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6-Regulation: Japan implements Cartagena Protocol



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TITLE:  Law to regulate GMO usage passed by Diet
SOURCE: The Japan Times
        http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20030611a6.htm
DATE:   June 11, 2003

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Law to regulate GMO usage passed by Diet

The Diet passed a bill into law Tuesday for regulating the use of
genetically modified organisms. The GMO law, expected to take effect next
year, provides Japan with a legal framework to ratify the 2000 Cartagena
Protocol on Biosafety. The biosafety treaty, adopted in Cartagena,
Colombia, in January 2000, regulates international trade of genetically
modified organisms to prevent imported GMOs from damaging ecosystems and
to preserve biodiversity. The law covers not only the genetic engineering
of farm products, but also tinkering with the genetic map of
microorganisms for purposes such as cleaning up the environment or pest
control. While GMOs have found widespread commercial use in farm produce,
the genetic engineering of microorganisms is also expected to become big
business. Under the law, GMO handlers must obtain government approval
before conducting experiments or using them in the open air, and provide
the government with a plan outlining their use as well as an assessment
on the likely impact on biodiversity. The government will have the power
to issue a retrieval order if problems are found in the plan. On indoor
usage, the law stipulates that handlers must take specified measures to
prevent the organisms from leaking outside. Violators will face
imprisonment and other penalties. While the government has already
introduced standardized safety inspection measures on GMOs, the new law
is the first to define environmental responsibilities of different
governmental bodies according to the way the GMOs are handled. The
inspection of genetically modified foods was made compulsory under a
separate law enacted in 2001.




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