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Japan ending monitoring of some biotech events

In a move that has the support of the United States Grains Council, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) announced recently that it will discontinue tests for two biotech events, which is certain to draw further praise from other biotech innovators.



April 6, 2009
By United States Grains Council

April 3, 2009

On April 1, 2009, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) of the Japanese Government announced it is discontinuing testing for two biotech corn events unapproved in Japan, StarLink and Bt10.


The US Grains Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to building demand for US barley, corn, sorghum and associated co-products, has been monitoring the acceptance of modern biotechnology in Japan for the last several years.


"We applaud the Ministry’s efforts to apply sound science to regulatory decisions," said Ken Hobbie, USGC president and CEO. "This is a step in the right direction and we look forward to working closely with Japanese regulators to ensure they have accurate information regarding biotechnology used in US agriculture, which allows farmers to meet all demands in a growing world."


MHLW has a zero tolerance policy for unapproved biotech corn events. Until now, US firms paid for preloading testing for StarLink, Bt10 and E32 in corn, which contributed to the cost of corn imported to Japan. The decision to end StarLink and Bt10 testing on imported US corn was announced as a part of MHLW’s new fiscal year monitoring plan.


"Efforts to convince MHLW on the negligible food safety risk of the two events by the Council and its members helped them make this decision," said USGC Director in Japan Tommy Hamamoto. "The continuation of zero findings by the MHLW monitoring system and the fact that they realized the negligible food safety risks of the events led the agency responsible for food safety to stop monitoring them."


The monitoring for E32 will be maintained, although at a low sampling rate.


"The Council expects the testing for E32 could be ended after a year if MHLW does not find any positives," said Hamamoto. "These decisions by MHLW are big steps in contributing to the smoothing the process of corn trade between the United States and Japan."


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