GMO news related to Japan

01.11.2021 |

CRISPR fish: suspected ‘torture’ breeding

Super muscly red sea bream to be sold in Japan

1 November 2021 / Plans have been announced in Japan to begin marketing red sea bream genetically engineered (GE) with CRISPR/Cas. The gene editing tool was used in the fish to block gene functions which regulate muscle growth. As a result, the fish not only grow more muscle, they also have a larger-sized body, reduced body length and abnormal positioning of the vertebrae. In comparison to the wild type, the fish gains weight faster and appears to move more slowly.

20.07.2021 |

Japan: OK SEED Mark has been launched!

Following the cultivation of gene-edited soy beans in the USA in 2018, and the distribution of its soybean oil starting in 2019, Japan initiated the distribution of the first gene-edited tomato seedlings in May of this year. Later in the year, the Japanese government announced its Green Food System Strategy, which highlights the further use of gene-editing technology to develop new varieties.

As a response, a significant number of Japanese citizens have voiced concern. Citizens are aware that researchers from around the world have expressed concern about the safety of applying gene-editing technology to food. Regardless, the Japanese government argued that “gene manipulation by gene-editing is different from GMO technology and is indistinguishable from processes of natural mutation”, and allowed its distribution without conducting safety inspections or applying any labeling requirements.

22.05.2021 |

Statement: We Protest Against the Distribution of Gene-edited Tomato Seedlings that are Destroying Biodiversity

Calling on the Japanese Government to Strictly Regulate All Gene-edited Organisms

22 May 2021

Consumers Union of Japan

22 May is the International Day of Biodiversity, established by the United Nations. Although this day should be a day to celebrate the abundance of nature, in May this year, the free distribution of gene-edited tomato seedlings has begun in Japan, threatening biodiversity. In addition, gene-edited rice and potatoes are being grown on a trial basis, and there is even a new move to approve fish developed in this way.

20.05.2021 |

Citizen science and social movements: A case of participatory monitoring of genetically modified crops in Japan

Agrifood related social controversies tend to involve scientific issues and advocacy groups increasingly turn to citizen science (CS), participatory data taking by regular people, to produce health and environmental data. A common assumption is that CS’s value lies in the data produced, and its volume and quality decide its persuasive power. This article describes participatory monitoring of genetically engineered rapeseed (canola) in Japan to suggest that social movements can leverage CS not only for the production of scientific data but also as occasions for recruitment, political awareness-raising, and collaboration with other civic organizations. The article proposes a new framework for understanding CS–social movement relations that is multi-actor (vs. expert–laypeople dyad); process-oriented (vs. product/data-oriented); and long-term (vs. one-shot and isolated data taking). There is an increasing awareness of the diversity of CS. Even those that are led by grassroots organizations have multiple and shifting uses of data and foster varying political subjectivity among participants. The proposed framework helps to understand the dynamics that shape such heterogeneous pathways of CS.

23.04.2021 |

New Wave of Protests Against Unregulated Genome-Edited Tomato in Japan

Activists from Japanese consumer organizations and farmers’ groups protested again against the unregulated GABA tomato on Earth Day 22 April 2021. Sanatech Seed is introducing its genome-edited tomato this spring without any safety checks and no mandatory labelling. “It is a genetically modified food and consumers have no idea if it is safe or not, and no way of avoiding it, once it reaches the market,” said one of the speakers at the protest action outside Sanatech’s offices in central Tokyo. This is the second effort to stop the release of the GMO tomato, which is said to be engineered to have “high levels of GABA” without much research to support the claims. Consumers Union of Japan, the No! GMO Campaign and other groups want to stop the introduction before it is too late.

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.