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2-Plants: Japanese news on GE rice



                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Closeup: Hokuriku Research Center's multi-resistant GM rice
SOURCE: Citizens' Biotechnology Information Center (CBIC), Japan, Bio Journal
        http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~cbic/english/2005/journal0507.html
DATE:   Jul 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


Closeup: Hokuriku Research Center's multi-resistant GM rice

 The Hokuriku Research Center (Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture), a part
of NARC (National Agriculture Research Center) and under the independent
administrative entity NARO (National Agriculture and Bio-oriented
Research Organization) has been pushing forward with the trial
cultivation of a new GM rice variety. This rice is a multi-resistant rice
containing an anti-bacterial protein (defensin) from mustard (see
Closeup, BJ June 2005).

The gene which confers disease resistance is the gene for the defensin
(DEF) protein from mustard, and because the rice-originating promoter for
the gene is characteristic of green leaf tissue and functions only in the
leaves and stem of the plant, the defensin protein will not appear in the
rice grain.

Further, the mALS gene used as the marker gene is a herbicide-resistant
gene resistant to sodium bispiribach (sodium 2,6-bis(4,6-
dimethoxypyrimidin-2-yloxy)benzoate), the active ingredient of "Nominee",
a herbicide which became a registered agrochemical in 1997. This gene is
also a rice-originating gene which is characteristic of callus
(undifferentiated tissue for lab cultures), and so does not work in any
plant individual besides calluses.

An RK2-line plasmid from Pseudomonas aeruginosa is used as the vector,
and this contains an antibiotic (tetracyclin) resistance gene. This gene
also said to be outside the area of the DNA transferred (T-DNA,
Transferred DNA) from the plasmid into the genome of the rice plant. The
rice variety into which the defensin protein gene has been inserted
(Dontokoi) is also one which was developed at the same research centre.

Such is the explanation, but the fact that this is a group of
artificially produced genes is no different from previous GM rice
strains. Especially problematical are unintended effects which occur due
to the insertion of the genes, whether they be from individual genes or
because of the combination of genes inserted. Problems may occur because
the amount of DNA material has increased, or the location in which the
genes have been inserted may block or destabilize the working of other genes.

At the research centre, the cultivation trials are being carried out on
an "isolation field" simply surrounded by a wire net fence. This is no
different from an ordinary field from the point of view of pollen
dispersion. According to Mr. Hyoji Namai, the lifetime of rice pollen is
five to six minutes. Assuming it is five minutes, at a wind speed of 1 m/
s pollen would travel 300 m, at 3 m/s that would be 900 m, and at 5 m/s
the pollen would travel 1.5 km. The nearest farm is only 220 m. from the
trial.

The purpose of the current trial is "line selection". In this trial,
seven cultivars from five lines of GM rice have been planted and it is
expected that line selection will be carried out from among these.


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Trend: GM rice R&D in now occurring worldwide
SOURCE: Citizens' Biotechnology Information Center (CBIC), Japan, Bio Journal
        http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~cbic/english/2005/journal0508.html
        file attached: figure1.jpg
DATE:   Aug 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


Trend: GM rice R&D in now occurring worldwide

Research and development of GM rice varieties is becoming very active in
the world these days. In Japan, the Hokuriku Research Center at the
National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) in Niigata Prefecture has
started a field trial of its rice blast and white leaf blight resistant
GM rice containing anti-bacterial protein from mustard this year (see BJ
July 2005 and this issue), but there are others like, cedar pollen
allergenic GM rice (see  this issue), erect-leaved semi-dwarf GM rice,
semi-dwarf GM rice as well as iron-deficiency tolerant GM rice.

 Overseas, Syngenta has developed a so-called "new golden rice", which
contains more B-carotene, according to the company, and the IRRI director
general, Dr Robert S. Zeigler said that he is hoping to conduct field
trials for it within 2 years and to commercialize it within 5 years.

The situation in China is being watched closely right now. The issue of
the illegal GM rice (see BJ July 2005), which has been cultivated and
distributed in Hubei province, has drawn much attention, but further, the
Chinese GMO Biosafety Committee recommended in December 2004 that the
Ministry of Agriculture give a safety permit to Xa21 GM rice, which is
protected against bacterial blight, for commercialization, but the
Ministry has not yet granted the permission.

Moreover, there is some "pharmaceutical-producing GM rice" development
going on in the US. Ventria Bioscience in California has developed a
drug-producing GM rice, which produces two types of proteins, human
lactoferrin and lysozym.

According to an FAO report entitled "Status of research and application
of crop biotechnologies in developing countries: Preliminary assessment",
published in 2005, field trials have been conducted for herbicide
glufosinate resistant GM rice (LL rice) in Brazil and Lepidoptera-
resistant transgenic rice (Bt rice) in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Table 1) Status of development of GM rice
[attached]


China's response to illegally cultivated GM rice

On 15 June 2005, the Department of Food Safety at MHLW divulged that it
had received a response from the Chinese government regarding the illegal
GM rice cultivation in China as early as 22 April. According to the
MHLW's limited announcement, the Chinese authority responded, 1) there is
no record of Bt rice export to Japan, and it is not at the stage of
commercialization, 2) no further information will be provided, 3) it will
be controlled in accordance with Chinese bylaws and regulations.

On May 21, the MHLW again forwarded the following three requests to the
Chinese authorities; 1) establish measures for preventing illegal GM rice
being exported to Japan, 2) establish measures for preventing Chinese
approved GM rice that is not approved in Japan being exported to Japan,
3) provide a progress report on safety assessment of GM rice. Thus far,
the Ministry has had no reply from the Chinese authorities.


GM rice planted for line selection in Joetsu City

The Hokuriku Research Center (Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture), a part of
NARC (National Agriculture Research Center) and under the independent
administrative entity NARO (National Agriculture and Bio-oriented
Research Organization) has been pushing forward with the trial
cultivation of a new GM rice variety, a multi-resistant rice containing
an anti-bacterial protein (defensin) from mustard. (See Closeup, July
2005) The second transplanting of seedlings took place at the Center on
29 June 2005.

The first transplanting took place on 31 May 2005, but as this is for
checking the disease resistance of the rice, it is due to be mowed before
flowering takes place. The plants involved in the second transplanting
are for the purpose of harvesting seeds and so will be allowed to flower
and form seeds. The transplanting has been delayed about four weeks so as
not to coincide with the flowering stage of the commercial Koshihikari
rice variety being grown locally. The purpose of the current trial is
"line selection". In this trial, seven cultivars from five lines of GM
rice have been planted and it is expected that line selection will be
carried out from among these.


Application for temporary injunction to suspend GM rice trial

On 24 June 2005, an application for a temporary injunction order to
suspend transplanting of a GM multi-resistant rice variety being
developed at the Hokuriku Research Center (Joetsu City, Niigata
Prefecture) was applied for at the Takada Branch of the Niigata District
Court by a group of twelve citizens, including a farmer from Joetsu City
and members of a Niigata co-operative who purchase locally grown rice.

The grounds of the application were, in addition to the danger of GM
technology, that the necessary conditions for the justification of open-
field trial cultivation had not been met. The injunction order demands
the suspension of the transplantation of the GM rice, mowing of the rice
that has already been transplanted, and suspension of the test sprays of
rice blast and white leaf blight bacteria. When the first examination of
the case was to take place on 28 June 2005, heavy rain prevented trains
from moving, making it impossible for the researchers and lawyers to
attend. An exchange of faxes was carried out instead.


Cold-resistant rice to be tested in Hokkaido in 2007

The National Agricultural Research Center for Hokkaido Region (NARCH,
Sapporo City, Hokkaido, under the independent administrative entity
National Agriculture and Bio-oriented Research Organization [NARO]) has
announced that open-field trials of a cold-resistant GM rice, with an
inserted gene originating from wheat, will begin in 2007. At the moment
hothouse trials are being carried out, and it is intended that a patent
be applied for. Hearings for local residents will take place during this
fiscal year. If the planned open-field trials go ahead, they will be the
first of their kind to do so since the establishment of the GM crop
cultivation regulation bylaw in Hokkaido in March 2005 (See BJ May 2005)
(Japan Agricultural Newspaper, 2005/06/09)


NIAS transplants cedar pollen allergenic rice

The transplantation of seedlings of the "cedar pollen allergenic rice" (a
GM rice designed to be effective against cedar pollen allergy in humans)
into an isolated field at NIAS (National Institute of Agrobiological
Sciences, Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture) took place on 8 June 2005.
This cedar pollen allergenic rice is the is the same one which was
supposed to have undergone open-field trials at the JA fields in
Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, last year before these were
suspended and the project switched to hothouses due to strong opposition
from citizens. (See Closeup, BJ May 2005) Until now NIAS has used paddy
fields at other research stations, but this year isolated fields have
been prepared at NIAS and this will be their first planting.



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