Biotech Updates

Hokkaido Farmers Hopeful for Field Trials of GM Crops

July 23, 2014

Farmers in Hokkaido expressed their enthusiasm to field trial GM crops during the two symposia conducted in Hokkaido University and Obihiro University on July 12 and 14, respectively.  A total of 70 stakeholders composed of farmers, consumers, researchers, faculty, and students participated in the two seminars. The back-to-back symposia were co-organized by Nippon Biotechnology Information Center,  Hokkaido BioIndustry Association, and ISAAA with partial support from Center for Biotechnology Information of Japan.

In Hokkaido University, local scientist Dr. Toshihiko Yamada gave a talk on their genetic engineering efforts to improve Miscanthus to make it suitable for biofuel production. Dr. Rhodora Aldemita of ISAAA provided the recent global status of biotech crops and the Philippine experience on GM corn. Dr. Fusao Tomita, director of Nippon BIC gave insights on the current agribiotech status in Japan. Possibilities of field trials were raised during the open forum.

Similar presentations were conducted in Obihiro University with Prof. Hiroaki Yamauchi who gave an overview of the university's wheat breeding efforts. Farmer Yohsuke Okabe also gave his experiences on wheat farming, the challenges and the need for biotechnology. Farmer Yasushi Onodera, a sugar beet farmer presented the possible increased yield, reduction in cost of production, and profit if he plants herbicide tolerant sugar beet. Farmers and consumers present in the seminar were enthusiastic on the possibility of having field trials of GM sugar beet and wheat in the very near future.

 For details of these symposia and for biotech news in Japan, contact Dr. Fusao Tomita at or