From Bio Journal - October 2014

Exemption for isolation field trials for GM maize

MAFF presented a screening simplification on 8 August 2014, under which trial cultivation in isolation fields may be exempted if certain conditions, such as if the structure and action of the recombined genes are well understood, are met at the time of a GM maize biodiversity impact assessment. This will come into force after the acceptance of public comments (closed on 6 September). Trial cultivation in isolation fields, used to examine the impact on the environment of GM crops, for which Japan has had no prior experience, are absolutely necessary for Japan as biodiversity impact assessments. The subject of this recent exemption is maize, but the exemption will inevitably be expanded to cover other GM crops.

Clinical use of human ES cells

Regenerative medicine, one of the pillars of the Abe administrationfs economic growth strategy, which has been propelled by the developments surrounding the iPS cell (see BJ October 2013), is to have the ES cell newly added to its list of tools. As the ES cell is produced by destroying a fertilized ovum, there have been ethical barriers to its use, but on 7 August 2014, MEXT and MHLW finalized and announced a draft gGuideline on Human ES Cell Establishment,h making clinical use of ES cells possible.

GM silkworm produces spider thread

On 27 August 2014, The National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS) announced development of a GM silkworm that produces a spider thread with high tensile and elastic strength. The spider thread silk is said to be 1.5 times tougher than normal silk. In the US, Kraig Biocraft Laboratories is also aiming to commercialize a MonsterSilkTM produced from a GM silkworm into which a certain spider gene has been inserted.

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(English Index)