From Bio Journal - December 2015
Blue carnation to be marketed in pots next spring
Suntory Flowers plans to market the blue GM carnation (see BJ July 2012
) "Moondust" in flower pots in time for Mother's Day next year. Biodiversity assessment has already been applied for under the Cartagena laws and the company will go ahead with marketing as soon as the application is approved. Blue carnations and blue roses are already on sale as cut flowers, but this will be the first instance of a flower being sold in pots and thus for GM plants to be grown in homes.
What the Cabinet Office "Next Generation Agri-innovation" aims for
The Cabinet Office has drawn up a Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP) and has begun activities toward its implementation. One part of the SIP, the Next Generation Agri-innovation Promotion, with one eye on the establishment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), has the aim of bringing about a strategic strengthening of Japan's agriculture, forestry and fisheries technology. However, the content is not about actually strengthening the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries or nurturing farmers, but more about strengthening primary production through innovative technological developments. Intellectual property rights to novel technology will be gained, and eventually advanced agricultural products will be marketed.
Innovative technological developments such as genome editing technology will be one of the areas into which the greatest efforts will be made under the main pillar of the "establishment of novel breeding technology." MAFF, which recognizes that to push forward with the program it is important to gain a social consensus in combination with technological developments, has held seven "novel breeding technology research meetings" in the period October 2013 to July 2015. Among genome editing methods, the ZFN and TALEN methods, as well as the CRISPR method are currently attracting attention. As these technologies have escaped the restrictions of the Cartagena laws, researchers are viewing them as possible breakthrough points for the commercialization of plants using applied biotechnology.
GM canola and GM soy wild volunteers confirmed in MAFF survey
On 29 October 2015, MAFF announced its "Results of the FY2014 survey on the actual situation regarding GM plants," the survey results on GM canola and soy volunteers and crossbreeding (see BJ January 2015
). The survey was carried out in the surroundings of 15 ports for canola and ten ports for soy. For crossbreeding, the survey targets were karasina (Brassica juncea) and native rapeseed (Brassica campestris L.) for canola, and wild soybean (Glycine soja) for soy. The results show that in the canola survey, with the exception of two ports where rapeseed (Brassica napus) were not found, GM canola wild volunteers were confirmed growing in the surroundings of eight of the remaining 13 ports (Tomakomai, Kashima, Chiba, Nagoya, Yokkaichi, Kobe, Hakata, and Tobata Ports). In the soy survey, at the two ports where soybean volunteers were found, GM soybean volunteers were also confirmed to be present (surroundings of Kashima abd Hakata Ports). No crossbreeding was detected in any of the cases.
With the basic outline agreement on TPP, GM crop working group to be established
A basic outline agreement on TPP was reached on 5 October 2015 and the content of the agreement is slowly becoming clear. According to the Cabinet Office's "Outline of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP Agreement)," along with an improvement in transparency at the time of approval of GM crops and information sharing on the non-approved crop contamination issue, a special working group is also to be established. While the position of this working group within the overall structure was not indicated, it will not be limited simply to exchanges of information during consultations with high government officials, but there is the possibility that the WG will make decisions such as on the simplification of safety screening.
Although it is said in reference to GM food labeling that "the agreement contains no provisions that would necessitate a change in Japan's system," it has become clear that Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses are included. In the case that consumers' demands are met and Japan's GM food labeling system becomes stricter, there is the risk that these could be subject to appeals under the ISDS clauses.
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