Japan’s plan to deregulate CRISPR-edited crops may trigger backlash from consumers still wary of GMOs

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Protestors show placards with the message "No Monsanto" and "No more GMO" during the protest in front of Monsanto's office in Ginza, Tokyo, September 17, 2013. (Photo by Rodrigo Reyes Marin/AFLO)

Japan will allow gene-edited foodstuffs to be sold to consumers without safety evaluations as long as the techniques involved meet certain criteria, if recommendations agreed on by an advisory panel….are adopted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. This would open the door to using CRISPR and other techniques on plants and animals intended for human consumption in the country.

How to regulate gene-edited food is a hotly debated issue internationally. Scientists and regulators have recognized a difference between genetic modification, which typically involves transferring a gene from one organism to another, and gene editing, in which certain genes within an organism are disabled or altered using new techniques such as CRISPR. That’s why a year ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that most gene-edited foods would not need regulation….Now, Japan appears set to follow the U.S. example.

Related article:  South Australia launches 'independent review' of GMO crop moratorium

Whether consumers will embrace the new technology remains to be seen. Japan has approved the sale of genetically modified (GM) foods that have passed safety tests as long as they are labeled. But public wariness has limited consumption and has led most Japanese farmers to shun GM crops….

Read full, original article: Gene-edited foods are safe, Japanese panel concludes

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