From Bio Journal - October 2016

Origin of Argentinian GM wheat contamination in Australia?

The origin of the GM wheat contaminated with MON71800 that was imported into South Korea from Argentina has become clearer (previous article in Japanese in BJ September 2016). According to the citizens organization Stop GMO Pacific, there is a possibility that the contamination first arose in Australia, as the ship that transported the wheat to South Korea had come to Argentina from Australia. The organization points out that there is very active development of GM wheat ongoing by Monsanto and others in Australia.

Concerning the unapproved GM wheat MON71700 newly discovered in the US, on 24 August 2016 MHLW sent out notification of the detection method of the wheat in question to the heads of quarantine stations in the name of the Director of the Environmental Health and Food Safety Division, Pharmaceutical Safety and Environmental Health Bureau. With this, on 1 September 2016, MAFF allowed the resumption of imports of US wheat. Resuming imports without a thorough investigation of the origin of the contaminated wheat could lead to further problems of the discoveries of contamination and import suspensions.

Vegetable oil with unapproved food additives on the market

MHLW announced on 16 September 2016 that an oil produced from vegetable raw materials by Cargill Canada, a part of the Cargill grain major group, and imported and sold in Japan by Cargill Japan and Mitsubishi Corporation, used illegal GM food additives in the manufacturing process. These GM food additives, lipase and phospholipase, are used to remove impurities during the manufacturing process. They are produced using GM microorganisms which have not yet passed the safety screening. MHLW immediately instructed both companies to suspend import and sales of this oil.

State of GMO pollution at Nara Institute of Science and Technology made clear

In May 2016 at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, nearly 300 GM plants were found to be growing on the campus (see BJ June 2016) and MEXT has now uncovered the full extent of the problem. Growing wild were  thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) plants of the brassica family, and there is a strong possibility that "seeds were affixed to the outside of the transportation container" when the plants were carried out of the plant cultivation room. The fundamental cause is failure to carry out dispersion protection measures.

Japanese pufferfish shows speedy growth through genome editing

Dr. Masato Kinoshita of Kyoto University and a research team at the Japanese Fisheries Reasearch and Education Agency have destroyed the myostatin gene that controls meat growth using gene editing technology to develop a Japanese pufferfish (Takifugu rubripes) that grows at twice the normal speed. There is ongoing competition around the world currently to use the the destruction of the myostatin gene to increase the speed of growth or develop more muscular animals, not only of fish but also livestock. (NHK 2016/9/9)

First meeting of the Japanese Society for Genome Editing

On 6 and 7 September 2016, the first meeting of the Japanese Society for Genome Editing was held. As Professor Takashi Yamamoto of the Hiroshima University, Graduate School of Science has led this field in Japan, the meeting was held at Hiroshima University and reports were given on the outcomes of developments such as the alkaloid-reduced potato. On 26 August 2016, a symposium on functional development of agricultural products using advanced technology was organized by the International Union of Food Science and Technology - Japan. The central theme of the symposium was crop development using genome editing technology.

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