition demanding the enactment of an ordinance regulating the cultivation of GM crops was also submitted to Miyazaki Prefecture simultaneously. Miyazaki University, jointly with Bayer CropScience, began cultivation trials of Bayerfs GM cotton in August 2010 and is planning to continue the trials until 2012. Further, the enactment of the GM crop cultivation regulation ordinance was demanded since Miyazaki Prefecture has no power to regulate these GM crop trials. The petition submitted to Miyazaki University was signed by 71,964 individuals and 975 organizations (representing 1,662,813 people), and the petition submitted to Miyazaki Prefecture was signed by 73,050 individuals and 962 organizations (representing 1,615,483 people).

GM companies submit an eopinionf on cultivation trials to Miyazaki Prefecture

On 11 April 2011, a biotech information dissemination association established by the American company Monsanto the German company Bayer and other multinational enterprises as a publicity organization submitted an eopinionf about GM crop trials to Miyazaki Prefecture. This is thought to be a response to the petition movement now spreading throughout the prefecture demanding a suspension of GM crop trials. (Biotech Information Dissemination Association 2011/04/12)

Closeup: GM papaya distributed domestically

It has become clear that GM papaya seeds were imported illegally from Taiwan, cultivated in Okinawa and distributed. This has become the first time that raw GM food has been consumed in Japan. According to a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) announcement, it has now become clear that the papaya seeds known as gTaiwan No.5,h imported from Taiwan between 2005 and 2009 were GM seeds. The seeds were imported by four seed companies in Okinawa and other places, and it appears that approximately three kilograms of seeds were sold in Okinawa and that about 100 tons of the papaya fruit have been produced and distributed each year. On the basis of the domestic Cartagena laws MAFF has instructed the seed companies to dispose of their stock and at the same time has demanded a report on the sales destinations. Okinawa Prefecture is implementing the destruction of the cultivated trees.

The catalyst for the uncovering of this illegal distribution was the Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) considering a labeling system for GM papaya. As reported in the BJ for April 2011, with sales approval about to be given, the National Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) purchased samples of raw papaya fruit and papaya seedlings in agricultural produce direct-sales shops and home centers in Okinawa Prefecture in early December 2010 in order to establish a testing method. Having performed trial analyses on these samples it was found that GM genes were detected in one of the eight samples.

Since it was found that the GM genes contained DNA in common with a GM papaya now in the process of research in Taiwan, it is thought that there is a strong possibility that a Taiwanese GM papaya was mixed in with the purchased samples. The planting and distribution of this papaya is not approved even in Taiwan.

This GM papaya has a trait for resistance to the virus that causes the papaya ringspot disease and it has been pointed out that there is a possibility that it may cause allergies in humans. Similar papayas are already being cultivated in Hawaii and these Hawaiian papayas have also previously been distributed on the Japanese market.

Papayas grown in Japan are mainly varieties that have been multiplied as cuttings from seedlings propagated by tissue culture at the tropical crop section of Miyazaki Agricultural Institute, and which are marketed by Miyazaki Central JA. However, seeds and seedlings are imported from countries including Taiwan and Thailand, the largest exporter to Japan being Taiwan.

The draft bill for the papaya GM food labeling being prepared by the CAA has been finalized and public comments were solicited from 7 April to 6 May. This was also communicated to the WTO at the same time. The papaya is expected to receive approval when these activities are completed.

Reference materials:

Domestic Papaya Harvest (2008) (tons)








Import of Raw Papaya (2009) (tons)










Imports of Papaya Seeds and Seedlings from Taiwan
-Seeds (kg)Seedlings (number)















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