From Bio Journal - August 2019

Genome-edited crops quickly appearing in commercial production

The US venture Cybus has announced that it will soon launch the sale of four varieties of the genome-edited rapeseed seed "Falco". Taking its cue from Calyxt, which launched the sale of its genome-edited high-oleic acid soybeans as "non-GMO", Falco will also be marketed as non-GMO. Falco has resistance against sulfonylurea herbicides. According to Cybus, the advantage of this rapeseed is that it is a countermeasure to the herbicide Roundup's superweeds and is suitable as a rotation crop with Roundup resistant soybeans. It is thought that further traits, other than herbicide resistance, will also be expressed in this rapeseed. (GM Watch 2019/6/21)

In Japan, deliberations on the legal restrictions concerning genome-edited foods have ended and explanatory meetings for the general public were held in five locations nationwide between July 2 and 12. (See BJ July 2019) Thus, for manipulations that simply sever DNA and destroy genes, it has been decided that none of the regulations related to environmental impact assessments based on the Cartagena laws, safety screening of foods based on the Food Sanitation Act, or labelling under the Food Labelling Act will be applied.

It is now certain that the first genome-edited crop product to be imported from the US will be the Calyxt high oleic acid soybean, and Falco is expected to follow on from this. As appeals are being made for high oleic acid soybeans as a "healthy" food, they are likely to be separated, but since herbicide-resistant rapeseed will be mixed with the general rapeseed crop, separation will be impossible.

Calyxt, which is developing genome-edited crops one after another, has already received notification from USFDA that the white mildew resistant wheat (2016) and the high-amylose wheat (2018) will not be subject to regulations or safety evaluations. Planting will begin in 2020. After soybeans and rapeseed, it is likely to be wheat that will be the next to be imported into Japan.

MAFF will not block import even if new strains of non-approved GM wheat are detected

On July 12, wild volunteers of non-approved GM wheat were once again discovered in Washington State, US. The varieties, both glyphosate resistant, are MON71300 and MON71800. 71300 is a new strain that cannot be detected by test methods used thus far. In this kind of case, MAFF has in the past firstly blocked imports and then implemented checks after having established a test method. This time, however, imports were not blocked as it said to be possible (rather than using the PCR test method used thus far) to carry out tests using the simple "lateral flow immunochromatographic assay" testing method, which makes detection of comingled GM material possible in about 10 minutes. It is thought that MAFF was concerned about impacts on Japan-USA trade negotiations.
(Japan Agricultural Newspaper 2019/7/18)

MHLW and MAFF begin accepting public comments on genome-edited foods

Based on the notion that they differ from GM crops and foods, MHLW (from June 27) and MAFF (from June 28) began the solicitation of public comments concerning genome-edited crops and foods, which the ministries have exempted from regulations. (See BJ July 2019) MHLW has proposed a notification mechanism for genome-edited foods and additives, which it has exempted from regulations under the Food Sanitation Act. MAFF has proposed an information provision mechanism for genome-edited organisms, which it has exempted from regulation under the domestic Cartagena laws. Having carried out this solicitation of public comments, the way will be open for the domestic cultivation and import of genome-edited crops.

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(English Index)