GMO news related to Japan

03.02.2021 |

CRISPR Tomatoes approved in Japan

Wide range of associated risks

3 Februar 2021 / Japan granted approval in January for the first ‘CRISPR tomatoes’ to be used in food production. There are plans to distribute the genetically engineered (GE) plants to home gardeners. The tomatoes contain a much higher concentration of a plant compound (GABA) compared to those derived from conventional breeding. This is an example of how it is possible to bring about major changes in the composition of food plants without inserting additional genes. The cultivation and consumption of the tomatoes are, however, associated with a wide range of risks.

23.01.2021 |

Japan's first genome-edited food, a tomato, gets green light for distribution

Tomato is designed to have biological effects on consumers – but there's no safety data or GMO labelling

A gene-edited tomato that is intended to have a biological effect on consumers has been approved in Japan for commercial sale – without safety checks or GMO labelling. The tomato is genetically engineered to contain higher than usual amounts of GABA, a substance that is said to have the ability to lower blood pressure.

23.12.2020 |

Protest Against Genome Edited “GABA” Tomato in Tokyo, Japan

In what may have been the world’s first protest against a genome edited GMO food product, the GABA tomato, activists from Consumers Union of Japan and the No! GMO Campaign gathered outside Sanatech’s offices in central Tokyo, Japan on 23 December 2020.

* GABA = Gamma-AminoButyric Acid

11.12.2020 |

Japan's first genome-edited food item, a tomato, gets green light for distribution

On December 11, Japan's first genome-edited food item obtained a green light for domestic sales. This was the high-GABA accumulated tomato, the "Sicilian Rouge High GABA," developed by Professor Hiroshi Ezura and his team at Tsukuba University. The green light was obtained when, on December 11, Tsukuba Universityfs venture company Sanatech Seed notified and presented data to MAFF, and notified MHLW. Having these accepted by the two ministries completes the necessary procedure for commercialization of the tomato. As genome-edited foods do not require an environmental impact assessment or safety screening as food or feed, the reality is that it is possible to distribute the food in this way, and that the food will appear on our dining tables without any labelling.

02.12.2020 |

Report: Current status of New & Emerging GM Technologies in Japan and Consumer Reactions

This is a brief report on the current status of new and emerging GM technologies, including genome editing, in Japan. We also want to highlight the debate and protests that are ongoing regarding such technologies. Consumers Union of Japan has concluded that we do not want to be unknowingly exposed to food artificially created in this way, and that we do not need such genome-edited food.

24.04.2020 |

CUJ and the No! GMO Campaign: Please Reply to Our Questions Regarding Glyphosate Use in Hokkaido

Request to cease use of pre-harvest glyphosate in soybeans and reply to questions regarding its use

In response to our questionnaire dated March 17 2020, you responded on March 27 by e-mail, but you did not answer our questions 1 to 4.

Domestic agriculture is in a deep crisis due to trade agreements such as the TPP, the EU-Japan EPA, and the US-Japan FTA. We believe that the pursuit of safety in order to compete with cheap imported agricultural products is the best way to increase confidence in domestic agriculture and to survive. Many of the JAs under your organization are actively reducing the use of pesticides and pursuing environmentally friendly agriculture. Not only do we want you to produce safe agricultural products, but we also want to support domestic agriculture, which is responsible for Japan’s food self-sufficiency, and we worry about the health of the producers who are spraying pesticides.

10.04.2020 |

CUJ: Concerns Regarding Genome Editing of Fish

An article appeared in Tokyo Shimbun on January 24, 2020 that reported on the use of genome editing to exterminate invasive fish. The research is being pushed forward as a study by the National Research Institute of Aquaculture.


Consequently, Consumers Union of Japan wrote to the research center on January 29 to express our concern and to ask a number of questions. We consider that this type of genome editing can have a large impact on related species, the natural environment, as well as the entire ecosystem. This impact due to the release of genome-edited fish must be analysed very carefully. On February 17 we received a reply from the research center.

23.05.2019 |

Japan: Please Join One Million Signature Petition Campaign: “Regulate All Gene-edited Food!”

Dear Friends and Fellow Anti-GMO Campaigners,

Please Join Our One Million Signature Petition Campaign:

“Regulate All Gene-edited Food!”

In March 2019, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan

concluded that no regulation is needed for most of gene-edited food to

be sold in Japan. The Ministry of the Environment also announced its

decision to require regulation only for limited gene-edited food using

created with specific processes. Consequently, some sources expect

gene-edited food to be available as early as this summer of 2019 in


We, Consumers Union of Japan, together with concerned grassroots

organizations and Co-ops across Japan, have been advocating the

strictest possible regulation at a level that is at least equal to GMO

regulations over the last few years, but our voice has not been

reflected in the government’s decision making as of now. Our demand is

fully in accordance with our consumers’ rights stipulated in the Basic

Act on Consumers Policies.

We are highly concerned about this situation. No regulation means

basically no enforced safety tests, no transparency and no labelling.

Due in part to the fact that Japan is a country with less than 40% of

food self-sufficiency, consumers can only expect a marketplace that is a

virtual hell filled with uncontrolled gene-edited food produced possibly

both domestically and globally, unless we take action.

21.02.2019 |

Open Letter to Australia: Please Regulate New GM Technologies Strictly

To: Minister Bridget McKenzie

We are Consumers Union of Japan, founded in 1969, as a member-based consumer organization. One of our main concerns is the many problems with genetically modified organisms (GMO) and GM food. Consumers in Japan are strongly opposed to GM technology and do not want to eat such products.

In light of this, we are alarmed to hear that Australia is considering to deregulate new GM technologies, including CRISPR, in animals, plants and microbes. Japanese consumers would not at all be willing to eat such products, either. We do not believe the claims that these new technologies are “precise” or “predictable” but regard them with the same mistrust as older GM technologies, that can harm biological diversity, as well as pose unknown risks to human health.

Please regulate new GM technologies as strictly if not even stricter than older GM technologies, or you risk harming Australia’s image as a food producer here in Japan, and we will boycott all such products.

22.08.2018 |

In the News: “Gov’t committee’s GMO deregulation proposal too hasty: consumer groups, experts”

Consumers Union of Japan has been active in the debate about regulation of GMOs since the mid 1990 and firmly believe the new technologies, such as gene editing, must be strictly regulated. CUJ’s stance is that any such experiments should be stopped to avoid serious adverse effects on human health and the environment.

August 21, 2018 (Mainichi Japan)

TOKYO — Consumer groups are taking aim at Aug. 20 recommendations by an Environment Ministry expert committee that some genetically modified organisms (GMO) be deregulated.

The expert committee proposed deregulation of organisms edited to remove or deactivate certain genes as opposed to adding new code, but critics are claiming this is “the same as genetic manipulation,” and that it is “strange” to exempt it from government restrictions.