From Bio Journal - October 2013

Testing of GM cold-resistant eucalyptus to be extended at Tsukuba University

Thus far, Tsukuba University has carried out isolated field testing on six varieties of salt-tolerant eucalyptus and one variety of cold-resistant eucalyptus. The salt-tolerant eucalyptus varieties are for the purpose of assessing biodiversity, but the testing of cold-resistant eucalyptus calls for the cultivation of a maximum of 10 strains of eucalyptus to see which strain is the most suitable. To give eucalyptus the cold-resistance trait, genes from cyanobacteria are inserted into the eucalyptus and a kanamycin-resistance gene is used as a marker.

An application for trial cultivation in an isolated filed was submitted to the Ministry of the Environment in order to extend the testing period for the cold-resistant eucalyptus and a period for public comment closed on 23 August 2013. The extension is expected to be approved soon.

New herbicide-tolerant soybean also to be approved in Japan soon

On 6 September 2013, the Food Safety Commissionfs specialist panel on GM foods held a closed-door meeting at which a safety assessment was carried out for a herbicide tolerant soybean. Application for approval had been submitted by Syngenta Japan. This GM soybean is an HPPD-inhibiting herbicide with gluphosinate (the main active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup) resistance and it appears that it will be approved very soon. HPPD (p-Hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase) is an enzyme that is crucial for life activities, and the inhibition of this makes for a herbicide that causes plants to wither.

iPS cells to play major role in economic growth

The Liberal Democratic Party administration of PM Shinzo Abe has set up health and medical treatment as one of the pillars of its economic growth strategy (see BJ September 2013, passing a cabinet resolution on a ghealth and medical treatment strategyh on 14 June 2013 and establishing a ghealth and medical treatment strategy promotion headquartersh with PM Abe himself as chief through a cabinet resolution passed on 2 August. Deregulation is planned for the health and medical field, and the power of private businesses will be harnessed to bring health and medical treatment forward as a driving force for economic growth. The iPS cell and health foods have been positioned respectively as the central elements in medical treatment and health. Moreover, the government held a deregulation conference on 12 September at which policy announcements were made that the budget allocations for the upcoming fiscal year would be boosted, laws amended and restrictions relaxed for 50 areas slated for deregulation, including health and medical treatment.

GMO crop approvals for this month

The following GM crops have been approved for open field cultivation (Type 1 usage) by the Biodiversity Impact Assessment Investigative Commission. (Formal approval is granted after public comments have been accepted.)
  • Aryloxyalkanoate and gluphosinate herbicide-tolerant soybean (Dow Chemical Japan)
  • Dicamba and gluphosinate herbicide-tolerant cotton (Monsanto Japan)
  • Stearidonic acid enhanced and glyphosate herbicide-tolerant soybean (Monsanto Japan)
  • Lepidoptera and coleoptera pest-resistant, gluphosinate and glyphosate herbicide-tolerant maize (DuPont)

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