From Bio Journal - September 2017

Unapproved rice detected in US food products

On 10 August 2017, MHLW detected unapproved Bt rice (see BJ January 2010) from among the plant-derived protein imported from the US by Ariel Trading Co., Ltd., and announced that they had instructed the company to either dispose of or ship the material back to the US. Thus far, Bt rice has been detected in Chinese processed rice foods, but this is the first time that Bt rice has been detected in goods from the US. It is thought that the raw material for this foodstuff was rice produced in China.

RNA interference potato approved

On 20 July 2017, MHLW assessed as safe the new GM crop "RNA interference potato" and approved it as food for distribution. (See related articles in BJ September 2016 and April 2017) Terminating the function of genes by RNA interference, this potato has reduced carcinogenic acrylamide and lowered tendency to black-colored bruising due to strong impacts. The RNAi potato was developed by the US J.R. Simplot Company and is already being cultivated and distributed in the US.

Since a biodiversity impact assessment according to the Cartagena laws has not been carried out, the intention is not to cultivate the potato in Japan. The approval is thus for import and there is a strong possibility that it will be used to make fried potatoes in fast food stores.

On 27 July, MAFF approved the potato for animal feed. As it is unthinkable that the potato will be used directly as feed, this is thought to be based on the notion that the potato might be diverted to animal feed when there is an excess of it for use as human food.

Blue chrysanthemum appears

The Institute of Vegetable and Floriculture Science of the agricultural research organization National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), under the jurisdiction of MAFF, in joint research with the Suntory Global Innovation Center, has developed a blue chrysanthemum. (See BJ November 2009) Originally, the pigment gene from campanula was introduced into chrysanthemum, but that turned out to be a color close to purple. The blue chrysanthemum said to have been finally developed by combining this with the pigment gene from the green butterfly pea.

Nagoya Protocol ratified

Japan ratified the Nagoya Protocol on 20 August 2017, thus enforcing the domestic measure on fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of or opportunities to access genetic resources (the ABS – access and benefit-sharing agreement). This makes it compulsory to report to the Minister for the Environment when genetic resources are obtained from overseas. (See BJ July 2017)

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