From Bio Journal - February 2017

MAFF survey on GM rapeseed and soy situation

On 10 January 2017, MAFF published its Results of the FY2015 survey on the actual situation regarding GM plants. (See BJ December 2015) Rapeseed and soy were the targets if the wild volunteer and crossbreeding survey. For rapeseed, 15 ports were surveyed between April and June, 1,215 samples being taken from 14 ports. Of these, 130 samples from 10 ports were found to be GM rapeseed (Brassica napus). Soy was surveyed at 10 ports between July and September, 13 soy plants and 9 wild soybean (Glycine soja) plants were sampled, of which one plant was found to be GM soy.

This survey discovered one rapeseed sample that had resistance to both glyphosate (the main active ingredient of the herbicide Roundup) and glufosinate (the main active ingredient of the herbicide Basta) at Shibushi Port. The high detection rate at Tomakomai Port, where very few positive samples have been found up to now, was also conspicuous. GM karashina (Brassica juncea) and native rapeseed (Brassica campestris L.) were not detected and rapeseed crossbreeds were not discovered. A total of nine wild soy plants were found, but there was no GM wild soy, and the report claims that there has been no crossbreeding with wild soy.

Mitsui and Co., Ltd. purchase part of Monsanto's agrichemicals business

On 16 January 2017, Mitsui and Co., Ltd. announced the purchase, for 10 billion yen, of the manufacturing and sales rights for Latitude, a seed disinfectant agent for wheat and other crops, a part of Monsanto's agrichemical business. This chemical is marketed mainly in Europe. Monsanto, which has been prioritizing the development of GM wheat, has been pushing forward with restructuring since before the purchase by Bayer, and it is thought that this chemical is low on the list of priorities. (Nikkei Shimbun 2017/01/06)

Government views on public comments regarding The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol

In the move toward ratification of the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (see BJ November 2014), in response to comments received from the public, the subcommittee on the natural environment of the Central Environment Council of the Ministry of the Environment reported its findings on 26 December 2016 in a document entitled The Nature of Domestic Measures in Response to the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol. In the published responses to the call for public comments, the opinion that "Agricultural crops should be included as subject to redress," but the subcommittee's reply was, "(Redress) should not be expanded to agricultural crops." To the opinion, "People's health should also be included," the reply was, "This is within the scope of indirect impacts caused by the impacts to biodiversity."

* The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol sets out the agreements on liability and redress of Article 27 of the Cartagena Protocol that is intended to protect biodiversity from living modified organisms. The protocol was adopted in 2010, when Japan was the host country, but it has not yet been issued. Japan has also not yet ratified the protocol.

Ministry of the Environment finalizes policy on ratification of the Nagoya Protocol

The Ministry of the Environment, in its run-up to the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol (see BJ November 2014), has finalized a Draft Policy on 'Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS)' and has begun to solicit comments from the public. At COP13, held in Mexico, a statement was issued requesting Japan and other countries that had not yet ratified the Nagoya Protocol to do so as soon as possible. Researchers inside Japan have also pointed out that research is being hindered due to the delay in the ratification of the protocol and the government has finally begun to move toward ratification after its delaying tactics in favor of the industry.

* The Nagoya Protocol sets out the agreements on fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, which is the goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity. This protocol was adopted in 2010, when Japan was the host country, and the conference of the parties to the protocol has already begun, but Japan has still to ratify the protocol.

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