From Bio Journal - February 2018

60 varieties of GM petunia illegally distributed by 23 companies

MAFF and the Ministry of the Environment announced their final report on the illegal distribution of GM petunia on 15 December 2017 (See BJ October 2017). According to the report, the survey of all 1359 petunia varieties that had been on sale inside Japan since July 2016 had been completed and the state of distribution in Japan of the illegal GM petunias, first discovered in Finland and in circulation around the world, had been made clear. Four companies and 10 varieties were discovered anew, bringing the total to 23 companies and 60 varieties.

NARO plans to test cultivate 5 varieties on GM rice this year

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) announced its GM crop outdoor cultivation trials for FY2018 on 26 December 2017 (See BJ December 2017). According to the announcement, NARO intends to cultivate five GM rive varieties at the isolated fields and high-functioning isolated fields at its research center in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture. A rice containing Cryptomeria japonica pollen polypeptides, a rice that accumulates novokinin and a multiple disease resistant rice will be cultivated in the isolated fields, and a rice containing Cryptomeria japonica pollen peptides and a sink function modified rice will be grown in the high-functioning isolated fields.

The sink function modified rice was developed using genome editing technology. The unfamiliar novokinin accumulation rice is reported to be a rice that has been genetically modified to accumulate novokinin peptide, said to be effective in lowering blood pressure, in the albumen, an edible part of rice. Peptides are like proteins that have been reduced in size, and novokinin peptide originates from egg albumen.

GM measles virus moves to approval

On 11 January 2018, MAFF began to solicit opinions from the general public in a move toward approval of a GM measles virus to be used in breast cancer treatment for dogs, stating that it has no impacts of biodiversity. The applicant is Tokyo University, and since the measles virus will be used in the treatment of dogs, the approval will be for Type-1 use, which is for use outdoors.

Food Safety Commission relaxes GM food safety screening

At the GM foods, etc. specialist investigatory committee meeting held on 22 December 2017, the Food Safety Commission made a proposal entitled "Concerning Safety Assessments of Hybrid Varieties of GM Plants of which the Host Metabolic System has been Altered," which was approved. In the early period of safety screening, hybrid varieties of two or more GM plants were considered to be new GM plants and were all subject to safety screening. Later, however, for some varieties, if both (or all) were confirmed as safe, the hybrid was also assessed as safe and the safety screening became unnecessary. This latest proposal expands the scope of this idea (See BJ August 2016).

Adverse phenomenon occurs with iPS cells

It was announced by the operating surgeon on 16 January 2018 that an adverse phenomenon had occurred in the worldfs first organ transplants performed using iPS cells. This was observed after transplant operations to five patients suffering from exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD, a leading cause of irreversible vision loss) that was carried out jointly by RIKEN and Kobe Medical Center General Hospital. The iPS cells used were prepared from people thought to be unlikely to result in rejection reactions. Having transplanted the prepared retinas, as edemas formed in the retina of one of the patients, an operation was performed to remove the preretinal membrane. (Jiji News 2018/1/16)

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(English Index)