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2-Plants: Results of a nationwide survey on alien GM canola growing wild in Japan

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

TITLE:  Closeup: Results of a nationwide survey on alien GM canola growing
        wild in Japan
SOURCE: Citizens' Biotechnology Information Center (CBIC), Japan, Bio Journal
DATE:   Aug 2005

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Closeup: Results of a nationwide survey on alien GM canola growing wild
in Japan

Citizens in different parts of Japan participated the first nationwide
investigation for checking GM canola growing wild. The samples were
collected from a total of 1,169 inspection points in 23 prefectures. For
the preliminary check, a strip test was used to see if GM proteins
existed, and then the PCR method was used to see if DNA from GMO could be
detected. In result, 153 samples showed GM protein positive at the
preliminary check, and the subsequent PCR check showed that 14 samples
were defined as GMO.

Imported GM canola seeds are first kept in storages at different ports,
and then transported to oil manufacturers by trucks. GM canola seeds have
been spilled at ports and oil factories, as well as during loading and
unloading, and also during transportation. The result of the citizen's
investigation described the true state of spilled GM canola growing wild.
In Fukuoka Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture and Hyogo
Prefecture, GM canola was found growing even in places far removed from
transportation routes, such as in residential areas.

It was a June 2004 MAFF report which first brought to light the issue of
GM canola growing wild. Then in February 2005, the National Institute for
Environmental Studies (NIES) published a report entitled "A monitoring
survey concerning the environmental impact caused by genetically modified
living organisms (canola)". The NIES report also included river bed areas
as a target of its investigation, however GM canola plants were not
identified except around ports.

Local groups have been checking different areas since then and have
confirmed GM canola growing in Yokkaichi port (Mie Prefecture), Nagoya
port (Aichi Prefecture), Kobe port (Hyogo Prefecture), Shimizu port
(Shizuoka Prefecture) and Hakata port (Fukuoka Prefecture). Expansion of
GMO contamination was expected, but the reality was much more than one
would imagine since GM canola plants were found growing in places other
than the expected ports and transportation routes.

MAFF has already expressed its views on this matter, stating, "in
accordance with the "Guidelines for Application of rDNA Organisms in
Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, the Food Industry and Other Related
Industries", MAFF has assessed the GM canola in question as safe on the
assumption that spillage and fortuitous growth might take place. For that
reason, the MAFF is of the opinion that even though GM canola plants are
found growing, there will be no impact on the safety of food, feed and
environment in Japan".

Pollen from canola is easily out-crossed with Brassica family plants,
such as Chinese cabbage and daikon radish, therefore the possibility of
further contamination does exist. In addition, a survey concerning canola
seeds conducted by a group of independent scientists in the US last year
showed that among 12 samples, 11 samples contained GM canola varieties.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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