From Bio Journal - March 2022

Genome-edited food companies find inventive ways to promote products

Possibly due to the high price, sales of genome-edited tomatoes are not doing too well, and the developer Sanatech Seed and the manufacturer Pioneer Ecoscience decided to distribute seedlings free of charge to welfare facilities for the elderly and the disabled as well as elementary schools. The opposition movement against this distribution is gathering strength. On January 27, the OK Seed Project, which started self-labeling seeds and seedlings to make it possible to identify them as non-genome-edited crops, held a press conference to announce that it had collected signatures from people opposing the free distribution and submitted them to the two companies and other organizations. The 9,195 signatures were sent to governors, superintendents of schools, and disability welfare departments across the country and it was also reported that the lobbying of municipalities is strengthening.

At the same time, Regional Fish Institute, Ltd., which has developed genome-edited fish, approached Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture, where the fish farm is located, resulting in the genome-edited pufferfish being adopted as a return gift for hometown tax payments. In response, the Consumers Union of Japan sent a written question to the city on January 31, requesting a reply on the background and reasons for the adoption of the genome-edited fish, and requesting the city cease use of the fish as a return gift. The city of Miyazu refused to answer the written question.

On February 27, the Consumer Affairs Agency and Tokushima Prefecture jointly held a risk communication conference in Tokushima City to promote genome-edited foods. At the meeting, Sanatech Seed, the company that developed the genome-edited tomato, and Regional Fish, the company that developed the genome-edited fish, explained the safety of the genome-edited food and made the same assertions as they have done up to now.

Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology to develop a genome-edited cricket

Jun Ogura, a professor at Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology, and his colleagues are to develop a super-cricket using genome-editing technology and are aiming to breed it by 2025. The plan, which also involves insect food-related companies, is part of the Cabinet Office's Moonshot Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research and Development Program.
(Nikkei Biotech Online Edition 2022/1/25)

NEDO launches genome-editing industrialization network

From FY2016 to FY2021, NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) moved forward with a Smart Cell Project, a project to "develop technologies for producing high-performance products using plants and other organisms" that focused on genome-editing technologies. As an extension of this, a genome editing industrialization network will be launched, and a demonstration research system is being put together at Hiroshima University, Kyushu University and other facilities which will be bases for this network.
(Nikkei Biotech, Online Edition 2022/1/25)

Sushiro to develop cell-cultured tuna

Food & Life Companies, the parent company of Sushiro, which has teamed up with Regional Fish to develop genome-edited fish, has entered into an agreement with BlueNalu, Inc., a U.S. venture company that specializes in cell culture technology, for full-fledged cell culture development of tuna and other sushi toppings. BlueNalu entered the cell culture field in 2018 and has partnered with Sumitomo Corp., Mitsubishi Corp. and others. In response, Kura Sushi, Inc. has teamed up with Umitron K.K., a Japanese high-tech fish farming venture. Umitron is developing an AI-powered aquaculture system. Food & Life Companies was also certified as an approved business adaptation planner on January 21, and will use AI to improve production efficiency. It can be said that the fierce competition among sushi chains has led to increased productivity and even resulted in the development of genome-edited fish.

Signatures demanding labeling of genetically modified seeds and seedlings exceed 210,000

On February 8, citizensf organizations including Japan Citizens' Network for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, submitted a petition to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at the Upper House Diet Membersf Office Building to demand that seeds and seedlings be labeled as genetically modified. Genome-edited crops have been grown without labeling and have begun to be distributed, but growers continue to be unable to select seeds and seedlings that are or are not genetically modified. The total number of signatures gathered in the first round in July last year and the second round this year has reached 217,267.

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(English Index)