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3-Food: Japan approves new GE crops for human consumption

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Japan approves biotec corn, soy varieties for food
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   July 18, 2002

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Japan approves biotec corn, soy varieties for food

TOKYO - Japan's Health Ministry said yesterday it had approved three 
varieties of genetically modified (GM) corn and soybeans as safe for human 
consumption, paving the way for more imports of controversial bioengineered 
foods. Approved crops are insect-resistant, herbicide-tolerant GM corn - 
called Herculex I - from U.S. chemical firm Dow Chemical Co and two 
varieties of herbicide-tolerant GM soybeans from Franco-German 
pharmaceutical group Aventis SA The number of GM plants Japan has approved 
for human consumption thus rises to 43 varieties of six crops-corn, 
soybean, sugar beet, potato, rapeseed and cotton.

Genetically modified crops contain a gene from another organism to give 
plants resistance to a certain herbicide or the ability to produce its own 
toxin to kill pests. Critics say not enough research has been done to 
ensure the new technology is safe for the environment and public health. 
Japan, the world's largest net importer of farm products, started importing 
GM crops six years ago as farmers in the United States began adopting the 
new technology.

To alleviate consumer concerns about the safety of GM foods, the Japanese 
government established in April 2001 zero tolerance for imports containing 
unapproved GM products and required mandatory labelling for foods 
containing approved GM products. The United States, the world's biggest 
producer of GM crops, is the largest supplier of grains and oilseeds to 
Japan, which imports roughly 16 million tonnes of corn and 4.8 million 
tonnes of soybeans annually.


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