From Bio Journal - November 2015

This month's news trend: GMOs in South Korea; Move to stricter labeling fizzles out

On the day that the UN has designated World Food day, 16 October 2015, a South Korean Citizens Organization, the Solidarity Movement for Life and Opposition to GMOs, and a Japanese citizens organization held a protest rally in front of the building in which Monsanto Korea has its offices. As rallies such as this are restricted in South Korea, the event was held nominally as a press conference. This day has also been designated by Consumers International as the day for not eating synthetic seasoning agents, and gAnti-Monsanto Dayh protest rallies have been held on this day in South Korea for the past five years.

The themes of the speeches at the meeting held after the rally were the food labeling issue and GM rice. At the beginning of 2015, the Hankyoreh Newspaper reported on a move to amend the GM food labeling regulations by abolishing the limitation of labeling to the top five ingredients and making the permissible contamination rate by GMOs stricter by reducing it from the current three percent to one percent. The South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has considered this proposal, but there are reports that at present the move has fizzled out.

The commercial cultivation of the GM rice varieties developed by the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairsf association of enterprises for GM crop commercialization is also beginning to take on a more realistic aspect. The first variety scheduled to appear is a GM rice that produces an ingredient for cosmetics. It is being stressed that this is gnot for consumptionh and there appears to be a strong desire to get this first developed-in-Korea GM crop cultivation underway. Further varieties that are preparing for application are two rice varieties for the prevention of diabetes and heart disease, a virus-resistant chili pepper, and a herbicide-resistant lawn.

Food Safety Commission view: Trend for reduced anxiety over GM food

At a meeting with the press for an exchange of views on 2 October 2015, the deputy director-general of the secretariat of the Food Safety Commission, Isao Tojo, gave a report entitled gConcerning Heath Assessment of GM Foods,h in which he stated that gThe trend is for reduced consumer anxiety over GM food.h (Nikkei Biotech, 2015/10/07)

Screening of acrylamide-reduced potato to continue

The GM food specialist investigation panel of the Food Safety Commission deliberated the acrylamide-reduced and bruised potato black-spot-reduced potatoes on 28 September 2015. In experiments using artificial gastric fluids and intestinal fluids, the protein produced by the inserted gene was digested by the gastric fluids in less than 30 seconds, but even after 360 minutes was not digested by the intestinal fluids. This problem became clear at the meeting held in January this year. Several other problems were also pointed out, such as the fact that three types of antibiotic resistant genes have also been used, of which the ampicillin and chloramphenicol resistant genes finally drop out, but the kanamycin resistant gene remains. These problems were not resolved at this meeting and deliberations are scheduled to resume at the next meeting.

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(English Index)