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From Bio Journal - June 2018



Japan-Korea-Taiwan Non-GMO Asia Forum established

On 8 May 2018, a symposium was held in the Taiwanese capital Taipei on the theme of GM food. The symposium was organized by the School Lunch Project 22 and the GMO Free School Campaign. 22 is the number of major administrative divisions in Taiwan. Homemakers Union Consumers Co-op and the GMO Free Campaign in Taiwan also cooperated with the event in a gathering aimed at making school lunches GMO free. At the gathering, Honorary Professor of Taiwan University Warren Kuo reported on the history of GMOs in Taiwan and explained how Taiwan's GMO food labeling and restrictions were once behind those of Japan and South Korea but are now the most advanced. The gathering ended with the announcement that "Yesterday, May 7, Taiwanfs parliament passed an Organic Agriculture Promotion Act. As similar acts have now also passed in Japan and South Korea, if three of the six countries that use the largest amounts of pesticides per unit area, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, promote organic farming, it will be possible to bring about a large reduction in the amounts of pesticides used in the world." On the same day, a ceremony for the establishment of the Non-GMO Asia Forum was held and it was agreed that in the future the citizens of the three countries would maintain close contact with one another and coordinate their actions.






Outdoor trial cultivation of new genome edited rice begins

On 20 April 2018, the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) announced this fiscal year's experimental cultivation plan for the novokinin function modified rice (see BJ May 2018) that is said to have the function of lowering blood pressure, and the sink function modified rice, developed by genome editing, for increasing yields. Furthermore, on 1 May, a team under Keiji Nishida of Kobe University, jointly with Tsukuba University and Meijo University researchers, announced an experimental cultivation plan for a rice variety developed using the genome editing technology "Target AID," and disclosing that the cultivation trials would begin from late June. Target AID is a method were a restriction enzyme is not used to sever the DNA, but cytosine bases are replaced by thymine bases to halt the expression of the gene. This will be the first cultivation trial of a crop developed through application of this technology. Nishida and his team have thus far conducted experiments with rice and tomato, but this is a rice variety with resistance to an herbicide (acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibiting herbicide). This is supposed to be simply an experiment to demostrate the technology, and it is reported that in future the team will work on highly practical varieties such as feed rice and large-sized tomatoes.





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